It is quite unfortunate that the Texas Home School Coalition whom most Texas homeschoolers have placed their trust in for years is now setting up the future generation of Texas homeschoolers for state registration.
How are they doing this you might ask. Tim Lambert, president of THSC has been accepting funding (see below) from some key individuals that are pushing the “School Choice” agenda which is being pushed across the country. Lambert has been very vocal making videos, posting blogs, tweeting, and speaking at meetings across the state promoting the School Choice agenda even prior to legislation being filed. The words “School Choice” sound great but once you dig a little deeper it isn’t what it seems. This “School Choice” agenda is heavily funded by the likes of Mr. Common Core himself, Jeb Bush and globalist, Bill Gates.
I would like to remind you that we already have school choice in Texas. Parents have the ability to educate their children however they see fit and thankfully two of those choices are not regulated by the government, private and home school. This “school choice” agenda the state legislature is pushing will be funded by tax dollars through “Education Savings Accounts”, ESA’s. This is not a savings account where you save your own money to educating your children. This is another government subsidy program similar to “Obama Care”. Make no mistake with government subsidies comes regulations and state mandates. The School Choice agenda and the bills filed in Texas (SB 3 & HB 1335) will allow government subsidies into the private and homeschool arena. Once your child is in the system participating in the program they will be registered with the state and their information will be placed into the Texas Student Data System.
Once you a have government subsidies streaming into those markets with state mandates and regulations we will no longer have government free choices in educating our children. NOTE: if a homeschool parent takes these funds their child will be registered with the state and their data will be collected and placed into the Texas Student Data System. Tim Lambert fails to see or admit that.
Many of those that funded the 2016 THSC Gala are HUGE School Choice proponents.
NOTE: The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a key supporter and promoter of School Choice. The following three individuals sit on the TPPF board of directors.
Kyle Stallings gave THSC $27,000.00
Mayes Middleton gave THSC $30,000
Stacy Hock “Contribution amount unknown”
School Choice Debate, Tim Lambert, Peggy Venable (pro school choice) debate Alice Linahan and Ginger Russell (pro Liberty) on School Choice.
Tim Lambert fails to see state mandated testing and data collection as regulations on homeschooolers. He compares it to what Texas have to do now in order to open carry stating those are not regulationsor infringments on our 2nd ammendment rights.
Senator Don Huffines is also pushing School Choice.
I have NEVER witnessed so much political corruption and pay to play politics as I have with the School Choice agenda in Texas. This past September, I attended a School Choice Policy Summit hosted by the the not so TEXAS CONSERVATIVE COALITION. This meeting was nothing but a rally cry to promote the agenda of School Choice in Texas through the use of government subsidies titled “Education Savings Accounts” (ESA). Both School Choice and Education Savings Accounts are misnomers. We already have school choice in Texas and Education Savings Accounts (ESA) are government subsidies.
Speakers at the Pro School Choice Policy Summit were Lt Gov Dan Patrick, Senator Larry Taylor, Senator Bettencourt, State Representatives Rick Miller, Dennis Paul, Mike Schofield, and Dwayne Bohac. Stacy Hock with Texas for Educational Opportunity and Empower Texas Board member, Mayes Middleton their “money buddies” joined them. Middleton also sits on the board of Texas Public Policy Foundation. TPPF is also a huge advocate of School Choice. Texas Public Policy Foundation provided a brochure titled “The Archilles Heel of Texas. Improving College Eligibility Rates through K-12 Education Savings Accounts.”
I could not help but notice on the bottom of the brochure was Mr. Common Core (aka) Jeb Bush’s company “ExcelinEd” listed as one of the sponsors.
Below you can see a few who fund ExcelinEd. NOTE: BILL & MELINDA GATES
DAVID MAYES MIDDLETON
I listened for almost 2 hours to them pushing for School Choice. As the meeting wrapped up they did not welcome questions from those in the audience. I approached Senator Bettencourt afterwards and mentioned to him “I as a homeschool mother am concerned about this due to Government encroachment. Also I do not like the government in my business knowing what I am doing and where I am”. When I said this to him he walked away waving his mobile phone in the air stating “you need to be more concerned about this, (the mobile phone) which always knows where your are”. I was shocked at his response and lack of professionalism and disturbed that I had paid his company thousands over the years to protest my property taxes. NEVER AGAIN.
