A Senate education chairman – even a self-styled educational “evangelist” – can’t singlehandedly repeal a state program, not with all the bullying and bluster he can command.
I am talking, of course, about Sen. Dan Patrick, who a few months ago unilaterally declared the CSCOPE curriculum system dead, following complaints from a vocal minority of conspiracy-theorists who viewed the program as an anti-American, socialist plot to brainwash Texas students. Patrick thought he had successfully killed the program after he had bullied the system’s governing board to agree to remove all lesson plans by Aug. 31.
Now, it turns out, Patrick was wrong – again – because the lesson plans are now in the public domain and free to be picked up by any school district that wishes to use them. That was the assessment of the Texas Education Agency’s top lawyer, David Anderson, who told the State Board of Education that there is “no statute” that would prohibit districts from continuing to use CSCOPE lesson plans.
In other words, Chairman Patrick neglected to get a new law passed by a majority of the House and the Senate – basic legislative details.
CSCOPE, developed by regional educational service centers, is not an evil conspiracy. It was designed to help school districts prepare lesson plans for teaching state educational requirements. Many large school districts have their own curriculum directors and don’t need it. Typically, using CSCOPE lessons is not mandatory, but it has been an important tool in the educational tool box for some teachers, especially in hundreds of small districts that can’t afford to hire personnel to develop their own plans.
Many of those small districts have been scrambling for help since Patrick declared the program dead. Now, they may get a break in preparing for the new school year.
The final word, however, on the controversy may not have been issued. Attorney General Greg Abbott also has been a strong critic of CSCOPE. And, now that he is actively courting right-wing votes in his newly launched race for governor, don’t be surprised if he tries to find a way to re-bury the program.