Thomas Ratliff: State Board of Education

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Texas TribuneThe following is a volley of comments between Thomas Ratliff,  the Vice-Chair of the Texas State Board of Education, and concerned Texas Citizens.

These comments followed an article about CSCOPE in the Texas Tribune.

I have added comments in red type. Janice VanCleave


Laurie Guthrie

  • NO cscope. Common Core back door. “One teacher described a thought-control training seminar in her school district titled “Making the Common Core Come Alive.” A worksheet labeled “COMMON CORE MIND SHIFTS” included the following rhetorical muck:—The goal of curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content. … If done well, Common Core will elevate our teaching to new heights, and emphasize the construction of meaning, while deepening our understanding of our students.”—”In our classrooms, it is the students’ voices, not the teachers’, that are heard.”Blah, blah, blah. In practice, Common Core evades transparency by peddling shoddy curricular material authored by anonymous committees. It promotes faddish experiments masquerading as “world-class” math and reading goals. Instead of raising expectations, Common Core is a Trojan horse for lowering them. California, for example, is now citing Common Core as a rationale for abandoning algebra classes for 8th graders.Common Core’s “constructivist” approach to reading is now the rationale for abandoning classic literature for “informational texts.” [See Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s alternative English language standards here, which she is offering to any school district/educators for free.]”

For more information about Common Core:

Thomas Ratliff, Vice-Chair of Texas State Board of Education

So let me get this straight. The legislature passes HB 5 which gives local school boards a new found level of flexibility and local control, but now Senator Patrick and Lt. Governor Dewhurst are trying to “out fringe” each other with talk of gag orders, repealing the 1st amendment and micromanaging the lesson plans for the first time in the history of Texas.

Laurie, CSCOPE is a TEXAS ONLY product. It does not cover the common core. You are entitled to your own opinion, but you aren’t entitled to your own facts.

This whole issue boils down to one thing. Dan Patrick wants to be Lt. Governor and he had a miserable session because he’s a bully, has no leadership of his committee and is wrong on the issues. He’s now trying to resurrect his “conservative” credentials by taking a page out of the big government playbook and micromanaging 1000+ local schools from his state office in Austin, which now doubles as his campaign office.

Ironic that the man who ran for the legislature as an “outsider” has become the ultimate big government insider.

I’m asking educators, parents, teachers and school board members to remember their school’s anti-bullying policy and stand up to this bully. Tell him that the “I” in “ISD” stands for independent and we don’t want or need one state senator trying to appoint himself as the czar of Texas education.

Mr. Ratliff’s information is  incorrect. In January, 2013, testimony given to the first Senate Education Committee hearing on CSCOPE revealed that it was Texas Teachers who were under a gag order not to reveal the content of CSCOPE and it is Texas Teacher who are being micromanaged by administrators using the CSCOPE Managing System. Senator Patrick as well as Lt. Governor Dewhurst are trying to free teachers from CSCOPE, which as shown during the State Ed. Committee Hearing on CSCOPE has lessons filled with errors, poor science structure, biased lessons that are anti-American, pro-Islamic, opinions, and not fact based. 

I like Mr. Ratliff’s comment about the “i” in ISD standing for independent. I want Mr. Ratliff to remember this because CSCOPE is a one-size fits all Instruction Program that promote a “Common Language” for Texas. This is one of the ESC/CSCOPE double meaning terms and has nothing to do with language. Instead, it refers to student across the state of Texas being taught by CSCOPE teachers using scripted CSCOPE lessons, following a CSCOPE yearly schedule with the objective of all Texas Students being educated on an “Even Playing Field.” Thus a student transferring from the panhandle of Texas to Houston could enter his new school and be on the same page.  To have an equal –even playing field for every student in Texas so that all students are instructed from the same CSCOPE scripted lessons, the CSCOPE authors have to make a decision on the level of the field. Does one-size-fits-all work for every Texas Student? 