After further research into the money. I was shocked at the thousands of dollars that Stacy Hock and Mayes Middleton combined, have contributed to Texas politicians. I am also well aware today March 16, 2017 that Mayes makes regular visits to those legislators in Austin that he has funded to encourage them to support School Choice.
NOTE: The Montgomery County Tea Party held a debate on School Choice on March 6th. Scheduled to sit on the panel in favor of School Choice was Peggy Venable and Mayes Middleton, against school choice was Alice Linahan and myself (Ginger Russell). The tea party was notified one week prior my our modeator Dale Huls that Mayes would not make the debate and Tim Lambert from the Texas Homeschool Coalition would sit in his place. Here is the video from that debate.
**NOTE** Stacy Hock recently returned from New York, She has no education experience. Her experience in Technology. With that said she has made her way up into the helms of the Texas Education Establishment. Governor Abbott, Mr. Pro School Choice advocate, appointed Stacy Hock to the Texas Commission of Next Generation of Assessments and Accountability. Senator Larry Taylor (author of School Choice SB 3) also sits on this Commission. The Commission just turned over their final report in September asking Gov Abbott to align our State Standards/Accountability with the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
You may wonder how Stacy Hock can arrive out of nowhere and be placed in such a position to make recommendations regarding the education of Thousands of Texas Children. Look no further.
I will highlight our new Texas Representative Briscoe Cain. Mr. Money man, Mayes Middleton and Briscoe seem to be tied at the hip on the School Choice policy issue. Could it be due to his campaign funding? Mayes Middleton, other Empower Texans board members, and unfortunately school choice advocate Texas Home School Coalition have contributed thousands to Briscoe’s campaign. Despite the fact that this is another government program reigning in Texas Home Schoolers and placing all those under the umbrella of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, through campaign donations, Liberty Caucus member Briscoe Cain is part of School “Choice” elite special interest group.
Rep. Briscoe Cain Money Trail
Representative Bricoe went on Twitter calling Texas moms that are busy schooling their children and are genuinely concerned that School Choice legislation will affect their homeschooling freedom Kool-Aid Drinkers.
David “Mayes” Middleton funded Konni Burton’s campaign $5000.00.
To make matters worse School Choice advocate, Peggy Venable, posts the following photo on her Face Book page cheering their lavish dinner this week hosted by the not so Texas Conservative Coalition. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Bricoe is holding a sign up titled EDCHOICE. EDCHOICE is a national School Choice policy pusher aligned with none other than Jeb Bush and ExcelinEd funded by Bill Gates.
So when our Texas Representatives go to Austin claiming they are conservative. I believe it will be few are far between that truly represent their constituents and adhere to their values. Sad but true.
Oh the tangled web we weave.
Afterwards Peggy posted the following on facebook. Many responded including myself of our concerns and the money ties to this School Choice shenanigan. Peggy Venable deleted all the post and blocked many of us. Some of the things we posted are below.
It is with much regret that the Texas Home School Coalition is no longer looking out for Texas homeschoolers now or those in the future when it comes to government infringement. We value our liberty and freedom in educating our children as see fit.
If there funding is not listed you can go to the Texas Ethics Commission and see all their contribution and expenditures. It is just a more time consuming. If you will go to the link on the left titled Search Campaign Finance and Lobbying Reports. You will click Campaign Finance once again and do the simple form. Enter their last/first name and your good to go. If you have trouble navigating your way through their call their office. They have always been more than willing to help.
