Education writer Donna Garner
By Donna Garner
Kate Alexander, liberal and biased reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, has written an article in today’s paper entitled “Activists publish CSCOPE tests online.” I have posted excerpts further on down the page.
WHAT KATE “FORGOT” TO MENTION
Kate mentions nothing in this article about the fact that the TESCCC (made up of all 20 Education Service Center directors) was the corporate owner of CSCOPE (and all its parts). TESCCC announced on May 20, 2013, that TESCCC would cease to exist.
From what has been widely publicized, the TESCCC
decided to shut itself down because it was set up originally as a “shell corporation” without the appropriate business mechanisms having been put in place; millions of taxpayers’ dollars are still unaccounted for; and lawsuits may be in the offing because of plagiarism found in the CSCOPE lessons. The Texas State Auditor, John Keel, is presently doing a formal audit of TESCCC/ESC/CSCOPE; and shortly a formal complaint may be filed with the IRS.
The TESCCC directors signed a letter saying that the CSCOPE lessons would be taken off the website on Aug. 31, 2013, when the yearly school contracts expired. In the same 5.20.13 letter, the TESCCC also announced that the ESC’s would produce and sell no more lesson plans to Texas schools.
THOMAS RATLIFF INFLUENCES HIS CRONIES
Then up popped Thomas Ratliff who loudly began advising Texas public school administrators to let their teachers download the CSCOPE lessons and to keep using them anyway. Ratliff is a registered lobbyist for Microsoft and gets richer each time online technology in Texas schools is utilized. Because of his obvious conflict of interest, Ratliff is an illegal member of the Texas State Board of Education because of the monetary/business ties that the Texas Education Agency and SBOE have with Microsoft.
Grassroots citizens have generated a petition to have Ratliff impeached by the Texas House — www. IMPEACHRATLIFF.COM.
CSCOPE IN PUBLIC DOMAIN
At the July 17-19, 2013 Texas State Board of Education meeting, David Anderson, legal counsel for the Texas Education Agency, verbalized his interpretation of this confusing situation, saying that after Aug. 31, 2013, the CSCOPE lessons would become a part of the public domain and could be utilized by any and all. On 8.22.13, the Texas Tribune published the CSCOPE lessons on their website.
However, nothing has been decided legally about the ownership of the CSCOPE assessments. The TESCCC owned the CSCOPE lessons and the accompanying assessments; but since the TESCCC has shut itself down and its contracts with districts have ceased to exist, it seems reasonable to assume that the CSCOPE assessments should be in the public domain also.
MEANWHILE, TESCCC HAS MORPHED
On 8.12.13, the former TESCCC members met as a committee at ESC 13 in Austin and suddenly began calling themselves the Texas Curriculum Management Program Cooperative (TCMPC). The name CSCOPE has been changed to the TEKS Resource System, and all of the same CSCOPE “parts” are being marketed by the ESC’s except for the CSCOPE lessons (which can now be accessed on the Texas Tribune website).
CSCOPE ASSESSMENTS PUBLISHED
This week a few of the CSCOPE assessments have been put into the public domain on a public website with more assessments sure to be published soon. The question remains, “If TESCCC shut itself down, then who owns the CSCOPE assessments?”
TEXAS TEACHERS SPEAK OUT
Please go to this link to see how Texas teachers and students feel about the CSCOPE lessons, assessments, and scope and sequence: http://www.voicesempower.com/voice-of-a-teacher-and-a-student-cscope-assessments/
SBOE REVIEW AND PUBLIC HEARING — CSCOPE SOCIAL STUDIES LESSONS
The Texas State Board of Education is supervising the review of the CSCOPE social studies lessons since many schools in Texas have decided to keep using the CSCOPE lessons which are now in the public domain. The review teams are evaluating whether or not the CSCOPE lessons are aligned with the state-adopted-and-mandated curriculum standards (TEKS) and are free from factual errors.
