CScope curriculum review smacks of thought police

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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I never thought I would find myself writing to defend CScope, a curriculum and assessment system developed by Texas Regional Education Service Centers.

As a Saturday Star-Telegram news story stated, more than 70 percent of Texas school districts use CScope. (See: "Goals outlined for studying teaching system," also online at bit.ly/YZxiwd)

CScope is cost-effective for school districts that cannot afford curriculum development staffs, and it has the advantage of being completely aligned with the state's education standards.

I teach curriculum theory and development at both the master's and doctorate levels at Texas Christian University. My defense of CScope is ironic because one of the class assignments I give students is to improve upon CScope by making it conform more to the latest research advances in learning theory and effective instructional practice.

While my students' evaluation is academic and scientific, the evaluation by state officials that the Star-Telegram article describes involves evaluating CScope to see whether it supports and does not conflict with specific political ideologies and religious beliefs that certain groups within the state wish to promote.

The story cited critics as saying that CScope promotes Islam, socialism and liberalism. This critique provokes me to ask the following questions:

Does anyone in their right mind believe that Texas teachers and administrators, working for a state agency like the Regional Service Centers, would write a curriculum that encourages children to reject their current religion in favor of another religion?

When does discussing with students that there are a variety of religious beliefs held by other people and what those beliefs are constitute intolerable heresy?

When did it become inappropriate to permit students to use logic and reason to evaluate whether a body of knowledge is justified?

Need we remind state politicians that this is the United States of America and that the Constitution protects freedom of thought, freedom of speech and the right for individuals to hold and practice the religious beliefs of their choice? Are these purifications of the curriculum according to a specific ideology and set of religious beliefs any different from what occurred in: Europe during the Dark Ages, Soviet Russia, Communist China, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan or in current-day Iran?

Have these geniuses ever heard of the Internet and mass media? Even if you control the minds and thoughts of children, they are only a point-and-click away from alternative viewpoints.

Is it not of value to give children the tools to appropriately evaluate the unlimited information and viewpoints that they will encounter in their futures? Those who value the freedom and tolerance we are privileged to enjoy as Americans need to start speaking out against this type of nonsense.

Instead of oversight committees or idea police created by state Sen. Dan Patrick and headed by State Board of Education member Pat Hardy of Weatherford, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Texas teachers to restore their right to freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of religion might be in order.

Steffen Palko is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership at Texas Christian University.

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