SBOE Vice Chair Ratliff Gets Testy over CSCOPE
Looks like SBOE (State Board of Education) Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff is a little testy today. Interesting isn’t it? Please see the press release below that came out today by Ratliff. Although, before I get to that please let me connect a few dots for you with the Education Bureaucracy in Texas. The Ratliffs are the Education Clan of Texas.
Listen to this audio and then keep reading….
Let me introduce you to Daddy Ratliff – Ex-Texas Senator Bill Ratliff
Bill along with Ex-Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Moses founded the “Raise Your Hand” non-profit back in 2007 which raised eyebrows because they had a history in Education that many will not forget. Below are excerpts from Donna Garner’s 2007 article “Raise Your Hand for a Hand Out”
Ratliff and Moses are continuing to swill from the education trough by forming a new organization called Raise Your Hand to pressure the people for more tax dollars for Texas’ public schools. Have these two gentlemen any credibility on the subject?
William Murchison said it best in the 2.16.07 Lone Star Report, “…keep a country mile away from Raise Your Hand, and from Bill Ratliff, and from Mike Moses, whose solution for dealing with a sinking boat is to pour some more water in the gunwales.”
Before we citizens put our trust in Raise Your Hand, let’s do a quick study of its leaders, Ratliff and Moses.
RATLIFF: ROBIN HOOD, LOSS OF LOCAL CONTROL BY TEACHERS
Not only did Ratliff author the failed and oft-maligned Robin Hood Plan, but he also drafted SB 1 in 1995 which stripped local teachers of control over what they taught.
RATLIFF: LOSS OF CONTROL BY LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS
As the author of SB 1, Ratliff is also responsible for taking the authority away from elected local school boards and placing that power into the hands of unelected superintendents.
No longer do locally elected school board members have any real control over the all-important issues of personnel hiring and district curriculum decisions.
Local school board members’ duties have basically been reduced to (1) hiring and firing the superintendent, (2) buying and selling property, and (3) setting board policy (e.g., those items which involve board members themselves – elections, vacancies on the board, travel and reimbursement policies, etc.).
RATLIFF: LOSS OF CONTROL BY ELECTED SBOE
At the state level, Ratliff tried for years to replace the elected State Board of Education (SBOE) with an appointed one. Appointed boards really do not care what voters want. They will do the will of whoever appoints them and of the lobbyists who orchestrate from a distance.
Ratliff’s SB 1 reduced the authority of the elected SBOE and enhanced the power of the unelected Texas Commissioner of Education who at the time was Ratliff’s joined-at-the-hip ally, Mike Moses.
Ratliff always pretended that the SBOE had lost control over textbook content; and until Attorney General Greg Abbott’s 2006 opinion, the SBOE was shut out of fulfilling its lawful responsibilities. For eleven years the Board labored under Ratliff’s false interpretation; and during that time, numerous inferior textbooks were placed in front of our Texas students.
Because of Ratliff’s influence on SB 1, elected SBOE members cannot even elect their own chairperson; the Governor appoints one.
RATLIFF: TAXPAYER-ENRICHED OPPORTUNIST
Ratliff is a registered lobbyist (http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/dfs/loblists.htm) and has made large sums of money from a number of clients including the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). Having retired from the Texas Senate in 2003, he began representing TASB on May 10, 2004. That year he received up to $99,999.99 from TASB, and again in 2005, and 2006.
We taxpayers paid Ratliff’s rich lobbying fees because the membership dues that education entities pay to join TASB come from our taxpayers’ dollars.
Because the TASB dues come from public funds, we taxpayers are actually paying TASB to lobby Legislators for more school funding so that our taxes will increase. We are paying to lobby ourselves!
It just so happens that Bennett Ratliff the youngest brother in the Ratliff clan is a Freshman State Representative that the infamous Speaker of the House Joe Straus appointed to the Education Committee. Wow isn’t that a coincidence. Oh by the way the chair of the House Ed. Comm., Rep. Jimmy Don Aycock, has a daughter who is a lobbyist for Raise Your Hand as well. No wonder Senator Dan Patrick believed there was no way that Rep. Steve Toth’s bill which gave the SBOE over-site of CSCOPE would ever pass in the house. Thank goodness for Texas Mom Kara Sands who worked the bill through and got it passed with tenacity and conviction.
THE RATLIFF CLAN AND THEIR COHORTS
“Unfortunately, the Ratliff family (Bill, Thomas, Bennett, Shannon) are heavily vested in Raise Your Hand and in other political entities that have managed to influence our Texas Legislators, particularly during this 83rd Session.”
So let’s get to Thomas Ratliff and why he may be a little testy. You see Thomas Ratliff; Bill’s son -you know the one who was ruled by the Attorney General to be on the State Board of Education illegally because he is a paid lobbyist for Microsoft, yea that one. He had a press release that came out today… see below.
He is not very happy that CSCOPE has been brought under the microscope and lessons have been pulled. Connect this dot – The RATLIFF’S ARE TIED TO BILL GATES AND MICROSOFT
You know the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is the lead funder for the transformation of Education in America called Common Core. It has been reported that “a Gates Foundation-funded project is storing an unprecedented amount of personal information about millions of students in a $100 million database that cannot guarantee complete security.”
