Congressman Steve Stockman of Friendswood (near Houston) is wading into the bizarre political witch hunt over the CSCOPE curriculum management system targeted by far-right activists in recent months. And — no surprise — the Republican tea partyer is peddling the right-wing conspiracy myth that President Obama is trying to take over Texas schools.
Stockman’s campaign committee has apparently paid for the printing of postcards being distributed today at a Texas House Public Education Committee hearing on a bill putting CSCOPE under review by the State Board of Education. CSCOPE, a product of the state’s Education Service Centers, helps Texas public schools cover all of the required curriculum standards. Critics absurdly claim that the program — with lessons written by current and retired Texas teachers (crazy radicals!) — promotes Marxism and Islam while undermining patriotism and Christianity. Yet the examples they point to are little more than bizarre distortions of CSCOPE lessons. They also claim CSCOPE officials are somehow collaborating with the Obama administration and the Common Core State Standards to help the federal government take over Texas schools. Really. We’re not making this up. In fact, that’s the charge Stockman’s postcard is making, with folks asked to sign on to a statement saying:
“Stop CScope! Yes Steve, I’m standing with you to fight stop [sic] President Obama’s radical take over of our Texas Schools.”
Never mind the typos. There is simply no connection between CSCOPE and the Obama administration or the Common Core standards. (The federal government has had no role in developing the Common Core standards, by the way.) CSCOPE is focused on helping teachers cover the Texas curriculum standards. But tea party activists seem to be in perpetual panic over President Obama somehow becoming dictator-for-life and snuffing out freedom everywhere, so CSCOPE critics must figure that dragging the program into the wars on Common Core and the Obama administration is a good trick.
Why in the world is Stockman — re-elected to Congress in 2012 after a 16-year absence — wading into this issue? We suppose political pandering is the likeliest reason, but Stockman has long orbited on the political fringes anyway. Lately, he’s been touting a new slogan for his re-election campaign next year: “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.”
A March 2012 post on the Houston Chronicle’s website offered a brief review of Stockman’s only other congressional term, in 1995-97:
Stockman’s two years in Congress were marked by weirdness, such as an article in Guns & Ammo magazine that appeared under his byline in which he suggested the then-new Clinton administration raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco on April 19, 1993, to justify a ban on assault weapons. Stockman said, in reports from The Associated Press in May 1995, that he stood by his article, which was published right after the Oklahoma City bombing. A couple of weeks after he defended the article, he told The Associated Press he regretted it, mostly for its timing.
On the day the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed, April 19, 1995, just four months into his term, there was confusion over a fax sent to Stockman’s office after the bombing occurred. The FBI became involved. In a news conference in Beaumont in April 1995, Stockman identified the sender as a former Orange County Republican chairwoman who had ties to the Michigan militia.
Stockman admitted in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article in January 1995 that in his younger days he was a vagrant. In a June 1995 article in the Dallas Morning News, Stockman told a story from his Michigan days when he was jailed in connection with a traffic violation that led to the discovery of a controlled substance hidden in his underwear.
After migrating to Texas from his native Michigan in 1979 – homeless in Fort Worth for a time – he eventually moved to Houston, Hearst Newspapers reported in a December 1994 article. He earned a degree in accounting, discovered religion, worked a succession of jobs, campaigned for Republicans, and was working as an accountant for an asbestos abatement company when he first took on Brooks in 1992, trying again and succeeding in 1994. He lost the seat two years later.
Voters tossed Stockman out after one term in 1996, but he managed to get re-elected in a new congressional district last year.