I did not agree with the deal that Senator Patrick made with the ESC/CSCOPE directors. But, I do applaud Senator Patrick for  recognizing that the ESC/CSCOPE directors purposely deceived him/ While the senator was making the deal, the CSCOPE website had detailed instructions directing school districts to download and save the CSCOPE lessons before the lessons are removed the files of the ESC/CSCOPE. If one is not familiar with the CSCOPE directors’ double talk, I call “Educaneze, ”  it is easy to be fooled by them. What Senator Patrick learned is that he cannot trust the ESC/CSCOPE directors, thus this group needs to be investigated to confirm that they can be trusted with millions of dollars of grant money; are trustworthy to provide educational workshops for educators that provide content based instruction aligned with the state standards. The CSCOPE workshops do not do this.

  • Stace InTexas via Texas Tribune on Facebook

    What this boils down to, Thomas Ratliff, is the fact CSCOPE announced they were no longer in the lesson plan business. You slammed Patrick about it soon after it was announced.

    It’s hilarious how you politicians try to make this out to be about something that it’s not.

  • July 25 @ 6:17 a.m.

    Thomas Ratliff

    Stace, you are right and I’ll continue to slam Patrick for his actions on this issue. CSCOPE may have flinched under the threats of Senator Patrick, but they don’t speak for the 800+ school districts with their 5,600 locally elected school board members that rely on this as one of the tools in their toolbox.

    For those of us who read “Animal Farm” growing up, I want to share a couple of excerpts from the book that seem particularly relevant today.

    Napoleon, the pig that had helped orchestrate the coop against the farmer, got a little power hungry. One day, he announced that from now on the Sunday morning meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary and wasted time. In the future, all questions related to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs, presided over by himself. These would meet in private and afterwards communicate their decision to the others. (Does this sound like a private meeting between Senator Patrick and the ESC directors that resulted in a press conference where their “decision” was communicated to others?)

    After the meeting, Napoleon’s assistant went around to the other animals and said, “I trust that every animal appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labor upon himself. Do not imagine that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your own decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where would you be? (Sounds like Senator Patrick’s belief in local control. He says he believes in it, but the locals might make the wrong decision so he has to protect us from ourselves)

    There’s a reason this book is still read in schools today. When government wants it’s power to grow at the expense of its citizens, the citizens push back. The book may have dealt with the events leading up to the Russian Revolution, but today it speaks to Czar Patrick’s desire to take over our schools.

    WOW! I researched Animal Farm and find Mr. Ratliff’s comparison of the story to Senator Patrick a real stretch. The story more aptly relates to the ESC/CSCOPE directors as well as Texas School Administrators following the revolutionary song of the Texas Administration of School Administrators (TASA) “We Will Transform Texas Education.”  Senator’s Patrick as well as many legislatures are not familiar with the ins and outs of Texas Education. They know little about the 20 Texas Education Service Centers (ESCs) who have been allowed to govern themselves, thus created an illegal tax-free company called TESCCC, inc. By all descriptions this was a shell company–or it is how I would describe a shell company–a company that exists in name only—a company with no employees, no physical location, no reported money trail. In fact, Senator Patrick should have given some thought to compromising with this illegal company. But then, the State Board of Education was part of the first compromise with the illegal TESCCC,inc CSCOPE company. As vice-chair of the SBOE, why didn’t Thomas Ratliff make an effort to stop this. Instead, Mr. Ratliff so promotes the online CSCOPE instruction material that he is now trying to get the SBOE to review the CSCOPE lessons so they can be approved for use in our Texas Schools. Mr. Ratliff, the 20 ESCs are at fault for creating lessons that are so controversial that people from around the world are watching what you and other Texas Education Leaders do about the lessons. The 20 ESCs never had the CSCOPE instruction material copy edited for correctness of content or  copy edited for vertical alignment. If there was ever to be any review and revisions it should have been at the expense of the ESC/CSCOPE directors. Mr. Ratliff, in you lifetime, have you ever seen School Administrators defend any book, or curriculum like they are doing with CSCOPE? Have you ever known state board of education members adamantly defend lessons that have been shown to have errors?  Have you observed an education product created, produced, and sold to Texas public schools that parents were not allowed to view the lesson contents until Senator Patrick required it? Even then, the ESC/CSCOPE directors did not provide parents access to the CSCOPE lessons.

