A 7th grade Texas middle school assignment that went viral on social media this week was determined to be fake. The storyline generated about students taking an allegedly invasive student survey was not true — it did not happen.
When the mysterious questionnaire first appeared on back-to-school Monday, frantic Facebookers plastered this unverified document on Stop Common Core groups and spun a quite web around it. “Texas students given most stunningly intrusive home survey ever?” was among the countless posts. Bloggers tweeted and picked up the story.
— Marta (@peakwriter) August 27, 2015
“This post has been erased and removed from Facebook so we are posting it again. It’s the truth and it’s not pretty. Invasive data collection. This was given to a 7th grade social studies class in TX…this does NOT belong in schools, Facebook is protecting this, and taking down the shared posts,” Parenting Over Policy in Douglas County posted.
Actually, the person who originally uploaded the image took it down once Breitbart Texas began investigating the validity of the survey on Tuesday. The purportedly intrusive questionnaire is attached at the bottom of this story.
All week, emoticons grimaced across the country over what allegedly happened in Texas — only, again, it did not happen. What did happen was that Breitbart Texas obtained the handout and parents, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from school officials, explained that the handout came home with other first day papers from Carroll Middle School in the affluent Dallas suburb of Southlake.
One parent voiced to Breitbart Texas concerns of being labeled a “complainer,” by school officials, as a reason for not taking the matter to the school. Other worries emanated over the sweeping overhaul of public education, the ever-pervasive Common Core-like creep of materials into Texas, and potential digital student privacy infringements.
Breitbart Texas spoke to Rick Herrin, assistant director of communications for the Carroll Independent School District (ISD), who identified “this in-class exercise is not a survey about the lives of our students, it is a list of questions written from three different perspectives to teach the students that the author’s biases may come through in his or her writing.”
Herrin said that that students were asked whether or not each question was written from the perspective of an author asking from the viewpoint of poverty, middle class or wealth in a class discussion intended to “teach students to identify validity and different points of views in historical events and documents” while addressing the 7th grade Texas History Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
This was from a 7th grade Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) Texas History class. Seven Pre-AP Texas History classes conducted by two teachers used it as an analytical tool, not as a personal information gathering survey, the district official asserted.
Pre-AP courses are not part of the College Board. As José Rios, a College Board (CB) spokesman explained to Breitbart Texas, the CB does not offer Pre-AP courses but only “supports schools’ efforts to develop and implement local curricula” to prepare students for AP or other college level courses.
However, last year, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) passed an amendment to ensure that public high schools taught Texas Social Studies standards (TEKS), even in AP and the International Baccalaureate (IB) courses as another line of defense against the College Board redesigned AP US History (APUSH).
Herrin reiterated that this first-day assignment was only for the purposes of examining “the bias and validity of an author’s perspective as it relates to historical writings and events in Texas History.”
He said, “For instance, the difference in the perspectives of Santa Ana’s diary entries where he describes the ‘rebel Texans’ were compared to the perspective of the actual Texans themselves who fought in the Alamo.”
The spokesman added, “The intention of the exercise is to provide three distinct perspectives that properly frame the process of isolating bias and determining validity.”
“The 30 questions [on that handout] were compiled from Dr. Ruby Payne’s “Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach” – 10 questions from the poverty document; 10 questions from the middle class document and 10 questions from the wealth document were used and combined into one worksheet for students,” said Herrin.
The Texas-based Payne, a former teacher, created the award-winning “framework” that is used nationwide in schools as a tool to overcome class barriers. Payne often cites popular conservative economist, columnist and Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell, which rankles a fervent but small group of hard left-leaning critics who do not agree with Payne’s approach. In 2010, critic Paul Gorski, complained that “Payne’s work is replete with conservative values.” Gorski, a George Mason University assistant professor, teaches the topic through an edu-reform social justice, equity and white privilege lens.
Breitbart Texas has devoted much editorial to Common Core instructional materials popping up in classrooms statewide; however, this does not appear to be one of those instances, nor has any Carroll Middle School parent expressed that students had to fill out the questionnaire before or after it hit cyberspace.
Parents post handouts and worksheets associated wth Common Core on social media all the time. Perhaps, this is a moment to contemplate the accuracy of what is uploaded. Recently, a burgeoning-viral post out of Tennessee claimed a school district forced children to give blood and urine samples. Breitbart Texas was contacted. That turned out to be bogus, too. Those forms were real, as well, but they were for uninsured children going through the public school system for their back-to-school wellness check ups.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, the disinformation about the Texas middle school trends. Finally, a person on the Moms Against Duncan (MAD) page posed a vital paradoxical question: “So….is this a true survey? I have posted it and friends questioned the validity. I hate to post anything that might undermine what we are trying to achieve.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.