May 8, 2013
Texas mom Kara Sands was outraged when she learned that her 5th grade son was being taught that the United States was partially to blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks which killed nearly 3,000 Americans. She was so furious that she posted photos on Facebook of the test administered to her son’s class at Flour Bluff Intermediate School in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Question #3 read: “Why might the United States be a target for terrorism?” Answer: B. “Decisions we made in the United States have had negative effects on people elsewhere.”
Flour Bluff was using a controversial testing format, supported by Safari Montage, to supplement the CSCOPE curriculum system recently adopted in Texas. CSCOPE also asks students to design a flag for “a new socialist nation” and defines the Boston Tea Party as an “act of terrorism.”
Sands proceeded to contact her son’s principal and teacher to meet with them. The school then approached Safari Montage which agreed to change up the test question, while still supporting the video it was based upon. Flour Bluff also continues to defend CSCOPE despite the fact that opposition to it is growing.
CSCOPE has stirred controversy among parents and teachers alike alleging its lack of transparency and oversight by the Texas State Board of Education. CSCOPE’s claim to fame is that it allows teachers to frame lessons to the state-required test. It can also be updated and delivered online, making it less costly than textbooks.
Yet some say CSCOPE’s intent is to eliminate American exceptionalism, the core principles of the Constitution and things specific to our culture ie. Christopher Columbus and Christian traditions. Additionally, it equates America’s military accomplishments with imperialism, while de-emphasizing equality and justice in favor of “fairness.”
Reportedly, when teachers complained that students were unable to absorb CSCOPE material, they were instructed to proceed with the next lesson plan. Teachers were also “asked to sign a contract preventing them from revealing the content of CSCOPE lessons or face civil and criminal penalties,” while testifying at Texas legislative hearings of being fired, disciplined or threatened for speaking out about CSCOPE. Still, approximately 75% of Texas schools, K-12, have adopted it! Some might ask why anyone outside Texas should be worried about CSCOPE? The answer is simple: Common Core.
Common Core is an education initiative that, like CSCOPE, stresses standards-based learning, measuring each student’s knowledge of common components through high-stakes testing. It is defined as “education reform” by Barack Obama, big corporations and its chief sponsor, the National Governor’s Association, with the ultimate goal that all citizens attain a “common core of knowledge.”
Although Common Core was originally conceived as voluntary, the Obama administration made it mandatory for schools seeking a waiver from No Child Left Behind. This got many states to take a closer look.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has encouraged lawmakers to get rid of Common Core, despite the fact her state signed on in 2010, citing federal overreach. In the meantime, the Brookings Institute has concluded that Common Core does little to equalize academic outcomes. Also noteworthy is the fact that Common Core does not even mandate instruction in cursive handwriting.
Yet what is most alarming is Common Core’s use of data mining. The 2009 Stimulus Bill would have public schools use data systems to collect information on students. Currently, all public schools have this capability without parental consent. Schools can now collect information on family health history, income, voting status, religious affiliation and more.
The American Principles Project says Common Core is “part of a broader federal government plan to track individuals from birth to the workforce.” The U.S. Department of Education says Common Core could ultimately assist in “scanning student’s brains, using cameras to judge their facial expressions, an electronic seat to guage their posture and a pressure-sensitive computer mouse to wrap on their wrists.” Orwell would call this systematic student indoctrination!
Currently, only Virginia, Alaska and Texas (with CSCOPE) have rejected Common Core, while Alabama, Indiana and Nebraska have initiated its repeal. Ohio is set to implement it in 2014-2015, leaving a fast-closing window to stop it. Parental pressure must be applied to school boards, administrators, teachers and legislators for this to occur.
If Common Core becomes entrenched within our public schools, it will be yet another politically-correct strike to our childrens’ quality of education, while contributing to the left’s continued destruction of our nation’s traditions.
Mark Figley is a resident of Elida