CSCOPE Debate with Senator Dan Patrick & SBOE Member Thomas Ratliff

Ratliff, Patrick Exchange Words Over CSCOPE Lessons
On Saturday evening, SBOE member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, the chairm of the Senate’s education committee, sparred over the controversial lesson plans before a vocal audience that filled the University of Texas at Tyler’s student activity center. Grassroots activists have relentlessly pushed to eliminate the lessons, which are used by 70 percent of Texas school districts, because of a perceived liberal, anti-American agenda.
The unusual event — a public debate between two elected officials of the same party who are not primary opponents — came about after Ratliff acccepted an offer from Patrick, who said on his Facebook page that he would debate any CSCOPE defender.  CONTINUE READING…

College Costs Will Keep Rising Under Obama Plan

Colleges’ exploitation of young Americans through rapidly rising and increasingly exorbitant fees is a national scandal that can no longer be ignored. In his recent college tour, President Barack Obama spoke at length about what he intends to do about it, after promising “tough love” on higher education for the last two years, says Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics emeritus at Ohio University.

Some of what he proposes is good in principle; some is very bad.

  • Obama wants to expand access to information on colleges by having the Department of Education issue a ranking of institutions relating outcomes to costs.
  • The government has the power, via the Internal Revenue Service, to get some interesting data on college graduates’ earnings and providing that data to consumers would be useful.
  • Even independent college rankings — such as those published by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes — could be improved with more data.

Continue Reading,…



[8.27.13 — I will be sending this out later as a shorter version to keep on an iPhone/iPad. The iPhone/iPad version will contain a link to one website where a person can see the entire anti-CSCOPE Resources List. This will make it possible for iPhone/iPad users to have all of these anti-CSCOPE resources at their fingertips.


However, there are those people who prefer to receive their articles for use on a computer/laptop so that they can file them more easily. This full list is for them.  – Donna Garner]




*Compiled by Donna Garner


For people who want to research CSCOPE, its ties with Common Core Standards, the Texas public school accountability system, and the dumbing down of Texas public schools through legislative intent, the following list of resources should be invaluable. I have taken the liberty to change the subject lines in some cases to make it easier for the public to locate articles.)

Continue reading “UPDATED 8-27-2013 ANTI-CSCOPE RESOURCES LIST”

“CSCOPE Debate: Sen. Dan Patrick Clear Winner”

by Donna Garner


Below are a few of my thoughts on the CSCOPE debate last night between Sen. Dan Patrick vs. Thomas Ratliff (ineligible member of the Texas State Board of Education).  It was evident to me that Sen. Dan Patrick won the debate.


Represented grassroots citizens:  Sen. Dan Patrick (chair of Senate Education Committee/running for Lt. Gov.) defended the right of parents and the public to see the curriculum 24/7 that is being taught to public school children.  Sen. Patrick is concerned about the millions of public dollars spent by the Education Service Centers on CSCOPE without their following the proper bidding and contractual processes.

Represented the education establishment:  Mary Anne Whiteker was a pro-CSCOPE panelist, is the superintendent of Hudson ISD, and is president of the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS).

Represented the grassroots citizens:  JoAnn Fleming was a second panelist. She was chosen because of her strong support for the Constitution; and as the Executive Director of Grassroots America, she believes strongly in the rights of “We the people” to direct the education of their children.

During the debate, it was Thomas Ratliff and Mary Ann Whiteker who sought to support CSCOPE by criticizing a report done by E. W. Burt (Business/Marketing teacher in Blanket ISD) in which his students compared CSCOPE schools’ STAAR/End-of-Course scores with state averages.

After repeatedly trashing Burt’s creative classroom assignment which captured a teachable moment for his students, Ratliff/Whiteker lauded two doctoral studies on CSCOPE done by students at Texas Tech and Baylor University.

I found the two doctoral studies by doing an Internet search.  Both dissertations used TAKS data which means the conclusions from those two doctoral studies are completely irrelevant to today’s discussions.  The TAKS tests were built upon the “old” TEKS curriculum standards (1997), and those standards and TAKS tests are a thing of the past: 

 Texas Tech University Libraries – CSCOPE Search ––

(2)  Gaylon Craig Spinn – “Instructional Leadership: The Efficacy of Student Performance with CSCOPE Curriculum Implementation” – Abstract page ix:

“The purpose of this study was to evaluate, via latent growth modeling, the effects of CSCOPE curriculum implementation upon student academic performance in mathematics as measured by the Texas Assessments of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests.”  


BEARdocs – Baylor University — Electronic Theses and Dissertations —

“CSCOPE’s effect on Texas’ state mandated standardized test scores in mathematics” by Brent Ross Merritt

“The purpose of the study was to examine standardized test scores of school districts in the state of Texas that have implemented CSCOPE…in an effort to determine what effect, if any, its implementation has had. The standardized test used in the state of the Texas is titled the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). This study used a sample size of 56 school districts and included test scores from over 125 individual campuses. Archival TAKS data were collected from the 2007-2008, 2008-2009, and 2009-2010 school years for grades 3-8…”


On the other hand, E. W. Burt’s report was current because it was done on the new STAAR/End-of-Course test data (see Burt’s comments posted further on down the page).  Sen. Dan Patrick praised E. W. Burt and his students for their hard work and for the relevancy of their report.