In the video below, Dr. Stan Harltzer is interviewed by Peggy Venable. Dr. Hartlzer received his Doctorate in Mathematics from The University of Texas and taught algebra in the Luling public school system among many others for over forty years. I have personally spoken with Dr. Hartlzer and he relayed to me his frustration with the CSCOPE method and lessons. He explained that the CSCOPE curriculum as it pertains to algebra, is like building a skyscraper but the first two floors are missing. The fundamental building blocks necessary to understand and then move on to higher algebraic equations are just not there. He lamented that his students, while perfectly capable of learning and excelling at algebra, were losing confidence in themselves and thought that they were incapable of learning the material. Dr. Hartlzer started tutoring the students with material not found in CSCOPE that included this crucial information and he said that the students were actually excited to learn that they weren’t incapable at all. He also said that their confidence level in themselves could be seen right away. One would think that Dr. Hartlzer would be rewarded and used as an example in the district for this major change that he was able to effect in his students. Instead he was written up for not staying on the CSCOPE timetable and staying in lock step with the regimented program. Multiple episodes of this lead Dr. Hartlzer’s to resign his position at the Luling ISD which also lead to his running for and winning a position on the school board. Please listen closely in the video below at 3:45 to 5:09 where Dr. Hartzler says the following. “I was taught in graduate school at The University of Texas in Austin that as a professional mathematics education person, I should leave the disadvantaged students to their disadvantages. That there are a certain number of jobs in our society that no one really wants to do and it will help us to find good people to do those unpleasant jobs if we can persuade them that they are incapable of doing anything else.” You might want to read and listen to that part more than once and let that settle in for a moment. Could CSCOPE, Project Based Learning, Tranformational Education, Common Core, etc. really be that evil? Would this system of “education” really want to take us back to the day when we hid education from certain genders or races of people to keep them in their place? I’ll let you be the judge but there is no escaping the fact that these changes in our educational methods and instructional materials are in fact dumbing down our students day after day. Examples are no spelling programs, no handwriting drills and on and on and on. This criticism of CSCOPE, cannot be easily ignored by claiming a bias held by us as has been attempted by various CSCOPE supporters in the past. Mathematics has no bias or political agenda and as such leaves little room for such claims.
Dr. Hartlzer’s perspective on CSCOPE in the video below should alert all parents.
Texas teachers have to anonymously alert us to what is happening in the Texas public school system. Below is an email sent to Donna Garner in reference to the CSCOPE English program.
8.21.13 – From a Texas Elementary Teacher – sent to Donna Garner
My district is a CSCOPE district and has been for several years. Today we had an elementary English teachers’ meeting with around 50 people in attendance. A visitor from the community attended. Evidently he is now teaching at a private school but had been a public school teacher previously.
During the discussion at the end of the session, the facilitator was asked by the visitor what spelling program we used. The facilitator said, “None. The district has no spelling program because the principals have said spelling instruction was not necessary.” The visitor said that spelling should simply be a means of testing how well the students were learning the English orthographic system (phonics). He said that the words that kids can spell are read fluently and that the best way to improve reading fluency was to teach spelling. Several of the teachers in the group agreed but said that their administrators had other ideas.
The visitor then went on to say that good, legible handwriting was a powerful tool for teaching kids to spell better. Everyone nodded. Then he asked, “What handwriting program do you use?” We replied, “None!” The visitor stated, “Well, I was just told by a previous facilitator that you have an embedded handwriting program in your Guided Reading program.” That brought a round of derisive laughter from the group. The visitor then mentioned that the kindergarten kids at his school all wrote fluent cursive and were able to write the entire alphabet from A to Z readily. We were amazed. The visitor continued on and mentioned that none of the kids coming to him from the public schools knew how to hold a pencil properly or write their letters correctly.
The visitor, seeing the amazed response from the rest of us, suggested that they need to get the Zaner-Bloser handwriting program which would solve all their problems. After the workshop was concluded, several of us teachers gathered around him as he showed us the Zaner-Bloser method for teaching fluent cursive. After a few minutes of instruction, several of us said we had learned more about how to teach cursive handwriting with him in less than 10 minutes than we had learned in all our years of teaching. We all indicated to him how unhappy we are with Guided Reading and the lack of handwriting and spelling instruction.
