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Bill Neinast


CSCOPE, or at least part of it, is dead.  The hymns of sorrow are almost as loud as the shouts of joy at the funeral.

In recent weeks, CSCOPE was a frequent subject of the local media.  Most of the discussion was on the content of the lesson plans in the program.  Both pros and cons were covered, but the cons predominated.

None of the arguments, however, addressed a basic problem with CSCOPE.  Why was CSCOPE even developed?

This would be a darling of those who believe the government is the answer for every question and problem.  Conversely, it is anathema to those who believe in local control and self sufficiency.

Those who believe that small, local governments are the most responsive to local  needs and desires are considered mossback conservatives. 

Consider this, however, in the context of what is happening in public education.  The crux of the arguments over CSCOPE is about what is in the lesson plans developed under that system.  Ostensibly, those plans were written in secret by individuals of unknown qualifications who were hired by a nonprofit organization.

In school districts that subscribe, the plans are to be the sine qua non for all subjects and teachers for which there is a plan.  One report was that Brenham ISD teachers of subjects for which there are plans must have the appropriate plan book on their desks at all times.

If this is an accurate summary of CSCOPE, the question should not be what but why.   Why is an anonymous group in some far away place dictating what and how a subject is taught in your backyard?

This, then, is the conservative perspective on that argument.

My mother was a teacher in the Greenvine school almost a century ago.  At the same time, one of her cousins was a teacher in the Gay Hill school and another taught at the Charlesville school.  They may have had Teachers Certificates, if such were required then, but none had a college degree.  

Teachers in the so called one room school houses of those days were teachers, superintendents, and principals rolled into one.  They were under the supervision of the County School Superintendent, an office that no longer exists, and possibly under a volunteer “school board.”  Locally, both the concept and the single school buildings vanished long ago.

I came along a little later.  My grade school was two story, with a separate room for each of the seven grades. As a hint as to when it was built, it had no running water or toilet facilities in the building. 

There was also a teacher for each room or grade and a local superintendent.  The superintendent’s staff was one secretary.  With that overloaded bureaucracy he supervised three local school systems, White, Black, and Mexican, and, in addition, taught a high school government class.

That down home school system produced the Greatest Generation with leaders like Eisenhower, Marshall, Admiral Nimitz from the little Texas hamlet of Fredericksburg, and scientists like Robert Oppenheimer who developed the atom bomb.

In some areas, high school students were exempt from taking final exams in courses in which they had an average “A.” I, for example, did not take a single final exam during my junior and senior years of high school.

That type of education without any type of overloaded supervision and testing from either the state or national levels obviously stunted my educational growth.  That poor foundation limited me to two undergraduate and one post graduate degrees. What might be hanging on my walls if I had received an education dictated and tested from Austin and Washington?

One other element of the old school that seems to be missing today is discipline.

In earlier days, there was a respect for authority, including teachers, and discipline.  Teachers spent all their time in the classroom teaching with almost no interruptions for control and discipline.  Their words were law from which no student dared to deviate.

The reported constant interruptions in schools of today for texting, arguing, disrespecting the teachers and other students, and generally disrupting class can be laid directly at the feet of parents and the ACLU who say, “Don’t you dare touch darling Johnny.  You will be sued for child abuse, if you do.”

So here’s the perspective.

Knowing whether students were being prepared for life was not a problem before the state and national governments began directing curriculum, texts, and tests.  Proof of that is the abbreviated list of great minds developed in the first half of the last century that was mentioned above.

Why, then, are bureaucrats in far away cities needed to tell local teachers what to teach, what books to use, how to teach from those books, and how to test for learning?

Instead of worrying about what is in CSCOPE lesson plans, the concern should be for abolishing both the Texas and Federal Education Agencies.  Use the money allocated for the salaries for those bureaucrats to pay for accredited teachers who can develop their own lesson plans.