Even in Texas a state that rejected Common Core just passed HB2103. This bill is sitting on Gov. Perry’s desk for his signature. HB2103 sets up three P20 education research centers that in the name of education research have access to private data on both students and teachers. Please listen to this short audio explaining it. https://soundcloud.com/alice-
CSCOPE in Texas was the testing ground for the platform that is to be used in other states.
From Texas Mom Colleen Vera’s article here are Three examples from their business models:
- CSCOPE uses public funds to run a private non-profit corporation to hide its operations from the public
- CSCOPE started as a simple service to local school districts and spread to over 800 districts statewide with plans of expanding out of state.
- The legality of CSCOPE’s actions are highly suspect, access local tax dollars to give to a private non-profit corporation instead of distributing the funds directly to the ISDs as dictated by Texas Education Code 18.14.
So now the light is being shined and the Ratliff Clan is not happy. After listening to the recommendation of SBOE Thomas Ratliff for districts to download CSCOPE lessons and then listening to Sen. Dan Patrick’s response linked here. I would suggest we all call Attorney General Greg Abbott and let him know it is time for the Ratcliff clan to be held responsible. Let’s start with removing Thomas Ratliff from the SBOE.
Greg Abbott Campaign Office: 512.477.2002
See Thomas Ratliff’s press release today – “WHAT A BULLY”
P.O. Box 232 State Board of Education tel: (903) 717-1190
Mt. Pleasant, TX 75456 Vice-Chairman www.thomasratliff.com
By Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chairman, Texas State Board of Education
Our country was founded on a “no-bullying” policy when our founders stood up to an English King who tried to bully us. Our military has helped other countries stand up to bullies throughout history. Even today, every Texas public school has a “no bullying” policy for protection of their students.
It’s time for parents, educators, and school board members to stand up to another bully. Senator Dan Patrick. To be fair, there are some things he has done to help public education. However, the majority of his efforts are designed to bully all of us to agree with him on things like vouchers, taxpayer savings grants, charter schools, and finally CSCOPE. Senator Patrick, who has no schools who use CSCOPE in his district, first set out to “improve” but ultimately destroyed a tool used by 80% of the school districts in Texas. I have referred to his effort as a “21st century book burning.” Let me explain.
In 1933, the German Student Association proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit”, which was to climax in a literary purge or “cleansing” by fire. The students described the “action” as a response to a worldwide “smear campaign” against Germany and an affirmation of “traditional German values.” In a symbolic act, the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and unwanted books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony.
Let’s fast-forward 80 years. Earlier this year, Senator Patrick held Senate hearings intended to grill supporters and creators of CSCOPE about a variety of issues. Some of the issues were legitimate, others contrived, exaggerated or taken out of context. He later went on Fox News to talk about the hearings and there was a banner below the Senator’s face that read, “Texas Lawmakers hold hearings into allegedly anti-American curriculum.” Then, just last month he held a press conference celebrating the “end of the CSCOPE era.” You could even call it a joyous ceremony. At the press conference, Senator Patrick even said, “What the legislature has learned…is we have to monitor what is being taught in our classrooms before the fact very closely with the same scrutiny as we did with our textbooks in the past.”
Back to 1933. The burning of the books represented a culmination of the persecution of those authors whose verbal or written opinions were opposed to a particular ideology. Many artists, writers and scientists were banned from working and publication. Their works could no longer be found in libraries or in the curricula of schools or universities. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Who were some of the persecuted authors? Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Earnest Hemingway and Upton Sinclair. Not exactly radicals.
I think a quote by Upton Sinclair clearly describes what is happening here. His quote, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his paycheck depends on his not understanding it.” If you substitute the word “paycheck” with “re-election” “conservative rating” or “number of Facebook friends,” you start to understand the motive behind Senator Patrick wanting to eliminate CSCOPE lessons.
Censorship is censorship, regardless of who’s calling the shots. This is a core belief of our country and we shouldn’t stand for it.
To be clear, of the 1,300 lessons in CSCOPE, there have only been a small handful of “controversial” examples talked about. Is CSCOPE perfect? No. I would doubt any curriculum of any school, public or private, is perfect. But, in an effort to get rid of the few lessons he didn’t like, Senator Patrick threatened the Regional Service Centers who created CSCOPE to pull it down or he would take his bullying to the next level.
But, apparently even after CSCOPE agreed to pull down the lessons, Senator Patrick still isn’t done. Now he is asking people to “report” school districts that want to continue to use CSCOPE lessons that they helped develop. He says he will “share” that information with the Attorney General for some sort of enforcement action I guess. This looks like the Social Studies police, or SS for short. What’s next? Will the state start barging in the door of a teacher’s room to destroy or confiscate her “controversial” lesson plans. Where does it stop?
Join me in standing up to this kind of bullying. Texas has more than 7,000 locally elected school board members who are responsible for overseeing their local INDEPENDENT school districts. We don’t need more state sanctioned censorship of our classrooms. We need the state to set reasonable standards and then get out of the way and let our local public schools do their job. We need tools like CSCOPE to be available as options for teachers to choose, not forced upon them or taken from them by a bully.
_____________________________________________________________ Is Common Core in Texas? You Bet it is.