The visitor went on to say that when he was a public-school teacher, his second-grade, bilingual students wrote 3,500 words and 600 sentences in his phonics-based reading, cursive writing, and spelling program. We told him that we had no time to teach spelling and handwriting because we have to get kids ready for STAAR. He said that was backwards because kids need to know phonics, spelling, and handwriting to be able to score high on the STAAR. He said that with kids floating around from workstation to workstation all day long, there would be no time for direct instruction.
I have to admit that the visitor made so much sense, and now I know why out of 38 campuses in our district, not one of them received a Distinction in Reading/ELA on the STAAR/EOC tests. We had one only campus that received a Distinction in Math, and no campuses were awarded Top 25%.
Obtaining news, the Houston Chronicle is my last place to turn due to their leftist bent. My hats off to editor Linda Falkenberg on coverage of CSCOPE. Though I don’t agree with Ms. Falkenberg’s attempt to minimize concerns with the CSCOPE’s controversial content. I would like to say she did a fantastic job outlining the events that have led up to what has become a state controversy.
The real shocker among the claims of conservatives fighting something called “CSCOPE” isn’t that the state-produced lesson plans are allegedly pro-Marx and anti-Christ, or even that they’re trying to indoctrinate Texas children into Islam.
It’s that, when you get past the craziness, there are some good questions being asked.
It remains to be seen whether any of those questions will get answered this Saturday in Tyler when Houston state Sen. Dan Patrick debates State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff.
But the planned clash between the two Republicans – one a tea party darling running for lieutenant governor, the other an outspoken East Texas pragmatist who helped dismantle the Religious Right’s grip on the state education board – has elevated to center stage a little known controversy thus far followed only by online conspiracy theorists and political junkies.
At issue is a computer-based curriculum tool known as CSCOPE produced by Texas Regional Education Service Centers. Until recently, it was being used in some part by 70 percent of Texas school districts, many of them in rural areas that may not be able to afford their own curriculum writers.
Teachers, some of whom have been using the curriculum guide since 2006, have complained of errors, shallow skimming of concepts and, mostly, the instructions they’ve received from some local administrators not to deviate from scripted lesson plans.
But a retired teacher named Janice VanCleave takes the credit for bringing the other issues to light. VanCleave, who lives in Riesel, just east of Waco, and has written many science-related children’s books, said she was trying to tutor students in her local district in 2011 when she asked about the textbook. When the children said there was no textbook, VanCleave got suspicious.
Doors began shutting
When she tried to obtain information on the computer-based lesson plans, she was turned away by the local school district and then by the regional service centers that produced the curriculum. Similar attempts by parents and even State Board of Education members to gain access to the material were rejected. The state centers claimed propriety concerns, but grass-roots conservatives smelled a rat.
And, since nothing feeds conspiracy theories like secrecy, accusations of a government curriculum rife with a progressive, even anti-American bias spread like wildfire. The lessons began to trickle out, providing endless fodder for bloggers who spun webs of intrigue and claims of insidious indoctrination. Glenn Beck and Fox News seized on the story. Then came the politicians, Patrick and the incumbent whose job he’s seeking, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, took up the cause in their respective bids to out-conservative each other.
Tea Party terrorism
The panic grew, even as Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that parents should have access to curriculum. Bloggers took issue with social studies lessons that, in one case, asked students to consider whether, from the British perspective, the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act. (The fact that student had every right to say “heck, no!” didn’t seem to matter.) Another lesson asked students to design a socialist flag. Another that drew concern simply defined “Allah,” in short, as a monotheistic deity, otherwise known as the God of Abraham.
Not sure why this last one was such a big deal.
Lynn Mitchell, director of the religious studies program at the University of Houston, explained that “Allah” is simply Arabic for “God.” He pointed out that even Arabic-speaking Christians refer to God as “Allah.”
In May, Patrick announced that the state education service centers had agreed to no longer produce the curriculum and conservatives cheered. But the issue flared back up when critics realized that some districts rushing to prepare lessons for the coming school year were still using the curriculum.
