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CHARTER SCHOOL BILL, CSCOPE, PARENT ACCESS

May 25, 2013 by

CSCOPE-ORCSCAM-186x137[5.24.13 – I just called a Texas Senator’s office, and I was told that the legislature is open today and all weekend.  Please send an e-mail and then CALL the legislators to draw attention to your concerns.  – Donna Garner]

 

 

5.22.13 – SBOE Member Donna Bahorich –  Charter School Bill, CSCOPE, Parent Access

 

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Excerpts from this newsletter:

 

Senate Bill 2 – The Charter School Bill

 

The legislative session is winding down and sine die (adjournment) is just around the corner set for Monday, May 27th.

The House version of SB 2 keeps the State Board of Education (SBOE) as the authority charged with approving open-enrollment charter schools, while the Commissioner of Education continues as the authority with added power concerning renewals and revocations of charters. The Senate version gives all the authority for approvals, renewals and revocations to the Commissioner.

The difference between the Commissioner approving charters and the SBOE approving charters is that, with the SBOE, every step in the approval process is a public process. The SBOE provides a public forum for charter applicant interviews, public testimony for or against proposed charters, and discussions resulting in final approvals. This is not the case with a Commissioner approval process. No public forums are required. If you believe as I do in the importance of maintaining a public process for the granting of new charters that will be awarded millions of dollars and the responsibility for educating thousands of students, please contact the senators below TODAY to let them know you support keeping the SBOE in charge of charter approvals.

The Senate Conference Committee will work out the differences with the House in the next couple of days. The House and Senate conference committee members are Representatives Aycock, Villarreal, Farney, Otto, and Harless; Senators Patrick, Campbell, Lucio, Taylor, and West.

Contact information for Texas House members:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Members/Members.aspx?Chamber=H

Contact information for Texas Senate members:  http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Members/Members.aspx?Chamber=S

 

CSCOPE

In all the speeches I have given over the last several months, the issue of CSCOPE always comes up. CSCOPE is a curriculum management system designed by a collaboration of the Regional Education Service Centers to better enable teachers to cover all the curriculum standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS) required for each subject and grade.

 

CSCOPE is used by mostly small and medium sized school districts that do not have the funding to internally house a curriculum team to put lessons together. CSCOPE is currently used by 875 districts educating about 34% of public school students in Texas.

At a press conference held on Monday in Austin, the announcement was made by Senator Dan Patrick and confirmed by Dr. Kyle Wargo, serving on the CSCOPE Board, that CSCOPE will no longer include lesson plans in its curriculum management system. The curriculum management calendar and all other features will remain, just not the lessons themselves. I understand testing may still be offered.

 

My hope, for those smaller districts who have been relying on CSCOPE for lesson plan content, is that they will be able to get lesson plan support through Project Share, provided by the Texas Education Agency, or through a collaboration with a larger school district.

 

Earlier this year, based on numerous constituent concerns regarding the content of lessons, the State Board of Education (SBOE) had been asked by several state senators to review social studies lessons over the summer. With the announcement yesterday, our work will no longer be required.

 

I want to thank my colleagues, CSCOPE Ad Hoc Chair Marty Rowley as well as Ad Hoc members Pat Hardy, Mavis Knight and Tom Maynard for the work they had already put into the process. I also want to thank all the volunteers from across the state who stepped up to help the SBOE review CSCOPE lesson plans.

 

What Can We Learn from CSCOPE?

Transparency regarding instructional materials used in Texas public schools is essential and required by law.

According to the Texas Education Code 26.006, parents are “entitled to review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent’s child; and review each test administered to the parent’s child after the test is administered.

The issue with CSCOPE essentially began because the instructional materials were very difficult to review by parents. Parents are very interested in and are entitled to see what their children are being taught at school. A parent only had access to CSCOPE curriculum content by actually sitting beside a teacher who could show the instructional materials.

 

Teachers using CSCOPE were also bound by overly-punitive contract language forbidding the easy sharing of instructional materials in CSCOPE. This type of hurdle-hopping transparency does not meet the definition the public has in mind. To their credit, the CSCOPE Collaborative had recently taken steps to change their system to allow much more appropriate public access to their instructional materials by adding a “public portal” to view content used in classrooms.

 

Looking at the Broader Issue

When a parent has a textbook in hand, he or she can read the chapters, review the quizzes at the end of the chapter and know what is in the foundational materials used to teach his or her children. However, with schools increasingly looking to online providers for their instructional materials, will the public have meaningful access for reviewing instructional materials used in the classroom? This is the essential question as we head more and more into the brave new world of instructional materials delivered solely by computer, iPads, etc. What access to instructional materials will parents have?

In my previous newsletter, I stated my strong belief that every online program providing instructional content should also provide a public portal where parents can see for themselves the teaching material used. The troubles encountered with CSCOPE have only served to illustrate the importance of providing transparency and access to the instructional materials used in our schools.

I am honored to serve you,

Donna Bahorich

Member of Texas State Board of Education

District 6

 

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