After the 2013 regular legislative session and three special sessions, most Texans believed that the state’s controversial CSCOPE education curriculum had been put out to pasture. But it turns out that the controversial curriculum is not dead, and was posted online. In a wide-ranging interview with PJTV/PJ Media Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst revealed efforts to fix or at least mitigate what he calls a “disaster.”
When PJM spoke with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, he had just come from a meeting on CSCOPE with members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE).
“I thought CSCOPE was dead and buried,” Dewhurst said. “Based on my conversations with parents all across the state last year in 2012 continuing through, now into 2013, I thought that CSCOPE was a real problem and that we needed to kill it off.”
But that’s not what happened.
“We have so many problems with CSCOPE. Factual errors. Bias. Our Founding Fathers being called ‘terrorists,’” Dewhurst said, referring to how the lesson plan on the Boston Tea Party depicts it as “a local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization, attacked the property of private citizens today at our nation’s busiest port. Although no one was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed. The terrorists, dressed in disguise and apparently intoxicated, were able to escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities.”
That was but one of many problems Texans have found with CSCOPE. Other problems included the curriculum’s praise for communism and its reported tilt toward Islam.
Dewhurst says that he asked a senator to carry a bill in the legislature that would put the CSCOPE lesson plans under the Texas State Board of Education’s review and corrections process. The SBOE currently has a strong conservative majority. But as the bill moved through the legislature, there was an unauthorized agreement made to stop his bill and then post all of CSCOPE’s uncorrected lesson plans on the Internet.
“Somebody didn’t think this through. Once you put them all on the Internet, they’re in the public domain. And they’re up there. And as of last count, the TEA (Texas Education Agency) Commissioner [Michael] Williams…was sharing with me, 897 school districts out of 1200 are planning on using CSCOPE. How do we correct it [since it's already posted online]? This is a disaster! A disaster!”
Dewhurst says he is applying his business background to fixing the problem.
“When I’m talking with conservative members of the State Board of Education…not to review and approve CSCOPE because I don’t like CSCOPE. But let’s go through with an aggressive, really aggressive, investigation on social studies, which is the most pressing subject, on those 431 different lesson plans, find the ones that have factual errors, bias, and point those out. I’m not interested in the State Board of Education approving CSCOPE. So let’s find out where the factual errors are, and where the bias exists, and point that out to the school boards [who intend to use CSCOPE].” Dewhurst noted that under a bill he supported, SB 1474 sponsored by Sen. Robert Duncan, when schools adopt a new curriculum, there has to be a period of public comment. As CSCOPE is new, parents will get the chance to weigh in with their local schools on CSCOPE and its errors.
Dewhurst also called on concerned parents and educators to “crowdsource” the error-hunting process.
“I don’t want to just depend on a well-intentioned group of reviewers by the conservative majority on the State Board of Education. I want to crowdsource it. I want people to take a look at it and, any errors in there, whether they’re found by this very professional group in the State Board of Education, that I think most of us believe has given us good, conservative, accurate, textbooks over the years…I’d also like to have crowdsourcing so that anyone who really studies this can point out the errors, and we’re not going to be teaching children things that we don’t believe in.
“This is all about our children. This is all about our children having the best possible education, and teaching them the values that we hold dear to our heart,” Dewhurst said.
The CSCOPE lesson plans have been posted online here. Public schools across Texas open for the 2013-2014 school year near the end of August.
CSCOPE has become a massive issue across Texas, and was a hot-button issue during the recently concluded legislative sessions. One of Dewhurst’s rivals for the lieutenant governorship, state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, claimed at one point that he had ended CSCOPE entirely.
We will have more of our interview with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, including the former CIA man’s thoughts on the Ft. Hood trial and Benghazi, later on PJM and PJTV.