For well over a year, right-wing activists and pandering politicians like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick have loudly and recklessly complained that a popular curriculum tool used in hundreds of Texas schools is filled with anti-American, Marxist and pro-Islamic bias. Now a formal review of lessons from the CSCOPE curriculum program confirms that lies and distortions were behind many of the attacks.
An Austin-American Statesman review of the final reports from the State Board of Education’s review exposes just how baseless the attacks on CSCOPE’s lessons were. From the article:
More than 140 volunteers — parents, educators, business people and others appointed by members of the State Board of Education — combed through 431 social studies lessons from all grades in search of bias and errors. Their findings were posted online at cscopereviews.com in late January.
Fewer than 10 of the panelists found evidence of pervasive liberal bias; the other 130 or so did not.
“They used public schools and kids as pawns in their political games and now they have moved on to something else,” said State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, who opposed Patrick during a debate over CSCOPE in August.
The vast majority of reviewers deemed that the lessons had covered state standards in a “comprehensive and generally unbiased fashion,” said State Board of Education member Marty Rowley, the Amarillo Republican who spearheaded the process.
“There is hopefully an assurance that this product has been looked at by a cross-section of the community and these are the results,” Rowley said.
Panelists were tasked with finding “bad things” but couldn’t, said State Board of Education member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford.
The politicians and activists who fanned the controversy, however, are “not going to want to give it up because they would have to admit they were wrong,” said Hardy, who is running for re-election and has been beating back CSCOPE attacks in her campaign for the March 4 primary.
Patrick and Dewhurst, opponents in this year’s Republican primary for lieutenant governor, have completed with each other in pandering to anti-CSCOPE activists. The Statesman asked Dewhurst’s office for comment about the review but got nothing. When the paper asked Sen. Patrick for comment, he tried to change the subject and complained that the lessons were sloppy and lacked rigor. But as the article points out, Patrick last year had promoted the charges about leftist and anti-American bias in the CSCOPE lessons.
“There is a war going on right now in this country for the heart and soul of who we are and who we will be. … There is a fear that that war has now gone down into the trenches of the classroom,” state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, told the American-Statesman last summer. “Is that the aim of CSCOPE? That’s still under investigation.”
So will Patrick, Dewhurst and other anti-CSCOPE fanatics apologize to the lesson-writers — current and retired Texas teachers — they essentially smeared as anti-American? Don’t hold your breath.
And what about the tiny handful of reviewers who say they found problems of bias in CSCOPE’s social studies lessons? One of those reviewers was Bill Ames, a North Texas political activist who has complained in the past about “an overrepresentation of minorities” in the state’s social studies curriculum standards. He returned to that theme in his comments about the CSCOPE lessons he reviewed. For example, here’s what he has to say about a lesson on World War II:
EMPHASIS ON MULTICULTURAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES AT THE EXPENSE OF WWII HISTORICAL FACTS. There is undue emphasis on “sidebar” events, at the expense of WWII historical facts. More class and research time is spent on the Navajo Code Talkers, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Flying Tigers, than on the American military leaders of WWII: Generals Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall, Bradley, Patton, and Admiral Nimitz.
Ames complains that another lesson, addressing issues in modern American society, “reveals extreme bias and political correctness” because, apparently, it discusses the Chicano Mural Movement:
“While the Chicano Mural Movement is mentioned in the TEKS [state curriculum standards], it hardly warrants being a centerpiece for cultural issues during the 1960s. Rock and roll (Buddy Holly, Elvis) had a far greater impact on the culture of the day.”
He then goes on to insist that the lesson should tell students that “unrealistic expectations from civil rights legislation and the great society [sic] led to the race riots and inner city destruction during the 1960s.” He also addresses his concerns about affirmative action and equal opportunity for women in college athletics:
Affirmative action: In today’s world, affirmative action allows acceptance of minority students into colleges and universities, while rejecting white students who have scored higher on entrance exams. As this policy is increasingly challenged on fairness issues, there has been significant litigation to end affirmative action.
Title IX: The expansion of women’s sports at the college and high school level was often implemented in the absence of common sense. Often men’s sports programs, with a broad group of participants, were eliminated in deference to a woman’s sport with few participants.
The other members of Ames’ review team didn’t share his concerns about the lessons they examined. So Ames filed his own “minority report,” in which he complains that CSCOPE is “the Obamacare of public education.”
Political pressure from Patrick, Dewhurst and other state politicians forced the state’s Education Service Centers to announce in May that they would stop developing CSCOPE lessons. That decision left school districts scrambling to find the resources to replace those lessons. Some have said they plan to continue using the old CSCOPE lessons.