Texas Company Scraps Controversial Lesson Plan System

May 20, 2013

After uproar over some lesson plans some conservatives deemed un-American, a Texas company has decided scrap a curriculum system used by 877 school districts that were too small or too poor to produce their own.

"The CSCOPE era is over," Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick, who was leading the charge against the program, said in a statement. Patrick and others had introduced legislation that would have added more scrutiny to the lesson plans produced by the program. The legislation was scheduled to be debated, but CSCOPE pulled the plug before that.

Texas Monthly wrote a piece back in April that detailed how we got here. The magazine reports:

"[CSCOPE] first gained national attention last November when conservative talk show host (and recent Dallas transplant) Glenn Beck mentioned a lesson on his show that said that, from the British perspective, the Boston Tea Party could be considered an act of terrorism.

"Patrick, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, had explained that he drafted SB 1406 because of his "great concerns about the management, the supervision, and the oversight" of the system. Proponents of the bill who testified shared those concerns; some complained that another lesson on Islam said that 'Allah' was another word for 'God.' Others complained that material in the lesson plans was not always appropriate for grade level."

After today's news, the Texas Freedom Network, an activist organization that tries to fight against what it calls "textbook censorship at the Texas State Board of Education," was not happy.

"Today political bullying resulted in hundreds of school districts getting thrown under the bus and essentially told to figure out for themselves where to find the resources to replace the service CSCOPE had provided them," Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said in a statement. "The big lesson here is that if you can generate a witch hunt that includes enough incendiary and distorted claims, then there are politicians at the Capitol who are ready to throw their supposed commitment to local control out the window."

Scripps Texas Newspapers reports that during a press conference Patrick said his issue with CSCOPE was that it ran afoul a system of "checks and balances." That is, curriculums should be able to be reviewed by parents or some other Texas entity. Patrick said the "future legislation would take a deeper look at online curriculum that private companies might develop to fill the void left by CSCOPE."

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