    Yes, the CSCOPE materials can be sold to Texas School districts at a low price in comparison to other online K-12 instruction materials. This is because the State of Texas is paying all the overhead bills. State employees provide CSCOPE workshops, State funding provides the building where the “CSCOPE directors” [also functioning as the directors of the 20 ESCs] work. As a lobbyists for Microsoft, I can understand why you support an online curriculum. But, Mr. Ratliff, as a member of the State Board of Education you have a duty to make decisions based on what is best for the education of Texas students. I can show you CSCOPE lessons are incorrect and are not aligned with the TEKS. This is a problem that you as a member of the SBOE seem not to have considered.

    We are wasting our time volleying comments back and forth about CSCOPE. There can be no compromise with the ESC/CSCOPE group because they have not been honest with the Texas School Districts. In fact, this group has taken more than $100 Million dollars in grant money and instead of developing and presenting FREE materials for Texas Educators, they promoted and sold CSCOPE. For information see Free Replacement For CSCOPE. 

    Instead of encouraging the school districts in your district to force teachers to teach with CSCOPE lessons–this put the responsibility on the teachers when kids fail STAAAR— insist that the ESC in your district provide the TEKS materials that the ESCs were paid millions to create.


    Yes, Senator Patrick and Lt. Governor Dewhurst have joined the fight against CSCOPE  late, but better late than never.


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  1. Sonja Williams says:

    Ms. VanCleave,

    This information from above is incorrect:

    “In fact, this group has taken more than $100 Million dollars in grant money and instead of developing and presenting FREE materials for Texas Educators, they promoted and sold CSCOPE.”

    I have scads of information developed and presented by the ESC. I attended many workshops on the new ELA (English/Language Arts) TEKS and CScope and was taught – by the ESC Consultants – how to use the curriculum and management tool to fit my students’ needs. It was all free to me as a teacher. Please stop saying these workshops did not happen and these materials don’t exist because it is incorrect.

    Thank you.

    • Janice VanCleave says:

      The materials do exist–they were presented. I have copies of all of them.
      1. The content of the science materials is poor in comparison to the CSCOPE science transition materials.
      The number of teachers that attended the workshops was low because the ESCs did not properly promote them. For $100 Million dollars, you did not get what you as an educator deserved.
      The ELAR materials were not created by the ESCs, they paid an outside group. Also, Donna Garner assisted with the ELAR TEKS. I will definitely revise my article. But hold firm that
      you did not get as much as you deserve and you did not get $25 Million dollars worth of workshops.

  2. Rudy Gonzales says:

    Texas schools and educators were short-changed by the legislature and are now being led down the long path to lowering the standards for Texas’ school children. All this bu the same TEA-Republican factions who are in-fighting over the minds of the children. All being pushed by the same people who nationally back: shutting down the Government, not raise the debt ceiling, Voter and voting restrictions, re-defining rape, closing of Planned Parenthood and forced intrusive medical examinations. Immigrant off-spring should remember who is obstructing immigration reform and forcing separation of families. TEA-party fanatics will come out in force to vote in their candidates and YOU will have to do the same. Do not rely on others! Get involved, get registered and stand your ground when voting! V.O.T.E.(Vote Out The Encumberance) Repeat this procedure every voting cycle, in every local race, in every city, in every county, of this state and every national election. Now we need to remove the obstacles – TEA party and Republicans standing in the way. Sweep the state clean in 2014!

  3. jb self says:

    My question, at this point, is, does Sen. Patrick realize he was fooled, and, will he do anything bout it?
    My message to Sen. Patrick is, if he does not fix the problem, he is part of the problem.

    • Yes, Senator Patrick now realizes that he was “duped” by the very devious CSCOPE vendor (The 20 ESCs). Yes, he is trying to do something about it.