The Twisting of Robert Scott’s Statement

Nov 29, 2012 by

by Donna Garner


Today’s Dallas Morning News article entitled “Former Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott Sparked National Revolt Against High-Stakes Testing” is perversion in itself as it refers to Scott’s statement made in January 2012:

He [Robert Scott] called overemphasis on test results at the local level a ‘perversion’ of the system. And he said that the state’s reliance on those test results for more and more accountability measures was the ‘heart of the vampire.’

What Scott meant when he said testing had been “perverted” is that under the old TEKS and the TAKS tests, teachers taught totally to the TAKS tests because the standards themselves were so poorly written, generic, confusing, and written in grade clusters.  All that teachers had to direct their course curriculum was the released version of the TAKS tests; therefore, they put their old, useless TEKS in the bottom desk drawer and taught the TAKS tests as the curriculum.

Scott, rightfully so, was frustrated over this teach-to-the-test regime that took over the Texas public schools for more than ten years. However, he did not sit idly by; he took action.

What Robert Scott, former Texas Commissioner of Education, actually did was to support the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education to write all new curriculum standards (TEKS) starting in May 2008 – English/Language/Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Math – in that order.

The previous TEKS and the TAKS tests built upon them were terrible standards; and, hence, worthless TAKS tests were built upon them.

The new TEKS (and the STAAR/EOC’s built upon them) are a completely different construct:

The new TEKS are explicit (not generic like the old TEKS where everything “including the kitchen sink” could be taught such as whole language, invented spelling, extreme environmentalism, evolution as fact, anti-Americanism, no systematic instruction of phonemic awareness/phonics/grammar/usage/cursive writing, etc.). 

The new TEKS are specific for each grade level/each course so that both teachers and students have set goals to reach each year. A private business would not survive for six months without having goals set so that employees clearly know what they are expected to do.   


The new TEKS are fact-based, knowledge-based, and academic. 

The new TEKS can largely be tested objectively with right-or-wrong answers, and the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests by law have to be built upon these new TEKS. 

What Robert Scott DID NOT SAY was that he wanted to get rid of all high-stakes testing.  He has never said that nor does he support that now.

What HE DID SAY is that he wanted schools to be graded on more than just student performance on one high-stakes test.  While he was at the TEA, he led the staffers to begin to develop a new accountability system that would take into consideration additional factors besides the STAAR/EOC’s — such factors as how students performed in their extra-curricular activities, career/technology competitions, fine arts contests, and other indicators.

It was the Obama administration, the news media, and the education establishment that twisted and co-opted Robert Scott’s words to suit their own purposes.  Most important to them is that they do not want Texas public school students to move from the Type #2 to Type #1 philosophy of education.  If the  same type of Type #2 indoctrination can be kept in place, then all present and future generations of Texans will march in lockstep right into the waiting arms of liberalism, Socialism, and other anti-free-market belief systems.

If Type #2 can remain in place in our Texas public schools, then other “Obamas” will be assured of being elected for many years to come.

*Donna Garner’s terminology and definitions of the two types of education philosophies:

(1)  Type #1 Philosophy of Education: Knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level-specific content that is tested largely through objectively scored tests  — These standards are built from K through Grade 12 and are taught mostly through direct, systematic instruction. The new TEKS and STAAR/End-of-Course tests are Type #1.

Type #1 standards could be referred to as the traditional method – the method of teaching that people perhaps 50 years old and older experienced when they were in school.  This included the teaching of phonics, grammar, correct usage/spelling, cursive handwriting, classical literature, expository/persuasive/research writing, the four math functions taught to automaticity, fact-based and discreet courses in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Calculus, U. S. History, World History, Botany, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry.   

(2) Type #2 Philosophy of Education (adopted in July 1997 and reflected in the TEKS and TAKS) — Project-based, subjective (emphasize cognitive domain – beliefs, opinions, emotions), subjectively assessed based upon the value system of the evaluator — emphasize multiculturalism, political correctness,  environmental extremism, diversity, social justice agenda  — These standards are built backwards from Grade 12 down to K (similar to trying to build a house from the roof down) and are taught mostly using the constructivist (project-based) approach.

Type #2 can be seen in Obama’s social justice agenda (i.e., Common Core Standards) that includes an emphasis on subjectivity, feelings, emotions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, social engineering, globalism, evolution, sexual freedom/contraceptives instead of abstinence, environmental extremism, global warming, victimization, diversity, an acceptance of the normalcy of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender lifestyle, redistribution of wealth, a de-emphasis on — factual knowledge, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founding Fathers, and American exceptionalism.  

We as Texans must not allow the news media and its ilk to twist and manipulate us into their way of thinking.  The new Type #1 TEKS are what we want our Texas public school children to learn, and the new Type #1 STAAR/EOC’s will force teachers to dump their Type #2 units and move into the teaching of Type #1 curriculum.

To read today’s Dallas Morning News article, please go to:

Donna Garner

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