CSCOPE, the controversial online curriculum that taught "Allah is God" and currently is used in 80 percent of Texas school districts, has caught the attention of the Obama administration's Department of Education.
A source in the Texas education system has told WND that Common Core operatives in the U.S. Department of Education are actively pursuing CSCOPE as a way around the Texas legislative process.
Texas is one of the few states still resisting implementation of Common Core, Obama's national standards initiative, which many feel is a transparent attempt to nationalize education and progressively control classroom content with minimal parental oversight.
Implementation of Common Core is known to have been made a condition of school systems' receipt of federal dollars under Obama's "Race to the Top" program.
CSCOPE recently has come under fire for evidence of what sources claim to be radical content and secrecy. Now new information of such a radical agenda has surfaced showing CSCOPE connections to Obama mentor and self-acknowledged terror group member Bill Ayers.
WND has documented a strong link between Ayers and CSCOPE heavyweight and Common Core advocate Linda Darling-Hammond. An unrepentant terror group member (and known Obama supporter, financier, and ghost-writer), William "Bill" Ayers was part of the notorious Weather Underground which attempted to bomb the Pentagon in the seventies. After 9/11, Ayers was interviewed by the New York Times, and was quoted as saying he had "no regrets."
Ayers gave Darling-Hammond an enthusiastic endorsement for education secretary when Obama was first elected. Ayers has worked extensively with Darling-Hammond on many of the same projects, even editing her work. Both are part of what some education experts have termed the "small schools movement," which allegedly emphasizes "emotional" responses and output over factual mastery.
Darling-Hammond is mentioned throughout CSCOPE literature, has given innumerable lectures on behalf of CSCOPE, and was part of Obama's educational transition team. She is a primary advocate and proponent of Common Core in Texas, and observers see the acquisition of CSCOPE by the U.S. Department of Education as a logical next step.
This scenario has alarmed those concerned about classroom content accountability. Previously, WND reported how CSCOPE lessons promote Islam, teaching conversion methods and presenting verses from the Quran that denigrate other faiths. In CSCOPE curriculum, the Boston Tea Party is likened to an act of terrorism on par with 9/11. In the wake of the Newtown massacre, the Second Amendment is portrayed as a "collective," not an individual right, despite the Supreme Court's recent rulings to the contrary.
The CSCOPE website has posted a response to concerns about certain lesson plans, including an extensive discussion of the Boston Tea Party. But critics say that such lessons should never have appeared in the first place.
Sources within the Texas education system recently informed WND that Wicca, thought by many to be akin to witchcraft, was being taught in CSCOPE curriculum alongside Christianity, but was removed before the news media could access it, a fact which represents one of the biggest concerns for followers of CSCOPE.
CSCOPE apparently immediately deletes controversial content once leaked, making it impossible at any one time to know exactly what students are learning and in what order. Defenders of this process say that this responsiveness to public scrutiny is a form of self-auditing. Others have said that it simply leaves parents, teachers and those in charge of curriculum oversight powerless to stop agenda-driven lesson plans and the damage the ideas therein might do to students.
WND has documented numerous instances of lessons being deleted after their use in classrooms.
When it was discovered that Islam was being given preferential status as a part of a study on the world's major religions, CSCOPE administrators deleted the lesson plan and associated PowerPoint in the presence of two sources, leaving no trace online.
However, through available technology, documentation of this lesson plan and other such controversial content has been retained and reviewed by Texas educators and WND.
In CSCOPE World History/Social Studies, Lesson 2, Unit 3 under the heading, "Classical Rome," students are told that Christianity is a "cult," and given a link to a BBC article saying the early Christians were "cannibals," i.e. the Eucharist, which students are then led to conclude is the reason for Roman persecution.
This lesson has since been removed, but documentation in WND's possession confirms that the lesson existed. Critics contend that this ability to change content on a whim to evade scrutiny or accountability is a persistent risk with a system like CSCOPE. An organic curriculum – if regulated – might be advantageous, but without transparency, these types of occurrences will likely be more frequent, critics say.
Speaking with WND, Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, new chairman of the education committee, communicated his intent to hold high-profile hearings and investigate CSCOPE.
Sen. Patrick noted, "Any system where the chairman of the state board can't get a password to explore their site in detail for six months, requires teachers to sign an agreement that could subject them to criminal penalties, and is not easily transparent to parents, needs to be closely examined by the legislature."
When asked if he would support placing CSCOPE under state oversight and/or local school board oversight, Sen. Patrick answered carefully, explaining,
"We will make that decision after our hearings. However, I have concerns of any curriculum program that is in the majority of our school districts without some level of oversight by either the SBOE, TEA, or the legislature."
Patrick, along with many other Republicans, supported the 2011 legislation that took power over Internet curriculum review away from the SBOE, though this provision was admittedly ill-understood in its implications and was originally intended to reduce the cost-burden to school districts in obtaining and distributing the curriculum. While reducing costs, this move also created the basis of the current controversy.
Opponents of CSCOPE, on the other hand, desire a lawsuit. They do not want to wait for hearings. As they contend, CSCOPE is already violating Texas public statutes, which require all "instructional materials" to be available to parents. CSCOPE places all primary content – apart from summaries – behind a pay wall.
Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC) Governing Board minutes, obtained only by Texas Public Information Act request, reveal that even the governing board in charge of CSCOPE may not be fully aware of CSCOPE content issues.
Minutes for the meetings covered show that governing board members were told by CSCOPE Executive Director Wade Labay that they will only be involved in content-related issues if "politically sensitive," what Labay calls "'911′ type messages or those deemed critical." In other words, in addition to the absence of state oversight, corporate oversight within CSCOPE might be lacking.
The fears of some that CSCOPE is replacing textbooks, a claim denied by Texas SBOE member Thomas Ratliff, would appear justified if governing board minutes are considered.
In addition to outlining when and under what circumstances CSCOPE would communicate with the TESCCC governing board, pending textbook alignments with Pearson, McGraw Hill, et al., were discussed and delayed with the support of governing board members. Some attendees lamented even having to align CSCOPE content with textbooks, since "the mission of CSCOPE is to change instruction in the classroom."
TESCCC has now asked the Texas Attorney General to make its minutes exempt from public information requirements.