The Great CSCOPE Panic Goes Out with a Whimper

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Ginger Russell
Patrick Michels
Houston tea party activist Ginger Russell, one of CSCOPE's earliest and most outspoken opponents.

Remember CSCOPE, the state-produced curriculum tool used by the majority of Texas’ schools to plan out classroom lessons and ensure they’re covering the state’s education standards? Not ringing a bell?

What about CSCOPE, the stealth doomsday device planted by the socialists, Marxists, Muslims, anarchists, environmentalists, artists, Obama cronies and agents of the United Nations who secretly control what your children learn in Texas schools? Right, that CSCOPE.

The obscure curriculum tool that went overnight from, at worst, a frustrating tool of school bureaucracy, to a covert plot threatening our American freedoms is back in the news this week, thanks to the Austin American-Statesman‘s Kate Alexander.

The long-awaited independent review of CSCOPE’s lessons is finally complete, and the Statesman, in a Saturday story tucked behind its paywall, did the hard work of reading through them all and synthesizing the results.

“There is a war going on right now in this country for the heart and soul of who we are and who we will be. … There is a fear that that war has now gone down into the trenches of the classroom,” state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, told the American-Statesman last summer. “Is that the aim of CSCOPE? That’s still under investigation.”

Six months later, there is an answer to that question. It was met with a collective “meh.”

Of the 140-plus volunteers tasked by the State Board of Education with reviewing the lessons, Alexander writes, “fewer than 10 of the panelists found evidence of pervasive liberal bias.”

These volunteers are a self-selecting group of folks including many CSCOPE truthers, and not even 10 found evidence of some political or religious tilt to the lessons.

For months last year, state Sen. Dan Patrick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst jockeyed for the title of CSCOPE-buster-in-chief, hinting at the mighty reckoning they’d visit on CSCOPE’s architects someday. “I’m going to step all over their face on this,” Dewhurst famously said.

As a result of the controversy, the collaborative of regional education service centers that managed CSCOPE dissolved their nonprofit, changed the program’s name and quit selling licenses for the lessons. School board members ran, and won, on anti-CSCOPE platforms. Districts faced lawsuits, and activists swamped school board meetings. In its Saturday story, the Statesman points to a Dallas Morning News report that Irving ISD even “spent $1.3 million to design a replacement curriculum compared to the $190,000 it spent annually on CSCOPE.”

On Monday, the Texas Freedom Network’s Dan Quinn wondered whether teachers would get an apology from the folks who inflated the controversy. Dewhurst’s spokesman wouldn’t comment on the review for the Statesman.

The controversy began with a handful of now-infamous lessons such as an exercise asking kids to imagine the Boston Tea Party as an “act of terror” from the British perspective. The line from activists from the start was that they’d only gotten their hands on a few lessons; just imagine the horrors they’d find when all the lessons were public.

The reviews were posted online in late January, as a series of Microsoft Word files in which individual reviewers answer whether—using U.S. history as an example—the lessons “fairly and accurately” present things like “positive aspects of US heritage” and “males and females in various activities.” In free-form summary documents, reviewers were given a little more authorial freedom.

Bill Ames of Dallas, a longtime textbook reviewer for the state board, who devotes both his activism and his grooming to keeping the Founding Fathers’ legacy alive, penned a 12-pages “minority report” on the U.S. history lessons because he was outvoted by other reviewers. He begins with a point-by-point critique of lessons, then maneuvers into an anecdote about meeting “a group of disheveled young people, one of whom was [a] young lady in her early twenties.”

The girl’s distinguishing characteristic was a prominent nose ring.

The young lady, carrying a “Stop Fracking” sign, was adamant that fossil fuel exploration is destroying the Earth’s biodiversity.

The tragedy is that this young woman, due to her brainwashed, dogmatic behavior, is virtually unemployable as a professional in mainstream America.

CONCLUSION – CSCOPE IS THE OBAMACARE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION –IT CANNOT BE FIXED

As the Statesman notes, the most vocal anti-CSCOPE activists like Alice Linahan have already transitioned to new worries about the national Common Core standards ruining Texas schools (Texas has rejected the Common Core standards, but they’re the Next Big Conspiracy for tea party groups elsewhere).

Ginger Russell, the Houston tea party activist who helped launch the CSCOPE outrage, hasn’t mentioned the review’s conclusions on her Red Hot Conservative blog, but weighs in often on the more general specter of “transformation” or change. And Russell still blames the usual suspects for the latest looming disaster: superintendents, technology, IslamObama and the United Nations.

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Patrick Michels is a reporter for the Texas Observer and a former legislative intern. He has been a staff writer and web editor at the Dallas Observer, and a former editor of the Texas Independent. He has a bachelor's in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in photojournalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a competitive eating enthusiast.

  • WUSRPH

    But you saw that Dan Patrick still says it was bad….Can’t admit any error, that guy.