Lawmaker confirms immediate changes in controversial operations– John Griffing
AUSTIN, Texas – Parents of school children across Texas now are gaining access to a previously secret public school curriculum, according to an announcement from a state lawmaker.
The CSCOPE program, an online offering that until now has prohibited, under penalty of law, teachers from sharing the lessons with parents, stirred up controversy because of its various lessons – some that were taken offline after the questions arose.
Among those issues were that the curriculum at one point taught the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism and Christians were cannibals, and forced students to draw a socialist flag while imagining a new socialist country.
Teachers also would have been exposed to criminal penalties for sharing CSCOPE lesson content with parents, and educators were required to teach strictly from the CSCOPE lesson plan, without additions or changes.
But Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, whose Texas Senate Education Committee held a public hearing last week investigating CSCOPE, said there now have been “significant changes.”
The Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, which owns CSCOPE, agreed to the following changes, effectively immediately, he said.
- All future meetings of the TESCCC governing board, beginning with the February meeting, will be public with all the respective notice requirements being met.
- The TESCCC will begin a joint review process of all CSCOPE lessons with the SBOE beginning with Social Studies.
- Clarifying that all teachers and districts may post any and all CSCOPE lessons that they deem necessary.
In addition to these immediate transparency and quality control changes, CSCOPE will also undergo structural, governance, and other changes, including ending the non-profit 501(c)3 arrangement that incorporates CSCOPE, posting lessons online, and creating a standing curriculum review panel comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators, members of the SBOE, and TESCCC board members.
The online courses no longer will be mandatory, either, the senator said.
“CSCOPE is notifying all participating school districts that lessons are not intended to be taught verbatim, and the governing board generally recommends that local districts utilize CSCOPE lessons solely as a resource. Until CSCOPE lessons can be reviewed through a collaborative process with the SBOE and TESCCC, districts are strongly encouraged to review all lessons at the local level, to ensure that lessons are appropriate for their students,” the senator’s announcement said.
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