Texas State School Board Member Thomas Ratliff, who is a Republican, has answered the challenge from Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, agreeing to debate alleged problems with CSCOPE lesson plans.
CSCOPE is an online curriculum provider developed by the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative that was providing lesson plan resources for 877 school districts in Texas.
The service was canceled by the TESCCC due to political pressure from conservative groups: Political pressure too much for CSCOPE, cancels services in Texas.
Ratliff said he hopes the debate is not a setup to benefit Patrick’s campaign for lieutenant governor.
"I’m hoping for a thoughtful policy discussion that’s not just a bunch of sound bites meant to help his political campaign or to help bolster his conservative credentials with the Tea Party," Ratliff said.
Patrick has led the charge against CSCOPE, alleging that the curriculum resource provided schools with anti-American lesson plans.
Ratliff said there is nothing in the CSCOPE lesson plans that resembles those allegations.
"There may be some issues out there, but there’s nothing like what he's trying to make it into and there’s certainly no anti-American, Pro-Islamic, Pro-Marxist, Pro-Communistic bias in that curriculum," he said.
Ratliff is proposing to have the superintendent of a CSCOPE school be a third member of the panel to help provide some first-hand examples and authority on using the system.
"What the irony is, and what I hope to point out in this debate, is some of the things that he (Patrick) is criticizing CSCOPE for are things that they are required to do either by state law or state board of education rule through our adoption of the standards. And I don’t think the senator has any idea -- he’s only interested in scoring political points," Ratliff said.
The debate between Ratliff and Patrick is scheduled for Aug.24 in Tyler, Texas.
Editor's Note: There has been some confusion about who was first to issue the challenge (see question in comments). Shortly after the regular session ended, Patrick posted on Facebook that he would debate any defenders of CSCOPE. Several weeks later, Ratliff caught wind of the statement and contacted Patrick's office to accept the offer, alerting the media of his move. Just this week, Patrick accepted the chance to debate and notified Ratliff of his open dates.