As a part of the SBOE review of the CSCOPE social studies lessons, a public hearing will be held by the SBOE on Sept. 13 at 9:00 A. M. (changed from an earlier start time of 1:00 P. M.) Here is the link to the information people need who wish to testify at that meeting: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/Communications/CSCOPE/Public_hearing_scheduled_on_CSCOPE/
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – PARENTAL ACCESS
For those school districts that insist on using CSCOPE lessons (or whatever the new name may be), the “elephant in the room” is still parental access 24/7 to the CSCOPE curriculum.
Statute established in the Texas Education Code (TEC) states that the school district must “allow the student to take home any instructional materials used by the student…The parent must be allowed to review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent’s child…A school district shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents.” (Texas Education Code, Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle E. Students and Parents, Chapter 26. Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Sec. 26.006. Access to Teaching Materials — http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.26.htm#26.004 )
Definition of “instructional materials” – “The term includes a book, supplementary materials, a combination of a book, workbook, and supplementary materials, computer software, magnetic media, DVD, CD-ROM, computer courseware, on-line services, or an electronic medium, or other means of conveying information to the student or otherwise contributing to the learning process through electronic means, including open-source instructional material. (Texas Education Code, Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle F. Curriculum, Programs, and Services, Chapter 31. Instructional Materials, Subchapter A. General Provisions, Sec. 31.002, Definitions, Instructional Material —
As described by an experienced Texas teacher:
Hypothetically, if a teacher ‘does’ a CSCOPE lesson, the parent will never be able to see it. It will be played out in the classroom. The only thing that will come home is a graphic organizer with a bunch of empty boxes — no explanation at the top, no content to review…
CSCOPE doesn’t provide the content — meaning the informational text for the student. That is why it is so dangerous. It provides a script for the teacher, which the parent will never see. The teacher is left to scramble for material all over the internet.
When dangerous links in the CSCOPE lessons were made public by concerned citizens, the TESCCC (corporate owner of CSCOPE) pulled those links. This is the big danger of CSCOPE and other online materials. Links and other content can be taken out or put back in ‘at the click of a mouse’ without parental knowledge.
Another expert on CSCOPE has stated:
We also need to keep going back to the fact that the TESCCC was never forced to provide actual access for parents – a requirement of the Texas Education Code. TESCCC skirted by on pledges to create a new website with total access, which turned out to be a sham since parents did not have genuine access to the lessons being used in CLASSROOMS, only samples (as was the case with the original CSCOPE domain)…
No access was ever truly granted. Therefore, the question of access is still a valid one for the courts and should be the primary focus of legal efforts.
For success in court, parents need to seek injunctive relief on the basis of being denied access to the lessons used by both the District and TESCCC. Injury on the basis of ACCESS will give all parents standing. And standing, is what judges care about.
Austin American Statesman Writer Kate Alexander
9.5.13 – “Activists Publish CSCOPE Tests Online” – by Kate Alexander, Austin American-Statesman —
Excerpts from this article:
A conservative blogger has published online the questions and answers for social studies tests available to hundreds of Texas school districts because she maintains they reflect a pro-Islam and anti-American bias.
The public release of the tests could render them unusable and is the latest development in an ongoing saga over a curriculum system, formerly known as CSCOPE, that has inflamed conservative and tea party activists over the past year.
Ginger Russell, half of the mother-daughter duo that sparked the CSCOPE controversy, posted the 10 tests on her website — redhotconservative.com — on Wednesday. Russell said she believed that parents needed to see the tests, which had been provided to her by teachers…
It will be left up to the school districts whether to continue using the tests, but many teachers and administrators have already expressed concern that the integrity of the assessments had been compromised, said Mason Moses, a spokesman for the state-funded Education Service Centers that developed the assessments.
“We take this very seriously. … This may be just 10 or so now, but there is concern that moving forward it could multiply significantly,” Moses said.
Posting the tests online harms the schools that have found them to be a useful resource, said State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant.
“Clearly, what she’s trying to do is destroy the whole program,” Ratliff said of Russell…
Join the Movement!
If you are not going to allow your child, grandchild, niece or nephew to be used like this start by signing a petition to remove paid Microsoft lobbyist Thomas Ratliff from the Texas SBOE (State Board of Education)