Debate over CSCOPE heats up in Austin

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on September 13, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 13 at 6:20 PM

AUSTIN -- Parents and teachers from around Texas debated the controversial CSCOPE school curriculum Friday.

The Texas State Board of Education set up a review panel for the social studies part of the curriculum. Friday's meeting provided a sounding board for that. Dozens made the trip to Austin to give board members a piece of their minds on this controversial model.

"Man, this is a mess," said parent Calvin Russell.

Conversation got heated at times.

"Do not accuse parents like myself, who are simply asking questions. Don't accuse someone like me of going out on a witch-hunt and trying to... I have no idea. I'm asking questions and all of a sudden I'm the bad guy," said mother-of-four, Kara Sands.

Sands says she found errors in the curriculum that later got corrected.

"That was when the red flag came up for me personally," she explained.

Sands and other parents also questioned the motives behind the content.

"Some of the lessons my children were bringing home were saying that fracking was causing earthquakes and Texas was going to fall off," Sands claimed.

But some teachers, and school staff members, describe CSCOPE as a "life saver."

"We've had a great implementation experience," said Lorena Independent School District Director of Curriculum Cheri Borchardt. "It's great. You absolutely have to have guidance from somewhere. And the state, that is their job to tell us 'this is the required curriculum.' We appreciate that."

Borchardt likes that teachers still have freedom to create their own lesson plans.

"How we implement it has to be based on our community values and what our people will tolerate or not tolerate. So I think them getting involved in the lesson specifically is a dangerous precedent," Borchardt said.

The debate over CSCOPE is far from over and these parents say they're not giving up.

"Parents have to be involved, we have to see what our kids are learning. And it's OK, we have to stand up for our kids," Sands said.

The official name of CSCOPE changed to the TEKS Resource System as of August 30. Board members say getting rid of it is not an option at this point, but they will continue to review the content and see what changes need to be made.

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