Under the standards for social studies the Texas State Board of Education promulgates, Texas high school kids must learn to read charts and extract information from them.
In the criticism of the small-school curriculum planning system, CSCOPE, conservative critics demonstrate both that they are not as smart as a Texas high school kid, OR they don’t know feces in economics.
Note the chart; it’s a fuzzy picture, but it shows an arrow indicating which economic systems have more government involvement, or control, or “interference” in Texas conservative talk; and note the comments:
So, in other words, the conservatives worry because a chart shows that socialism and communism have “more government control and planning,” and the conservatives come unglued. They read the chart incorrectly; generally conservatives can be counted on to favor less government control in economic matters, which this chart shows is a virtue of free market economics systems.
Let me repeat: They read the chart incorrectly.
Worse, there’s a guy who professes to teach economics in a California college who says he doesn’t teach this stuff.
What do they want, what does he teach? That communism offers more economic freedom from government regulation than free enterprise?
Clearly they didn’t bother to read the chart. These critics are the epitome of knee-jerk reactionaries: If there is a word about something they don’t like, they assume the entire piece is tainted and biased against them. If you said, “We say the Pledge of Allegiance every day as a defense against communism,” they’d claim you’re teaching communism.
BUT, this sort of criticism got Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Mars, to call for an investigation, a witch-hunt, of the group that works to provide curriculum helps especially to smaller districts who don’t have curriculum planning staffs; SBOE and the directors of the Regional Education Centers agreed. Directors of the Regional Education Centers have bent over backwards to be open about what goes into CSCOPE, and how each lesson and each unit, and each test is aligned with Texas standards, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
Yeah, I know: The chart could have been done differently. But this is EXACTLY the sort of stuff the Texas Education Agency favors on standardized tests students must pass to advance and graduate, to make sure students read the questions, and the charts.
Are you as smart as a Texas high school student? Then you’re smarter than the critics of CSCOPE, at least in this case.
Still, CSCOPE, in an well-intentioned effort to be open about the curriculum materials they provide, and whether there is any bias in them, released this statement on their support of free enterprise:
CSCOPE Response to Lesson Regarding Economic Systems
CSCOPE strongly believes in the greatness of the free enterprise system and how it has helped build our country into the envy of all other nations. Free markets are a critical part of our American way of life. It is important to note that the activity in question is in a high school course and not in a grade 6 lesson. This twenty-minute activity is part of a six-day lesson on various economic systems at the high school level that are state required teaching standards set forth by the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education requires students to learn the following economic systems in World History:
- WH.18: Economics. The student understands the historical origins of contemporary economic systems and the benefits of free enterprise in world history. The student is expected to:
- WH.18A: Identify the historical origins and characteristics of the free enterprise system, including the contributions of Adam Smith, especially the influence of his ideas found in The Wealth of Nations.
- WH.18B: Identify the historic origins and characteristics of communism, including the influences of Karl Marx.
- WH.18C: Identify the historical origins and characteristics of socialism.
Furthermore, the State Board of Education establishes student expectations that focus on social studies skills. For the World History unit referenced above, the following social studies skills are included:
- WH.30: Economics: The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:
- WH.30C: Interpret and create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information.
The goal of this activity is to address the content and skills standards that have been adopted by the State Board of Education, and it is absolutely not promoting a way of life contrary to what we value as Americans. In this activity, students examine four different flags, beginning with the US flag, and analyze the colors, the design, and the graphics as symbols of each country’s characteristics and economic systems. Students then design a flag to demonstrate their understanding of the characteristics of socialism, as the standard requires (WH.18C).
CSCOPE has a significant emphasis on the free enterprise system. The other economic systems are only addressed as required by State Board of Education. Additionally, every lesson and activity in our system is customizable. The teacher in the classroom is the final authority on whether or not the lesson should be customized for his or her students and community.
CSCOPE would also like to reassure parents and community members that there is a comparable activity in the lesson that focuses on free markets where students are asked to read about characteristics of free enterprise in The Wealth of Nations, complete an analysis chart, and discuss with their classmates the characteristics and benefits of the free enterprise system. In addition, in Texas History, World History, US History, and US Government courses, students are engaged extensively in studying the principles of the US free enterprise system and the role it plays in American society. Furthermore, Texas graduation requirements specify that students take an economics course, and this course focuses entirely on the American free market system.
CSCOPE staff takes great pride in helping educators teach the standards established by the State Board of Education. This dedicated staff works each day to ensure that teachers have the best resources available to help Texas school children succeed, and they continually focus on improving the system for the districts they serve. We are committed to helping every parent and community member better understand CSCOPE. Please contact CSCOPE through the http://www.cscope.us site if you have further questions or concerns.
The exercise with flag making is pretty lame, to me — with no note of irony that CSCOPE nor their critics would notice, it offers the grand opportunity to read all sorts of symbolism into the U.S. flag that was never intended by the flag’s designers, nor by any tradition. That’s a pro-free enterprise bias if it occurs, however, and not a pro-communist or socialist bias.
One may wonder if the references to Adam Smith and Wealth of Nations threw the critics; more than once I’ve been confronted by a yahoo at a meeting in Texas who argues that we in the U.S. don’t need any foreign influences in our laws or economy, like that “socialist” Adam Smith! (To be fair, he published in England . . .)
The charges from “Sharon” can’t help but remind you of that famous political smear campaign against then-U.S. Sen. Claude Pepper, of Florida, in which his opponent called him “Red” Pepper, and accused him of ::GASP!!:: matriculating while a student in college — and not just matriculating, but matriculating in public!
Yes, this is an attempted political smear of CSCOPE, Texas teachers, and Texas education.
P.S.: I’d love to have a copy of that chart in a readable form; if you have access to the chart, especially to information that indicates where it really comes from (it looks like CSCOPE, but it’s fuzzy here), please send me a copy. Thanks.
Comments from people and groups who appear not as smart as a Texas high school student:
And the original? Screen shot from Glenn Beck’s show: