My name is ??? and I am a teacher in the Texas public school system. As an employee of the public school system I have always been careful to express to people who ask me that choosing private school was a very personal choice based on my life experiences, and that public school can be a very good choice for others. I no longer feel that way.
When I received a flyer in my box at school in 2007 from the local Texas Education Service Center in Region ??, I questioned the ethics of Region Centers writing curriculums to sell to public schools. My very informal inquiry of the very person who wrote the article did little to appease me. That is the last time I thought of CSCOPE until my district recently shared its intentions to purchase it. I was shocked to see that the CSCOPE curriculum had already been purchased by 750 plus districts.
Things I know:
CSCOPE’s creation started in 2005 and it was implemented in a few schools in 2006 and 2007.
The Region Service Center web sites say that they are the ones who formed the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative.
State Comptroller, Susan Combs’ web site said that it is a coalition of 810 schools that pitched in $5370.00 each to form the TESCCC.
Which is it, and why the conflicting reports from two government entities? I know that the TESCCC is considered a 501(c)3 non-profit and their headquarters is in the Region XIII building. There is at least one Service Center Employee from nineteen Service Centers who represents the TESCCC.
I received a huge piece of the puzzle when my superintendent sent out an email recently with the following attachment showing TASA’s plans to Derail Texas Education:
Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas
The email from my superintendent was basically sharing a blog by Diane Ravitch and a blog by TASA’s Jenny LaCoste-Caputo. Embedded in Mrs. Ravitch’s blog is a link to “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas.” Following that link you find the Public Education Visioning Institute. At the end of the document it gives background which tells us about Keith Sockwell and Phillip Schlecthy.
Tonight I went to Diane Ravitch’s web blog to make sure that I could direct you to this document. The document is found in the April 3rd entry titled, “Stalking the Vampire.”
But the April 5th entry titled “Soft Science and Less Certainty” is also very revealing of the philosophy behind all this. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
After reading about the “Texas Resolution” in the LaCoste-Caputo blog, I am very concerned.
My superintendent’s email also said that my district was joining the Texas Vision Network. He joined our district last summer as an interim superintendent. He told everyone that he was not going to accept a permanent position and then he became our permanent superintendent. He is a former Region Service Center Employee.
Here is a statement from an article about Keith Sockwell, the man who seems to have started this vision.
“Keith Sockwell, chief executive officer of Cambridge Strategic Services, an education consulting firm, conceived of the initiative after visiting with frustrated Texas school superintendents. “When we look at our public schools today, I’d say they’re doing a dadgum good job of preparing our kids for the 20th and 19th century,” Sockwell said. “It’s almost like we need to blow it up and start over.”
It seems that this man was grilled pretty good back in 1999 by Paul Sadler. He was interim superintendent in Plano and he had basically shut out a group of parents who did not like a new math book he was pushing called Connected Math. This man has a long bio. You should look him up if you don’t already know who he is. He seems to be a banker, a partner in a construction firm that builds schools, and an educational consultant. He is a very rich and powerful man, who also owns an education consulting firm , N2Learning.
Another interesting party in all this is Phillip Schlecthy. He also owns a consulting firm that also happens to be non-profit. One of the documents I read from his web site tells superintendents how to reinvent the school boards. Here is his basic philosophy:
Another person heavily involved is Ervin Knezek. He is also an educational consultant. His company is lead4ward. He was the head of the Region XIII when CSCOPE was being developed. Now he lives in Seattle with his husband. Many of the people who work with him at lead4ward were also writers of CSCOPE. In one of his bios that I read on the web, he claimed to have spent seven years writing a state curriculum in Texas. I can’t find anything else he’s published besides power points selling CSCOPE and telling districts how to talk to teachers and parents.
I can’t help but notice that this Visionary Institute formed by the men I mentioned above, along with 32 “chosen” superintendents, began their journey around the same time that CSCOPE was coming together. I also can’t help but notice that CSCOPE is THE “curriculum” for their vision. CSCOPE began infiltrating the schools at the same time this new philosophy was gaining ground. The overseer of the writing of CSCOPE is calling it a State Curriculum. The words coming out of the mouths of my administrators and curriculum directors are straight from the “sales pitch” and “vision” of others. There is no original thought in any of it. It’s creepy!
Another thing I know for sure is that Region Centers are hiring people at large salaries. The myriad of consultant firms are raking in the dough. There is one on every corner and they are THE visionaries for this new school system. Mr. Sockwell contributes money to Diane Patrick. Diane Patrick wants the SBOE to be part of the Sunset Laws.
The SBOE is the only elected body who might possible represent me honestly, without lobbyist influence. The classrooms in my district have at least 25 students per teacher and rising. Next year students can bring their cell phones! “Bring your own device” is part of this superintendent/visionary/businessman vision. We are spending thousands to create a guest network, and it will be the job of the teacher to monitor the students’ use of this network.
I hate to inform this teacher that Thomas Ratliff is a lobbyist and is illegally a member of the SBOE. Is there a new definition for illegal? How can a lobbyist be on the SBOE? Is there a list of names that are not held responsible for obeying laws? I assume Thomas Ratliff is on the list.
Pearson is another piece of the puzzle that I can’t seem to place. I know it fits but I don’t know where it belongs. One poster on TexasTeacher.net http://Texas.teachers.net/chatboard/topic15932/4.03.12.19.26.11.html says that Pearson is acquiring CSCOPE. I have no idea if this is true or not. If you have trouble finding this site, google (Big P acquiring SCOPE.)
I am not against change! I think that delight directed learning is wonderful. I think that everyone learns better when they teach what they’re learning to someone else. I know that there are problems with gaps in curriculum and with teachers who close their doors and don’t teach.
But this “vision” and this “curriculum” are not the answer. They are doing what public schools have done for years, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I’m learning that constructivism in education is not new, but taking it to the extreme is! They are trying to effect social change through curriculum. They advocate “shared values” and different standards for every child, and no right or wrong answers. It is the biggest change in education that I have seen in my lifetime. And it came through the back door!
These visionaries are masquerading as champions of “no more high stakes testing” and “local control.” In my opinion they are telling people what they want to hear, while couching their agenda in “educational consultant” jargon. They were able to get their “product” in most of the schools in Texas without any parent or teacher review.
- How did this happen?
- How can the Region Service Centers and private education consultants get rich off of the public schools while public schools lay people off and cry for more money from the state?
- What role do the superintendents play in all of this?
- Is this new vision a “Texas” vision for the good of our children, or is it a vision of special interest groups who want to make their values the “shared values” that the vision document speaks of?
- What about real, informed local control?
- How do we make that happen without losing our jobs?
I hope you have answers for me. Thank you for any help you can give me. I have no desire to have my name known or to cause problems for my district. I love my job, and I love my students, but I also love the truth!