This very short clip from last weekend’s debate between State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, highlights how the manufactured “controversy” over CSCOPE eventually oozed out of the right-wing fever swamps.
Tea party and other political activists (including a for-profit political consulting company) have absurdly claimed that the CSCOPE curriculum tool used by hundreds of Texas public and Christian schools is un-American, anti-Christian, pro-Islamic and Marxist. Those claims have been based on mistruths and ridiculous distortions of CSCOPE lessons. Here are some examples. Here are some others.
Even so, Sen. Patrick (who is running for lieutenant governor in the 2014 elections) has shamefully pandered to those activists. He repeats their half-baked arguments over and over — including at the debate with Ratliff. He even pressured (successfully) the state’s Education Service Centers to stop producing CSCOPE lessons.
Ratliff says he trusts local school district officials and teachers to decide for themselves whether to continue using existing CSCOPE lessons that are now in the public domain. They, he argues, are qualified to know what’s appropriate and what’s not in their own classrooms. Patrick, acting as if he’s the state’s classroom czar, insists that teachers should be banned from using the lessons at all.
But as the clip above shows, Patrick now admits that he has never read any of those lessons. Not even one. He has simply accepted as fact the complaints of political fanatics who pretend to speak for millions of Texas parents — the same fanatics who are shamefully smearing the retired and current Texas teachers who wrote those lessons and the teachers who are using them in their classrooms.
Of course, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, desperately seeking re-election, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who wants to be governor, are also pandering to those same fanatics. All of this should be laughable. It’s an embarrassment for Texas if it’s not.