HOUSTON -- Some parents say students in Texas are the victims of a plan to rewrite history. Parents are taking aim at CSCOPE, a program being used in about three-quarters of all Texas school districts.
According to parent Kathy Rogers, one lesson equates the Boston Tea Party patriots to terrorists.
“It looked like what they were trying to do was make capitalism and democracy obsolete,” she said.
Her daughter is a junior in the Friendswood ISD, one of the districts buying into the private program.
In one lesson, students design a flag for an imaginary communist country. Critics say it leans too far left.
“I think basically they’re trying to downplay American culture. They’re trying to downplay American exceptionalism,” Rogers said.
Brent Hawkins is an administrator with the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC) and has heard the complaints.
He believes that they are the exception and not the norm.
“CSCOPE was not written in California, it was not written in the liberal state of Massachusetts, it was written here in Texas by Texas teachers,” he said.
When it started a few years ago, CSCOPE was intended to help smaller districts save money. It created a standard core curriculum for grades K-12 which encouraged teaching through technology over textbooks.
“The efficiency of it, the price savings that’s been passed on to school districts, you’ve seen some of the larger districts see a value in that and buy in as well,” Hawkins said.
But parents say it has not always been transparent. Much of the learning comes off computers seen only in classrooms.
They say there is no way to check all that is in there and worry catching all mistakes may be impossible.
“It’s like ‘whack-a-mole,’” Kathy Rogers said. “You take something out but who knows if five things that are wrong aren’t added at the same time or at different times.”
Combine that with the critics’ view that CSCOPE sends too many mixed signals about America’s greatness, and it becomes clear why legislators are now getting involved.
Houston State Senator Dan Patrick recently passed a CSCOPE bill calling for a thorough review. The findings are due in four or five months.
“I’d like to put CSCOPE out of business,” Sen. Patrick said. “What we have is in my view is a rogue curriculum being taught in over 800 of our 1000 school districts that has never been under review, that has never been fact checked, and even the people who run CSCOPE don’t know what’s in their own lessons."
For now, the Friendswood ISD has suspended the social studies portion. Rogers started a website so that parents can share notes on what their kids are learning.
For them, history is being written while they take on an entire curriculum.