To prove whether or not the CSCOPE lessons effectively raise academic achievement, the data must come from the STAAR/EOC tests given in School Year 2011-12 and School Year 2012-13 – the only two yearsfrom which we have tests aligned with the SBOE-approved TEKS (adopted from May 2008 – July 2012).

If Ratliff/Whiteker were trying to use the two doctoral studies to prove that CSCOPE raises current academic achievement, their assertion was false because the TAKS data is completely out of alignment with the new TEKS.  In fact, the TAKS tests have been widely discredited because of their mediocre-to-low rigor.

Saying that CSCOPE is a superior system because students scored high on the TAKS tests is like saying that high-school students are well-educated because they can read the children’s nursery rhyme “Little Bo Peep.”

The 1997 Type #2 TEKS/TAKS are completely different from the new 2008-2010 Type #1 TEKS/STAAR/EOC’s:



According to Texas law, school administrators should be using public dollars to purchase instructional materials that prepare students to learn the new SBOE-approved TEKS and the tests built upon them (STAAR/EOC’s – Type #1) – not the out-of-date TEKS and TAKS built upon a completely different philosophy of education (Type #2).




Breaking News On CSCOPE

8.8.13 – BREAKING NEWS ON CSCOPE- information from Donna Garner

Yesterday, Texas State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill met with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Sen. Duncan, and others including Marty Rowley, the CSCOPE Ad Hoc committee chair.

It was decided that Rowley’s AD Hoc committee needs to be reactivated to review the CSCOPE social studies lessons for alignment with the state-adopted TEKS and to check for factual errors and/or bias.

Because hundreds of school districts have defiantly said they are going to use these CSCOPE lessons in classrooms even past the August 31, 2013 date, it is important for the Ad Hoc to renew their work to make sure that Texas children are exposed to instructional materials that are aligned with the state-adopted curriculum standards (TEKS).

The following SBOE members have been asked to serve on the Ad Hoc — Pat Hardy, Mavis Knight, and Tom Maynard.  More details will be forthcoming.

The SBOE will oversee the Ad Hoc committee process with the hopes that local school districts will take seriously the posted evaluations and recommendations regarding the CSCOPE social studies lessons.

The comments from the Ad Hoc should help school districts to implement SB 1474 — mandates that teachers, district employees, members of the public, and local school board members be a part of the decision-making process to implement major curriculum initiatives.

The choices that the group yesterday had were either (1) to ignore the fact that teachers still plan to use the CSCOPE lessons or (2) to confront the situation head-on, evaluate the lessons, and make sure that the lessons are aligned with the TEKS and that errors and/or bias are removed.

The plan is to have this CSCOPE review of the social studies lessons finished by October 2013 so that the SBOE can continue with its very busy and important schedule of evaluating instructional materials.

In the September and November SBOE meetings, the Board will hold public hearings for people wanting to testify about the K-12 science and K-3 math instructional materials that are currently being reviewed. 

Donna Garner


August 24: CSCOPE Debate with Senator Dan Patrick & Thomas Ratliff


Below please find a Press Release from Senator Dan Patrick announcing a debate scheduled between himself and Thomas Ratliff, SBOE District 9
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Contact:  Allen Blakemore

Patrick to Ratliff: I’m Coming to East Texas, Will You Be There?

HOUSTON – With the Third Called Special Session behind him, State Senator Dan Patrick, authentic conservative candidate for Lt. Governor, answered the challenge to Thomas Ratliff, State Board of Education – District 9, member.  Mr. Ratliff, a staunch defender of the controversial CSCOPE education curriculum, had previously challenged Sen. Patrick, an outspoken critic, to publicly debate the issue.

The details of the event are:

 Date:  Saturday, August 24, 2013

Time:  6:30pm
Place:  Lakeview Church of the Nazarene, 10818 Spur 248, Tyler TX
Host Organization:  Grassroots America – We the People
Organizer:  JoAnn Fleming
Moderator:  TBD

“Mr. Ratliff issued the ‘anytime-anyplace’ challenge, and Sen. Patrick accepts,” said Allen Blakemore. “Sen. Patrick is prepared to meet him more than half way – two third to be more precise (Houston to Tyler = 199 miles / Mt. Pleasant to Tyler = 66 miles).  Sen. Patrick will travel into the heart of Mr. Ratliff’s SBOE district, Smith County, and hold a public conversation with Mr. Ratliff.  Sen. Patrick has deferred the coin toss and given the home field advantage to Mr. Ratliff.”

