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From the Office of the Attorney General…
Parents told to pay
Controversy over Texas program that described
A controversial school curriculum management system in Texas that once included a description of the Boston Tea Party as terror, and has referenced Islamic terrorists as freedom fighters, now has been found to be trying to charge parents hundreds of dollars to see the instructional materials being used by their own children, officials said.
However, under Texas Education Code Chapter 26, all parents have the undisputed right to see any and all instructional materials used in state classrooms.
The program is CSCOPE, and Amy Zimmerman, a mother in the Collinsville Independent School District, asked to see the 7th grade CSCOPE science lessons used between September 2012 and May 2013, citing her “parental right” under state law.
Gerry Miller, an attorney with expertise in education law, said that doesn’t appear to align with the law.
“Suffice it to say the statute is mandatory because of the use of the word ‘shall,’ it is therefore incumbent on the school to comply with the parent’s request. No provision is made for payment by a parent as a ‘condition precedent’ to obtaining the teaching material,” Miller said.
“If a school district demands fees, especially exorbitant fees, to review teaching material, such action has the effect of invalidating the statute’s intent,” he said. “I would fully expect a judge to apply the statute as written and order the school to provide the information without charge.”
Miller also explained an added complication would be that property taxes have been used to support CSCOPE, which has faced heavy criticism by parents, teachers and legislators, culminating in hearings that revealed serious academic deficiencies in the areas of math, science and English, as well as what many critics believe is an agenda-driven bias in social studies content that promotes a negative view of America.
WND has reported on lessons claiming the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act, and lessons requiring students to design flags for a new communist country.
Teachers also have told WND:
WND has also recently acquired lessons covering the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, teaching students that “medicine” and “food” are “rights,” and not a matter of personal responsibility.
Students who do not answer that “medicine” and “food” are “rights” have their answers marked as incorrect, sources report.
Other controversial lesson content includes a science lesson that instructs students to set things on fire in the middle of class and also lessons that promote anorexia and mercy death, according to Mary Bowen, a curriculum expert and teacher of 30 years who corresponds with WND.
CSCOPE also has come under fire for its secrecy and lack of transparency, forcing teachers and districts to sign “user agreements” – what whistleblowers say amount to “gag orders.” Teachers are exposed to legal liability if they share lesson content or other class materials with the general public, and threats of termination have been reported by teachers who attempt to engage parents about controversial CSCOPE content.
One result of legislative hearings was the suggestion for changes in user agreements, but sources have told WND that existing users are not included in any changes; they are only for new groups who want to sign up.
A CSCOPE program advising on the privacy requirements for the content notes users are required to not allow “unauthorized users to have online access … or gain permanent possession of … content.”
Attorney General Abbott Sends Letter to TESCCC
Regarding Disclosure of CSCOPE Materials
May 6, 2013
Ms. Anne Poplin
Dear Ms. Poplin:
It has come to our attention that school districts may be denying Texas parents access to CSCOPE curriculum and materials in violation of the Texas Education Code. Specifically, it has been alleged that school districts are improperly attempting to charge parents hundreds of dollars in order to access CSCOPE-related information that must be provided to them under Texas law.
As you know, Section 26.006(a) of the Texas Education Code provides that parents are “entitled to review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent’s child.” The Education Code also provides that school districts “shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents.” Further, Texas law specifically states that “A student’s parent is entitled to request that the school district…allow the student to take home any instructional materials used by the student.”
Notwithstanding the fact that Texas law clearly requires school districts to make educational materials accessible to parents, it is our understanding that school districts have recently attempted to charge hundreds of dollars for information related to the CSCOPE curriculum. To the extent parents are being charged a fee in order to access CSCOPE-related information, such a fee is not authorized by the Education Code.
In light of these concerns, we request that the TESCCC promptly notify school districts that information related to CSCOPE must be provided to parents in accordance with Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code, which does not authorize the imposition of a fee. With summer fast approaching, it is imperative that the TESCCC distribute the notification requested herein immediately so that parents are assured access to CSCOPE-related information before the end of the school year. Finally, be advised that failure to comply with the Education Code’s disclosure requirements could result in legal action against school districts.
cc: The Honorable Dan Patrick
Most timely and instructive content…