There have been some good issues raised by critics. No teacher should be forced to follow a one-size-fits-all canned script in the classroom. No state-written curriculum should be hidden from parents. The CSCOPE finances should be studied, and perhaps, as Patrick suggested, more oversight is needed in developing such curriculum tools. Certainly, a better editor to weed out the errors.
But these points could have been made without the fear-mongering, without the apocalyptic rhetoric. Even Peggy Venable, director of the conservative, anti-tax group, Americans for Prosperity, who raised solid concerns recently in her op-ed against the curriculum, couldn’t resist the temptation to include the charges of “indoctrination.”
That kind of language scores with the local tea party activists. It gets you on Fox News. And it gets certain primary voters riled enough to show up at the polls. But it’s not constructive.
For her part, the woman who started all this, Janice VanCleave, seems to be a thoughtful woman who is genuinely passionate about children’s education. She’s right that if the curriculum isn’t thorough enough to provide a solid foundation in a historic event such as the Boston Tea Party, then asking whether that event could be construed as a terrorist act is a jarring proposition some kids would be ill-equipped to answer.
“If you don’t really understand why they were throwing the tea, then you can’t really have critical thinking about it,” she says.
It’s her opinion that the curriculum left students ill-informed about Boston. But that’s a concern that makes sense. That’s a debate we could have had without all the drama.
Why is CSCOPE being given the time and room to plot it’s next move? CSCOPE has broken trust with Texas parents and taxpayers in every possible way.
Intrepid parents and taxpayers like Donna Garner, Janice Van Cleave, Women on the Wall, and Americans for Prosperity-Texas are finding out just how bad the picture really is. Let us review.
CSCOPE got massive amounts of tax money to develop “time management” tools for teachers, even though a calendar and a pen still cost about $15 at Wal-Mart.
They were also tasked with creating a “professional development” tool to help teachers teach the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). This is the basic knowledge tested in the STAAR test.
What on Earth this “professional development tool” was ever supposed to be is anyone’s guess. The TEKS are the nuggets of knowledge kids need to know for the STAAR test, and they are on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website.
As it turns out, CSCOPE pretty much just cut-and-pasted the TEKS off of the TEA website and called this their “professional development tool”.
At some point they also began developing curriculum – embarrassingly sub-standard curriculum that was also peppered with anti-Americanism and anti-Christianism. This aspect of CSCOPE has gotten most of the headlines, and rightly so, but it is just one part of what is wrong with both CSCOPE and the regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) that have perpetrated CSCOPE on Texans.
This curriculum is what CSOPE is no longer allowed to use, curriculum that included burka-wearing day for young Texas girls, communist flag-making day for school kids, and other such activities.
It is inconceivable that a group that would do such things would be allowed continued access to Texas classrooms by our elected officials, but that is what is happening right now.
CSCOPE tried to keep anyone from finding any of this out by making school districts sign non-disclosure agreements, binding them to not showing anyone the “tool”. This is very weird, and it turns out to be illegal. Parents have the legal right to see what their kids are being taught.
Since these “tools” were bought and paid for by the Texas taxpayer, we expected to be done paying for them.
Not so. CSCOPE is now renting their glorified calendar and cut-and-pasted TEKS to school districts. They also hold seminars to teachpeople how to use these masterpieces of learning technology.
If you think this sounds like a scam, it’s because it does.
Best of all, the TEA has these time management tools downloadable on its website. The TEKS are there too, which is what the “professional development” tool is.
This all means that CSCOPE is 100% obsolete.
What about it’s origins?
“CSCOPE” is actually a product of a 501c3 non-profit corporation called TESCCC. The Board of TESCCC are the directors of these regional Education Service Centers (ESCs). The ESCs were given around $180 million in education grants to create these “tools”, and they contracted the work to TESCCC, who produced CSCOPE.
School districts are still paying rent for CSCOPE, and for absolutely no functional reason.
Some districts are pulling this continuing CSCOPE funding. Many are not.
Are parents and taxpayers powerless? No.
Parents and taxpayers can check to see if their ISD has pulled CSCOPE funding and use. If the Superintendant is protecting it, parents can organize to elect school board members who promise to hire a new Superintendant who will cut CSCOPE off.
