Texas will discontinue the state-run curriculum system used by at least 875 of the state’s school districts amid complaints that it contained lessons with an anti-American agenda.
The internet-based CSCOPE system was developed last November in an effort to help districts follow the state’s complicated educational requirements. It provided approximately 1,600 online lesson plans for the state’s teachers.
On Monday the 20-member board that manages CSCOPE signed a letter pledging to end the system by late August, reports the Associated Press. Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick (R-Houston) announced the news at a press conference.
Although the curriculum was created by 20 regional Texas Educational Service Centers (ESCs) that provide support for local school districts, conservative activists complained that its optional lessons promoted a "progressive pro-Islamic curriculum," according to the Texas Tribune. Activists took particular offense to one lesson that compared Boston Tea Party activists to terrorists and another that asked students to design a flag for a socialist country, reports the outlet.
Furthermore, activists complained about the fact that many lesson plans were not available to the public, although the Associated Press notes that this is a result of concerns about intellectual property rules.
Dr. Kyle Wargo, a board member of a regional ESC, said that CSCOPE is being discontinued because of practicality concerns.
"One, maintaining the lessons and developing lessons is not practical," Wargo explained at the press conference, according to Texas Public Radio. "The second thing I would say why we are not going to be in the lesson plan business is those lessons have a lot of subjectivity to them. Those lessons, every lesson, needs to be developed at the local level."
Patrick said CSCOPE lessons were not transparent enough, per the Longview News-Journal:
We do not want to hold back technology ... but we cannot just let anything get into the classroom without the parents having the right to see it, and without the legislature and the state board of education and the teachers and the local school boards and superintendents having a major say and the knowledge of what’s in that classroom.
Thomas Ratliff, vice chairman of the State Board of Education, decried the decision to scrap CSCOPE and said it was politically motivated. He also suggested the decision to end CSCOPE could pave the way for censorship in the classroom.
"I value and trust the professional staff and locally elected school boards to reflect the value and priorities of their local communities. This looks like a slippery slope to Internet filters, censorship, and other limitations on teachers in the classroom,” Ratcliff said in a statement obtained by the Longview News-Journal.