CSCOPE: Change in Strategy
By Donna Garner
I sent out an article yesterday and indicated that just because the judge had halted the CSCOPE restraining order filed by the LLano ISD parents/grandparents/citizens, “Nothing has changed with this ruling: CSCOPE is still a bad ‘brand’ and because of its many deficiencies that caused the Texas Legislature to vote against it, local school districts are foolish to keep using any part of CSCOPE.” (8.18.13 – “Judge Halts CSCOPE on Basis of Procedural Issues” )
To be very honest, however, one thing actually has changed; and that is the strategy that concerned parents/grandparents/citizens should use in future litigation now that they have learned the way the court thinks. The focus of future lawsuits needs to be on parental access.
Teachers and people in the public who have been involved with CSCOPE and who also know Texas law believe that the legal grounds for lawsuits from parent groups should focus on the issue of access to students’ instructional materials.
These knowledgeable people believe that Texas courts can and will rule on the basis of statute established in the Texas Education Code (TEC) which states that the school district must “allow the student to take home any instructional materials used by the student…The parent must be allowed to review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent’s child…A school district shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents.” (Texas Education Code, Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle E. Students and Parents, Chapter 26. Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Sec. 26.006. Access to Teaching Materials —http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.26.htm#26.004 )
Definition of “instructional materials” – “The term includes a book, supplementary materials, a combination of a book, workbook, and supplementary materials, computer software, magnetic media, DVD, CD-ROM, computer courseware, on-line services, or an electronic medium, or other means of conveying information to the student or otherwise contributing to the learning process through electronic means, including open-source instructional material. (Texas Education Code, Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle F. Curriculum, Programs, and Services, Chapter 31. Instructional Materials, Subchapter A. General Provisions, Sec. 31.002, Definitions, Instructional Material —
As described by an experienced Texas teacher:
Hypothetically, if a teacher ‘does’ a CSCOPE lesson, the parent will never be able to see it. It will be played out in the classroom. The only thing that will come home is a graphic organizer with a bunch of empty boxes — no explanation at the top, no content to review…
CSCOPE doesn’t provide the content — meaning the informational text for the student. That is why it is so dangerous. It provides a script for the teacher, which the parent will never see. The teacher is left to scramble for material all over the internet.
When dangerous links in the CSCOPE lessons were made public by concerned citizens, the TESCCC (corporate owner of CSCOPE) pulled those links. This is the big danger of CSCOPE and other online materials. Links and other content can be taken out or put back in ‘at the click of a mouse’ without parental knowledge.
Another expert on CSCOPE has stated:
We also need to keep going back to the fact that the TESCCC was never forced to provide actual access for parents – a requirement of the Texas Education Code. TESCCC skirted by on pledges to create a new website with total access, which turned out to be a sham since parents did not have genuine access to the lessons being used in CLASSROOMS, only samples (as was the case with the original CSCOPE domain)…
No access was ever truly granted. Therefore, the question of access is still a valid one for the courts and should be the primary focus of legal efforts.
For success in court, parents need to seek injunctive relief on the basis of being denied access to the lessons used by both the District and TESCCC. Injury on the basis of ACCESS will give all parents standing. And standing, is what judges care about.
Going forward, school districts that continue to use CSCOPE will find themselves faced with lawsuits based upon parental access; and that argument grounded upon TEC statute is sure to stand in a court of law.