In a pretty shocking move, the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative — the entity that administers CSCOPE — announced Monday that it has agreed to cease production of lesson plans for its much-criticized online curriculum system.
Beginning Aug. 31, 2013, school districts in the Lone Star State will no longer be permitted to use any existing CSCOPE lesson plans. CSCOPE itself will be far from dead, however, and other features of curriculum system will continue unchanged.
CSCOPE is the acronym-sounding name — that is not actually an acronym — for the oft-criticized, all-embracing K-12 online educational curriculum that has been used in 877 Texas districts, which is nearly 80 percent of the state's school districts.
The agreement to end the lesson-plan element of the program was brokered over the course of three days, according to the Houston Chronicle. At the end of this week, the 20 members of the CSCOPE board plan to vote as an undivided bloc to eliminate CSCOPE lesson plans.
"The era of CSCOPE lesson plans has come to an end," said Sen. Dan Patrick, a Republican from Houston, in a statement.
"I'm pleased that the CSCOPE Board has made the decision to get out of the lesson plan business," Patrick added.
Before Monday's announcement, a throng of mostly conservative, grassroots critics had persistently protested that the curriculum is riddled with cultural relativism and downright leftist assumptions, particularly in history and social studies.
They pointed to lesson plans informing kids in the state's public schools that Islam and communism are awesome, just for example. Students also learned that the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist attack, that Christianity is a cult and that a Malthusian population catastrophe is about to overtake the planet.
In another incident, a teacher in Lumberton using a CSCOPE lesson plan allowed three female students to dress up in full-length Islamic burqas and then instructed the entire class that Muslim terrorists are actually freedom fighters.
In a recent education committee hearing in the Texas state Senate, several school superintendents had testified that CSCOPE is valuable to them because it is inexpensive and flexible.
Texas Freedom Network, a group that monitors the activities of what it deems the far right, has called the agreement to abolish CSCOPE lesson plans "successful witch hunt," reports the Chronicle.
"Today political bullying resulted in hundreds of school districts getting thrown under the bus and essentially told to figure out for themselves where to find the resources to replace the service CSCOPE had provided them," said Kathy Miller, the organization's president in a press release.
Meanwhile, CSCOPE board member Kyle Wargo was substantially more circumspect.
"We've learned one thing: lesson plans have a lot of subjectivity to them. We talk about how vast Texas is — one size does not fit all in this great state," Wargo said, according to the Chronicle. "Lessons need to be developed at a local level, by the teacher, who understands the values and needs in that community."
Danelle Ivey, a former teacher and now a Texas school board watchdog, called Monday's announcement a "very interesting turn of events," but noted that CSCOPE is by no means going to disappear.
The big, obvious question, Ivey told The Daily Caller, is what happens after Aug. 31. She is optimistic that teachers will quickly learn to manage without prefabricated lesson plans.
"Writing a lesson plan is a core competency of being a teacher; it's not rocket science," she told TheDC. "It wasn't a burden to be creative or to enrich lessons without the internet. It's got to be a walk in the park today."
Ivey also noted that until now school districts have paid for CSCOPE under a per-student fee model.