“I’ll give him the home field advantage, but I will not concede the high ground,” said Dan Patrick.  “The CSCOPE curriculum was an ill-conceived program, shrouded in secrecy.  When I shined a light on it during the Legislative Session; it could not withstand close scrutiny.  All the parties agreed the program would be dismantled.  But a lawyer, a few supporters, and Mr. Ratliff have tried to renege on the deal and resurrect this program.”

“Sen. Patrick looks forward to the opportunity to have a public conversation with Mr. Ratliff on the matter.  We eagerly await his reply,” Blakemore concluded.

The planned event will follow the Texas Tribune’s well-known ‘conversation’ style, to allow a more unstructured, free flowing exchange of ideas.


Repairing America’s Unhealthy Relationship with Student Debt

June 28, 2013

While household debt comes in many forms, only student debt grew during the Great Recession. Federal policy has encouraged this habit. In the two years following the financial crisis, spending on student loans grew 19 percent and 18 percent, respectively, says Judah Bellin of the Manhattan Institute.

The student debt problem has been mounting for decades. However, recent debates over the value of a college degree have inspired a new focus.

Total student loan debt has grown dramatically in the past decade:

  • From 2007 to 2012, total student debt nearly doubled, from $548 billion to $966 billion.
  • Recent graduates hold the most debt: the total loan debt of individuals under the age of 30 increased from $220 billion to $322 billion from 2007 to 2012, and their average loan balances increased from $16,425 to $21,402.
  • One recent study suggests that the average student debt for graduates in the class of 2011 was $26,500, a 5 percent rise from the previous year.

Default rates are also growing.  CONTINUE READING….

Little progress shown on STAAR end-of-course tests

By Benjamin Wermund

American-Statesman Staff

Texas students — still adjusting to a new standardized test — fared no better on the new, more difficult test administered this spring. The writing portion of the test again stumped nearly half of those taking it for the first time.

Of the 338,646 9th-graders taking the writing portion of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness for the first time, just 54.3 percent passed, down two-tenths of a percent from 2012, the first year the test was administered.

Overall, passing rates on the STAAR end-of-course tests were largely stable during the second year of the program, with students faring the best on science assessments.

Passing rates on courses typically taken by high school freshman ranged from 88 percent on Biology to 54 percent on English I writing. The results showed very little change from 2012 levels when comparing the performance of first-time test takers.

“We know that we are asking more of our students and educators under the STAAR program,” Commissioner of Education Michael Williams said in a statement. “Our students and teachers are still adjusting to the new expectations, but it is clear we must improve instruction to meet 21st century demands.”

Here’s a breakdown of the passing rates: Continue reading here…


By Peggy Venable

CSCOPE is among the most controversial topics in the Lone Star State. Surprisingly, many Texans have never heard of it.

CSCOPE is a curriculum management system that has been sold to more than 850 Texas public, private and charter schools. It was developed by a division of the Texas Education Agency, which went to great lengths to avoid public oversight over the process.

Directors of the agency’s regional Education Service Centers created a nonprofit shell organization called the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, which exists in name only, and made themselves directors of this organization, which served only to move CSCOPE development out of public view. Since then, the directors, whose salaries are taxpayer funded, have met and worked in secret, using the nonprofit agency as a shield against open records and open meetings.

CSCOPE is controversial by virtue of its veil of secrecy, its financial trail (or lack thereof) and its contentious lesson plans.

Teachers had been required to sign a form that prohibited them from discussing CSCOPE and from publicly criticizing the lesson plans. Parents have not been given access to the lesson plans. Even the elected State Board of Education chairman was not given access to the curriculum for six months.

Some curriculum specialists claim CSCOPE helps schools utilize Common Core Standards, a set of general education standards pushed by the Obama Administration and that Texas has soundly rejected. Common Core Standards take control away from local educators and increase costs without adding rigor or improving student outcomes.

The leadership of the 20 service centers has worked to avoid transparency and review of CSCOPE, and in doing so have betrayed the public trust.




School Moms Not Happy with U.S. Public Education System

U.S. education has become less and less competitive with the rest of the world, and U.S. citizens are beginning to realize the inadequacies of American education. In fact, 61 percent of K-12 school moms believe that U.S. public schools have “gotten off on the wrong track,” says Paul DiPerna, research director at the Freidman Foundation for Educational Choice.

U.S. school moms not only believe that education has gotten off on the wrong track, but believe that the government has acted poorly in handling educational matters.

  • Only 26 percent of Americans feel that K-12 education is going in the right direction.
  • When asked to “rate the federal government’s handling of matters in K-12 education,” about four out of five school moms (79 percent) say “fair” or “poor.”

Based on this information, it is clear that the general consensus of school moms is that the U.S. education system is failing to live up to the expectations of mothers. The dim view of government-provided K-12 education is not exclusive to mothers — nearly three quarters of all Americans surveyed, regardless of whether they have children, view it as being fair or poor.

Continue reading from NCPA…