CSCOPE is the acronym-sounding name — that is not actually an acronym — for the oft-criticized, all-embracing K-12 educational curriculum that is used in 80 percent of the school districts in Texas.
"CSCOPE's high quality curriculum, assessment, and instructional components assist schools in meeting the high standard of rigor and relevance" ostensibly required by various assessments administered by the Lone Star State, touts the nonprofit entity's website.
Most — though not all — of the critics of CSCOPE are politically conservative. They charge that the controversial curriculum is a radical, backdoor way for progressives to circumvent both the Texas legislative process and the desires of local school boards and communities. They also charge that the creators of the curriculum operate secretly and do not make it easy for parents or even school board members to see the material.
The flood of criticism has likely been responsible for a handful of significant, recent changes. CSCOPE meetings will be public now, and content will be a lot more accessible to the general public. Also, a content review system involving parents, teachers and school administrators is in the works.
Complaints about CSCOPE have been many, though. The most common complaints are probably that the curriculum is riddled with cultural relativism and downright leftist assumptions, particularly in social studies. Critics also say that CSCOPE coursework is short on facts and way too long on giving students opportunities to give their uninformed opinions.
Below, The Daily Caller presents 10 of the most egregious examples of the curriculum's inadequacies and absurdities.
1. Islam is awesome
In a unit of high school world history, the online material students are given is essentially a paean to the greatness of Islam and its founder, Mohammed.
One portion involves open-ended discussion of the merits of the hijab — the face and body covering worn by many Muslim women (and under threat of arrest in Saudi Arabia and Iran). Perhaps high school students think the hijab is "freeing because it prevents others from making them into sexual objects." Or perhaps they think the hijab suggests that "women need to be obscured so as not to arouse male desire." Either way, it's fine.
The widespread and ordinary mistreatment of women in Islamic countries — particularly Arab ones — is ignored. Texas high schoolers don't learn, for example, that Jordan and other Islamic kingdoms have laws that pardon rapists if an arrangement can be reached for rapists and their victims to get married.
2. Christianity is a cult
Another portion of the materials on Islam lists several specific lessons that Muslims take from the example of Islam's founder, such as "Be respectful of other religions." Strangely, there does not appear to be any such lesson focused on, say, Moses or Jesus Christ.
Instead, the materials in another world history lesson inform students that Christianity is a cult that parallels the death and resurrection in the story of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead. The same material takes pains to point out that early Christians were accused of incest, cannibalism and other atrocities.
3. Communism is awesome
An illustration in a CSCOPE high school world history handout shows a figure with a trekking pole climbing steps made out of money. A chart immediately to the right concerns "big ideas" in 18th- and 19th-century economic thinking. At the bottom of the chart is free-market capitalism, where "all people strive to fulfill their own needs and wants," and where government control and planning are low.
In the middle is socialism, where "the big things" in society (e.g., "telephones, roads, airports") are "owned by the people." "Can you think of other big stuff that should be covered?" the chart asks. (Note the loaded verb, "should.")
At the top of the chart is communism, which the CSCOPE creators innocuously describe as "the idea of living together in a 'commune' where all people work together for everyone." The chart manages to insult the Marxist vision of communism as well, by suggesting that government control and planning is highest under the system.
There is no mention of the nearly 100 million people who died in the 20th century under various self-described communist regimes around the world.
4. Hey kids! Let's make communist flags
"Imagine a new socialist nation is creating a flag and you have been put in charge of creating a flag," read the instructions from an activity that directs sixth graders to design a socialist or communist flag. "Use symbolism to represent aspects of socialism/communism on your flag."
In the same lesson, students are also instructed that socialist utopian Robert Owen wanted to "give every child born into the world an equal chance to live and grow and to lead a happy life."
No mention is made of the two socialist utopias Owen attempted to create, or how they ended up disastrously failed and disease-ridden.
5. The Boston Tea Party was a terrorist attack
A CSCOPE high school world history lesson plan depicts the Boston Tea Party, the famous protest against taxation without representation, as an act of terrorism.
"A local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization, attacked the property of private citizens today at our nation's busiest port," the part of the curriculum pertaining to the Boston Tea Party reads. "Although no one was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed. The terrorists, dressed in disguise and apparently intoxicated, were able to escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities."
6. Terrorism: what do you think?
The broader world history lesson that calls the Boston Tea Party as an act of terrorism is entitled simply "Terrorism." "What is it that terrorists hope to achieve?" it asks students. "What are the long term goals of terrorism?"
There is substantial discussion concerning Guantanamo Bay. The lesson explains that the United States government holds "known and suspected terrorists" at the American military base in Cuba. The lesson flatly asserts that "prisoners are being held without legal council [sic]," thus grossly simplifying a very complex issue of constitutional and international law, not to mention misspelling counsel.
Additionally, the lesson asks whether the prohibition in the Bill of Rights against cruel and unusual punishment should be extended to "non-citizens (or prisoners)." This question is ludicrous on many levels. Non-citizens are most certainly protected under the Bill of Rights. So are prisoners. "Enemy combatants" is likely the phrase the writers of the lesson were grasping for, but it appears nowhere in the lesson.
Finally, hilariously, the lesson — which must have been initially created around 2008 — notes that "President Obama has now ordered Guantanamo to be closed within a year." Hope and change!
7. Christopher Columbus was an eco-warrior
A third-grade social studies lesson removes vast swaths from Christopher Columbus's journal entries to make it appear that the explorer was a Darwin-esque environmentalist.
"This is so beautiful a place, [with] species so new and dissimilar to that of our country," Columbus writes in the cherry-picked CSCOPE version. "The diversity in the appearance of the feathered tribe from those of our country is extremely curious. A thousand different sorts of trees, with their fruit were to be met with, and of a wonderfully delicious odor."
The writers omit large portions of the journal in their effort to transform Columbus into a tree hugger. Gone are multiple references to God and Christendom, for example. Also left out is the part where Columbus says he is arbitrarily detaining seven native inhabitants so he can parade them in front of the King of Spain.
8. CSCOPE writers pointlessly disparage Paul Revere
A high school social studies lesson on the Bill of Rights allegedly portrayed students to "identify which amendment would apply" to a dozen hypothetical situations. For some bizarre reason, in #9, the CSCOPE curriculum creators decided to have police kick in the door of American patriot Paul Revere's home to search for illegal drugs.
9. Help Ban Ki-moon and his U.N. cronies prevent a Malthusian population catastrophe
A document used in science courses on environmental systems is a letter with mock United Nations letterhead. Addressed "Dear High School Ambassador," the letter explains that world population is approaching "seven billion people." Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "would like you to participate on an international roundtable to discuss the issues."
The letter asks students to take "a position whether to support or oppose the pending resolution that the world must achieve zero population growth by the year 2060." Students should also consider "alternative measures to limit impact of growth."
Nowhere in the document is there any suggestion that more people might be a good thing. The notion of more human beings in the world is presented in an inherently negative light.
10. Murder and extortion were just "protest strategies" used by the Black Panthers
A question on a CSCOPE history exam allegedly listed four groups: the NAACP, Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Black Panthers. The exam then asks: "Which of the above used protest strategies unlike the other groups to achieve equal rights?"
The credited answer is the Black Panthers. Members of the militant socialist organization tortured and murdered 19-year-old Alex Rackley. Nine police officers were killed in confrontations with the group. The Black Panthers also funded their activities by shaking down bar owners and petty criminals in Oakland.