Score a big win for parents rights. On Friday, the state of Texas announced that they had reached an agreement with the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum (TESCCC) that would bring sweeping changes to the very secretive curriculum management system known as CSCOPE.
Back in November of 2012, and based on complaints from parents, teachers, and students, TheBlaze started covering the story about an internal takeover of the Texas Public School education system. According to parents and teachers that we spoke with, the CSCOPE system was causing problems on several levels.
Transparency – Parents were not allowed to review the lessons that being taught in school. CSCOPE’s parent’s portal was a very basic outline and contained only sketchy details. Any parent who requested access to the lesson plans was told that they needed to visit the actual school and be directed by a teacher to see the online lessons.
Oppressive and Threatening Conditions – Teachers complained that working under the strict guidelines of the CSCOPE program, they were expected to deliver the content verbatim and only on the scheduled days in the lesson plan. If some students were not grasping the lesson, the teachers were directed to move on to the next lesson. Uniformity and sticking to the calendar were stressed over actual learning. Teachers were also asked to sign a contract that would prevent them from revealing what was in the CSCOPE lessons or face civil and criminal penalties.
Lack of State Board of Education Oversight - The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) was virtually shut out of the decision making on CSCOPE.
The agreement announced Friday contains several very important points and makes changes to the system immediately. One of the most popular concessions will make many educators happy – Teachers will no longer be required to execute the CSCOPE lessons verbatim.
There were other significant changes to the program
- 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.
The introduction of transparency and the removal of the threats against teachers who exposed CSCOPE were two of the key arguments made by those hoping to slow CSCOPE’s growth. But the agreement actually went further than many people expected. The massive changes also include:
- Ending the non-profit 501(c)3 arrangement that incorporates CSCOPE.
- Initiating the posting of CSCOPE lesson content to their public website.
- Creating a standing curriculum review panel, comprised of: parents, teachers, school administrators, members of the SBOE, and TESCCC board members.
Texas State Senator Dan Patrick was vital to the negotiation between the SBOE and CSCOPE. Mr. Patrick’s statement on the agreement expressed his satisfaction with it, but also issued a little warning to CSCOPE:
“I’m glad the CSCOPE Board realizes that immediate and long term changes must be made to address the serious issues raised by our committee, parents, and teachers. Our committee will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure they follow through with their commitments. We will also be looking at legislation to ensure these changes cannot be reversed in the future and that the SBOE continues in their role of oversight of CSCOPE content. The future of the program will depend on CSCOPE keeping the commitments they have made and gaining the trust of the legislature, teachers, and parents.”
If you are not aware of what CSCOPE is or was doing, the organization is an offshoot of an educational program that traces its roots back to 1965 when the state established media centers / Education Service Centers (ESCs) throughout each of Texas’s 20 school districts. In recent years, these ESCs have been transformed into a non-profit group that created the curriculum management system known as CSCOPE.
To get a better understanding of how CSCOPE was pushing some controversial concepts into the schools, we suggest you review these Blaze articles: