Engaged in fierce competition for conservative voters, two Republican candidates in the crowded contest for lieutenant governor are elevating a controversy over perceived liberal bias in classroom lessons from a sideshow to the center ring.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, have focused new attention on disputed claims that the lessons — known as CSCOPE — diminish American and Christian values while promoting socialism and Islam. Both are also calling for an audit of CSCOPE’s financial operations.
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- A group of Texas regional Education Service Centers launched CSCOPE in 2006 to offer school districts a cost-effective curriculum management system that was aligned with state standards. The system includes lesson plans, assessments, instructional calendars and other curriculum tools.
- As of last year, 70 percent of Texas school districts, serving 34 percent of public school students, subscribed to CSCOPE. Most of them are smaller districts that don’t have the resources for the their own curriculum departments.
- Central Texas school districts using CSCOPE include Bartlett, Bastrop, Elgin, Florence, Granger, Hays, Hutto, Jarrell, Lago Vista, Lake Travis, Liberty Hill and Wimberley. It is also used by some area private schools, including Hyde Park Baptist, Bannockburn Christian Academy and the Catholic Diocese of Austin.
- Among the 1,600 lesson plans, only a few have stirred up controversy. For example, World History students were tasked to design a flag for a socialist country as part of a unit on different economic systems. A separate World History lesson asked students to discuss whether the Boston Tea Party would have been considered terrorism in the eyes of the British.