Thomas Ratliff, a moderate Republican on the State Board of Education, announced today that the board will discuss the CSCOPE curriculum program at its meeting in September. And, he sharply criticized Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick for helping to create a wasteful “artificial controversy” over the program.
As I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, the Texas Education Agency has advised the state board that, despite Patrick’s efforts to kill CSCOPE, school districts are still free to use CSCOPE lesson plans because the Legislature didn’t enact a law abolishing the program. Instead, Patrick simply bullied the CSCOPE governing board into agreeing to remove the lesson plans and then prematurely declared the program dead. But now the same plans are in the public domain and can be picked up by any district wishing to use them.
CSCOPE, developed by regional education service centers, was designed to help school districts prepare lesson plans for teaching state educational requirements. Typically, using CSCOPE plans has not been mandatory, and many larger districts haven’t used them because they can afford to hire their own curriculum developers. But it has been an important tool in the educational tool box for some teachers, particularly in hundreds of small districts that can’t afford to hire extra curriculum help.
Patrick made a political issue of the program by pandering to a vocal minority of conspiracy theorists who didn’t like a couple of lesson plans and started branding the program as an anti-American plot. Meanwhile, small school districts have been scrambling for curriculum help in time for the new school year.
“It’s unfortunate that so much time, energy and taxpayer dollars have been wasted because Senator Patrick was too quick to run to the Senate Press Room before he fully vetted the policy and practical implications of his actions,” said Ratliff, who represents many school districts dependent on CSCOPE.
Ratliff said he was confident the State Board of Education “will do the right thing by providing transparency and accountability regarding these lessons and helping our local school boards, superintendents, principals and teachers stay focused on their important task at hand, rather than defending themselves against baseless political attacks.”
Let us hope so. Unfortunately, we are likely to hear more political rhetoric from Patrick, as he tries to gin up his right-wing base in his newly announced race for lieutenant governor. And, Attorney General Greg Abbott, another foe of CSCOPE and newly minted candidate for governor, also may chime in.