Controversy over Texas program that described Tea Party as terror escalates
by John Griffing
A controversial school curriculum management system in Texas that once included a description of the Boston Tea Party as terror, and has referenced Islamic terrorists as freedom fighters, now has been found to be trying to charge parents hundreds of dollars to see the instructional materials being used by their own children, officials said.
However, under Texas Education Code Chapter 26, all parents have the undisputed right to see any and all instructional materials used in state classrooms.
The program is CSCOPE, and Amy Zimmerman, a mother in the Collinsville Independent School District, asked to see the 7th grade CSCOPE science lessons used between September 2012 and May 2013, citing her “parental right” under state law.
However, instead of the materials, what she got was a letter from an attorney for the district requiring the payment of $770 so see the materials.
Gerry Miller, an attorney with expertise in education law, said that doesn’t appear to align with the law.
“Suffice it to say the statute is mandatory because of the use of the word ‘shall,’ it is therefore incumbent on the school to comply with the parent’s request. No provision is made for payment by a parent as a ‘condition precedent’ to obtaining the teaching material,” Miller said.
“If a school district demands fees, especially exorbitant fees, to review teaching material, such action has the effect of invalidating the statute’s intent,” he said. “I would fully expect a judge to apply the statute as written and order the school to provide the information without charge.”
Miller also explained an added complication would be that property taxes have been used to support CSCOPE, which has faced heavy criticism by parents, teachers and legislators, culminating in hearings that revealed serious academic deficiencies in the areas of math, science and English, as well as what many critics believe is an agenda-driven bias in social studies content that promotes a negative view of America.
The media has reported on lessons claiming the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act, and lessons requiring students to design flags for a new communist country.
Teachers also have reported:
- Lessons are not matched to grade level; a ninth-grade lesson asks students to circle capital letters in a sentence.
- One social studies lesson teaches that capitalism is obsolete and communism is the best economic system, using a diagram that shows a man climbing a ladder towards communism.
- A third-grade lesson defines American “equality” as “fair share.” Competing definitions that include “equality under the law” or “equal opportunity” are not discussed.
- Muhammad is portrayed as a social justice crusader. There is no mention of his marriage to a young girl or his beheading of indigenous population groups.
- Political parties are taught from what critics claim is a subjective and left-leaning perspective, e.g. Democrats “benefit each individual” while Republicans “favor big business.”
- Parents and media watchdog groups have also recently acquired lessons covering the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, teaching students that “medicine” and “food” are “rights,” and not a matter of personal responsibility.Students who do not answer that “medicine” and “food” are “rights” have their answers marked as incorrect, sources report.Other controversial lesson content includes a science lesson that instructs students to set things on fire in the middle of class and also lessons that promote anorexia and mercy death, according to Mary Bowen, a curriculum expert and teacher of 30 years.
CSCOPE also has come under fire for its secrecy and lack of transparency, forcing teachers and districts to sign “user agreements” – what whistleblowers say amount to “gag orders.” Teachers are exposed to legal liability if they share lesson content or other class materials with the general public, and threats of termination have been reported by teachers who attempt to engage parents about controversial CSCOPE content.
One result of legislative hearings was the suggestion for changes in user agreements, but sources have told me that existing users are not included in any changes; they are only for new groups who want to sign up.
A CSCOPE program advising on the privacy requirements for the content notes users are required to not allow “unauthorized users to have online access or gain permanent possession of content.”
WND originally reported this story. Other weblogs have picked it up. The Beaumont School Board held a meeting this past week reviewing the points above. (See above video)
More to come.