I attended the parent meeting that Wylie Independent School District (WISD) put together on CSCOPE yesterday. I can truthfully say that 2 hours was not nearly enough time. We barely scratched the surface, and I suppose because “Wylie’s blogger” was there, I was interrupted quite a bit and not able to really dig into the curriculum. So too there was a rather large learning curve in figuring out how to use the system and where to look. I need months of uninterrupted time.
I cannot say this enough though, just how impressed I am by the teachers and administrators at WISD. I was indeed impressed with their love of teaching that came through clear as freshly cleaned glass during the presentation. Wylie has absolute top notch employees and teachers. Well, except for that Merrill Young, the convicted liar who was hired to teach 7th grade Social Studies at McMillan Jr. High even though he had a fake degree he purchased from a diploma-mill and was made an instructional aid by Dr. Fuller instead of being fired. Despite that, the reason we moved to Wylie in 2001 when my sons were entering Kindergarten and 2nd grade is because of the school district. I still love WISD, but if we were to do it all over again, we would be looking at Lovejoy schools.
One of Dr. Vinson’s talking points is that CSCOPE saves the teachers’ time. He went on to state that the teachers are allowed to modify the lessons and that there is a flow of communication back and forth between the teachers and the curriculum coordinators who submit changes to CSCOPE routinely. If the teachers have to modify the material, they may as well be writing it. I fail to see a huge time-savings there. I would be interested in seeing just how much material has been changed by teachers. I would be interested in having free access to teachers to query them about their experiences with CSCOPE. I would also like free access to CSCOPE to research, though I understand not allowing access in the home because of the tests on there, where a student might gain access to those were full access given to CSCOPE. Perhaps a set scheduled time at the Educational Service Center where parents could schedule to come in and perform research might be helpful.
In the meeting it was also clear that Dr. David Vinson cares as well, though I wish he were a little more energetic. Just kidding, just kidding. Dr. Vinson’s energy overflows rather abundantly when he talks about education in Wylie. The only thing I would caution him against is not listening more. I know from my own energy level that I have to work to tone it down when it is time to listen. As you might have guessed, there was an irate parent in attendance and he did talk over her quite a bit. Though I understand he feels he has the answers and wants to share them quickly, I find he does talk over people a lot. I would like to see Dr. Vinson listen patiently first and then speak. It goes a long way toward making people feel as though he heard them and is not just rattling off talking points because he holds some level of superior knowledge. People don’t like to be shut down and it felt like he was doing that to her. That behavior sort of fueled that angry mother and further prodded her, which wasted a lot of presentation time, which ultimately wasted a lot of computer screen time.
Despite the awesome presentation, WISD has not quite sold me on CSCOPE yet. One must understand the background of CSCOPE a little, which has not yet been fully revealed, but slowly turn by turn more data is being unearthed. CSCOPE is a derivative of Common Core, which is used widely around the country. Common Core is the baby of brainchild radical left-wing educator Linda Darling-Hammond. Hammond opened a school in California where she wrote this curriculum called CORE. Her school was shut down by the State because the students were failing in mass. Working closely with her colleague Communist terrorist Weather Underground Bill Ayers, she then repackaged her radical curriculum and peddled it to Obama and his administration and was bestowed with the title of Education Advisor to Barack Obama’s campaign. It’s no surprise as President, Obama bought into her Common Core curriculum. Just another reason why the United States Department of Education needs to be abolished and control placed back into the hands of the State.
I truly have a problem with CSCOPEs more sinister roots. Not only is this lovely Humanist Linda Darling-Hammond involved but also the philosophy from Russian Communist Lev Vygotsky and his proximal development nonsense, and also the radical Fenwick English with his 3 minute walk-through bit.
When I mentioned the 3 minute walk-through to Director of Curriculum for Wylie ISD, Kerry Gain, she quickly chimed in, “We don’t use that word.” So WISD doesn’t want to call it what it is, so what do they call it then? Gain went on to say that 3 minutes isn’t nearly long enough. Sadly, it still means that administrators with clip boards are walking in to the classrooms and disrupting the learning of your students as their broad oversight scopes out exactly where the teachers is in the sequencing scheme. It has to be extremely disruptive to the teachers as well. As a teacher, I would feel overwhelmingly oppressed by that method, and yes, it does smack of a Communist regime, which is precisely where the 3 minute walk-through came from.
The fact remains WISD has bought into not only CSCOPE, the curriculum, but CSCOPE, the mentality. Though I was not able to locate some of the more controversial lesson plans floating around in cyberspace, as there was simply not enough time for us to dig, I did find a revision.
As you know, CSCOPE is not static; it is forever changing and being modified. When the writers get ‘caught’ by the public, they revise the lessons as in the case of World History unit 6, lesson 2 titled New Systems of Economic Thinking. A visual has been floating around the blogosphere of a man climbing stairs toward a Communist pinnacle. Can you imagine how that image might resonate in the brain of a visual learning child? There is a man climbing stairs and on the bottom is Free Market Society, where the description is that people “strive to fulfill their own needs”, the next step is labeled Socialism where the people work together for the larger goal, and then Communism where everyone works together for a mutual benefit. This plants the idea in students that we should strive to move up those stairs toward the ultimate in altruistic behavior. Not exactly the theme of Communism, is it?
You may view this lesson here:
I viewed the lesson now revised to a 3 section table reading left to right which lists Communism first, then Socialism, then Free Market System. Though there is a line above this table with arrows on both sides showing a flowing back and forth of the systems, at least they are presented in the order in which we read from left to right, thus Free Market would be the last step read. I personally have no problem with this visual as it is presented now.
These may be handouts and not a required component of the lesson plan, but what with the teacher who uses these handouts? The handouts are available in CSCOPE for use. There is no controlling what the teacher is actually presenting from CSCOPEs plethora of controversial material and since citizens have not had enough time to dig into CSCOPE, we have only barely begun the process of rooting this garbage out.
In the meeting, we were informed that much of what has driven CSCOPE actually exists in the TEKS, or the approved State Board of Education minimum standards that must be taught to our students. While we know there are buzzwords that must be taught, such as Communism, Islam, etc. and knowledge of these ideas helps make our students well-rounded, the problem therein lies in how these ideas are presented by CSCOPE. I cannot tell you because looking for everything specifically is too cumbersome.
The fact remains, a 2 hour parent meeting where more than an hour is taken up by the presentation is not nearly enough time to really dig into CSCOPE and study it. I believe WISD needs to take the same tactic that Lumberton ISD, where that controversial photo of female students wearing burqas took place, has just taken and form a curriculum committee of parents to look into this. Let me be the first to volunteer for such a committee in Wylie.
You may find the article on Lumberton ISD here:
All in all, I am not a CSCOPE cheerleader and I doubt I can be converted. There are too many illicit details, lesson plans, worksheets, etc. for me to be comfortable with it. So too, the STAAR test and CSCOPE use in WISD are too new for us to have any real quantitative results to study. Suffice to say, the proverbial proof will be in the pudding, and we will only be able to rate the effectiveness of CSCOPE once it has been used a few years. While I would love for WISD to immediately stop using CSCOPE, it will not be cost effective. Sadly we have been entwined in the web that is CSCOPE.
If you wish to follow me on Twitter where you can peruse my tweets with links on CSCOPE, you may locate me at @TXun1965.