A Kilgore educator will serve on a statewide panel that was named Wednesday to review elements of a disputed school curriculum aid.
The seven-member board that will examine the CSCOPE curriculum guide is charged by State Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill with appointing review panels to vet CSCOPE's content.
Lessons included in the curriculum guide have drawn fire from conservatives who have accused its designers of camouflaging national standards that have been rejected in Texas.
Elizabeth Abernathy, the executive director of the Kilgore-based Region VII Education Service Center, said Thursday she looks forward to serving on the committee.
She said one reason is she hopes to learn more about what the board actually will be doing. An announcement by Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, loosely outlines the board's charge:
"The ... committee will appoint review panels to examine the CSCOPE instructional content, beginning with social studies. A public process will solicit nominations for the review panels which will be composed of parents, educators, curriculum specialists, business professionals and other stakeholders."
"I'm just hoping for a strong collaboration," Abernathy said. "CSCOPE was developed as a teacher tool to help meet the (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) that were lined out by the State Board of Education a number of years ago. It was always meant to be a teacher tool."
Its lessons and goals are tied to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. Those are the tests used in the public school accountability ratings.
Critics also railed against lessons teaching students to describe the tenets of Islam and asking them to consider the Boston Tea Party from all perspectives — including King George's.
"CSCOPE has 1,800 lessons," said Thomas Ratliff, the Northeast Texas member of the State Board of Education. "I do believe that CSCOPE is a quality product — it's not perfect. ... I think some school districts lean too heavily on it."
CSCOPE, loosely an acronym for Curriculum at the Scope and Sequence, is a web-based system created in 2005 by a coalition of the 20 education service centers in Texas.
The system aims to ensure that what children learn in a subject area is consistent from classroom to classroom across the state.
CSCOPE is in use at 877 of the state's 1,028 districts — including many in East Texas — and 103 of its 199 charter schools.
It also is subscribed to by other school districts including the Catholic Diocese of Austin school system, Ratliff said.
"Do you think the Catholic Diocese of Austin promotes a Muslim agenda?" Ratliff asked.
Cargill, who until last year included Gregg among counties in her state board district, did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.