When the CSCOPE controversy first hit, Sen. Patrick quickly emerged, saying he was pushing for more regulation of this obsolete, wasteful, anti-American, anti-Christian, and incompetent taxpayer leach.
“Regulate CSCOPE!” was not then a rallying cry that satisfied Texans. It still isn’t, despite Sen. Patrick’s recent press conference that failed to generate any sense of finality for the many Texas parents and taxpayers following this drama.
Instead of getting rid of this taxpayer parasite, the now-taskless-but-well-funded CSCOPE has been put under the State Board of Education’s purview.
The Attorney General is an elected official who has actually borne his teeth to CSCOPE, saying he will investigate them and kick them out of Texas if he finds illegality.
These days the executive branch is, hands-down, a better bet than the land-of-comically-low-expectations that is our legislative branch.
CSCOPE is among the most controversial topics in the Lone Star State. Surprisingly, many Texans have never heard of it.
CSCOPE is a curriculum management system that has been sold to more than 850 Texas public, private and charter schools. It was developed by a division of the Texas Education Agency, which went to great lengths to avoid public oversight over the process.
Directors of the agency’s regional Education Service Centers created a nonprofit shell organization called the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, which exists in name only, and made themselves directors of this organization, which served only to move CSCOPE development out of public view. Since then, the directors, whose salaries are taxpayer funded, have met and worked in secret, using the nonprofit agency as a shield against open records and open meetings.
CSCOPE is controversial by virtue of its veil of secrecy, its financial trail (or lack thereof) and its contentious lesson plans.
Teachers had been required to sign a form that prohibited them from discussing CSCOPE and from publicly criticizing the lesson plans. Parents have not been given access to the lesson plans. Even the elected State Board of Education chairman was not given access to the curriculum for six months.
Some curriculum specialists claim CSCOPE helps schools utilize Common Core Standards, a set of general education standards pushed by the Obama Administration and that Texas has soundly rejected. Common Core Standards take control away from local educators and increase costs without adding rigor or improving student outcomes.
The leadership of the 20 service centers has worked to avoid transparency and review of CSCOPE, and in doing so have betrayed the public trust.
Texas Senate Chairman Dan Patrick held a full-day hearing on CSCOPE early this year and issued a statement urging the service centers to open their meetings to the public, shut down the nonprofit collaborative and allow parents to see the lesson plans.
The latter is a requirement of the state that lesson plans be made available to parents, something the CSCOPE program failed to do in violation of the law.
Aside from the cloak and dagger tactics, CSCOPE is costly. It was developed using public money, yet the lesson plans are “rented” to the school districts per pupil, per year, eating up even more taxpayer dollars.
Texas taxpayers and educators across the country have been talking about CSCOPE for months. Now the light of public scrutiny is finally being shed on the operation and the lesson plans.
Thankfully, sound-minded lawmakers in the Legislature are working to end this sham. Sens. Patrick and Donna Campbell authored a bill that would provide public review for CSCOPE lesson plans, which passed the Senate 31-1, and a similar bill originated by Rep. Steve Toth was approved by the House Public Education Committee last week. Lawmakers should get this legislation passed to start protecting students and parents from an unaccountable, centralized teaching authority.
Education is big business in Texas. The Lone Star State has 10 percent of the nation’s students and spends over $54 billion a year on K-12 education. This call to action on CSCOPE has been spearheaded by parents and courageous teachers who were willing to risk their careers to bring to light problems they found in the curriculum, despite the money and power involved. These parents have exhibited their passion to protect their children and their education.
It is appropriate that this review process proceed and that the practices of the Education Service Centers be investigated. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has indicated he is doing so, and last week Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he would request an audit of their financial records.
Texans are no strangers to education battles. We are known for our “textbook wars” when the public debates educational approaches, ideologies and philosophies in textbooks. It is what citizens do when they care deeply about our kids’ education.
What is taught in today’s classrooms will shape our country and our economy tomorrow. That makes this controversy an important battle for our children’s education.