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Texas school officials: state curriculum had nothing to do with controversial 9/11 quiz

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The quiz question to fifth graders at Flour Bluff Intermediate School in Corpus Christi was simple enough: “Why might the United States be a target for terrorism?” The multiple choice answers got a little complicated:

a. Other people just don’t like America.

b. Decisions we made in the United States have had negative effects on people elsewhere.

c. Terrorists hate everyone.

d. None of the above.

“When did it become okay to teach our children that the United States is to blame for the September 11th terrorist attacks?” asks Kara Sands, whose son took the quiz following a classroom video on 9/11.

After watching the presentation herself, Mrs. Sands reports she was “shocked by it’s content,” which she says blames the attacks on America. The mother met with school officials, who said they would review the material, though one administrator was candid. She agreed with the premise that the U.S. was to blame.

“Folks, we have a serious problem. This is nothing more than good old-fashioned propaganda and there are people at our kid’s school who think this is perfectly fine. Well, I don’t and if you don’t either please take action,” Mrs. Sands advised other parents on her Facebook page, also posting a copy of the quiz.

At the time, Flour Bluff school officials told local CBS affiliate KRIS-TV that Mrs. Sands was the only parent to complain about the test. Nonetheless, more than 13,000 people have shared the quiz image.

But the situation revealed the potential for revisionist or politicized lesson plans, and a highly sensitized environment.

“Unsurprisingly, the stunningly controversial lesson plan is part of the CSCOPE curriculum system that has come under fire recently,” says Jason Howerton, a reporter for Dallas-based The Blaze.

“The same system includes lessons asking students to design a flag for a ‘new socialist nation’ and dubs the Boston Tea Party as an ‘act of terrorism,’” he adds.

But Texas educational officials are eager to clarify the circumstances regarding the aforementioned CSCOPE, a statewide lesson planning system.

The report “incorrectly” attributes the quiz to CSCOPE,” says Mason Moses, public information officer for the Texas Education Service Centers, the group that develops CSCOPE.

“The quiz has been claimed by a company called Safari Montage, which has no affiliation whatsoever with CSCOPE,” Mr Moses states.

Meanwhile, the Flour Bluff Independent School District has also issued point-by-point information to further define the situation. These are posted here, directly as received from the school district.

On the video itself:

In September, 2012, for Celebrate Freedom Week, a 911 video from Safari Montage was shown in an Intermediate school classroom.The video and accompanying quiz were not from CSCOPE. They were from Safari Montage, a company that is not associated with CSCOPE.

In March, 2013, a concern was voiced about item #3 on the quiz, indicating the question and answer might be interpreted as blaming the U.S. for 911.The concern was heard and addressed immediately by the teacher and the principal of the campus.

The campus principal contacted Safari Montage and communicated the concern about the way item #3 was worded and indicated the quiz would be modified in response to the concern.

Safari Montage provided a statement regarding the intent of the video and apologized in writing the same day for any misconceptions regarding the purpose of the video and accompanying quiz, stating it was not their intent to convey that the U.S. was to blame for the events of 911.

In fact, the video was generated to convey a patriotic message, explaining the events of 911 and why we memorialize it

The letter from Safari Montage was shared with the concerned party the same day, prior to information being shared on Facebook, local radio broadcasts and other broadcast media.

Copies of the video are available to be viewed by parents at the Public Information Office.

And on the role of CSCOPE:

CSCOPE curriculum is built upon the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (TCCRS) required for each course. These are the course objectives that are approved by the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education.

CSCOPE is designed like a teacher’s manual. It is a framework or a road map to guide teachers in teaching the course objectives at the level of difficulty required, so that all of the course objectives are taught in a logical order. It also assists the teacher in knowing what the students have been taught in prior grade levels and how to connect with future grade levels.

CSCOPE has model lessons. Teachers meet regularly to discuss the curriculum, including the model lessons, and together they choose whether to use the lessons as they are, modify them or to create other lessons that meet the level of difficulty required in the course objectives.

Flour Bluff ISD has been using CSCOPE since 2006-2007 and several of our teachers were involved in writ- ing the curriculum.

Over 70 percent of school districts in the state of Texas use CSCOPE and help participate in writing and reviewing the curriculum, thereby combining resources to keep the curriculum current with the required course objectives. Teachers and other educators review CSCOPE regularly and give feedback to continually improve the curriculum and quality of instruction and to update for changes to the course objectives made by the State Board of Education and Texas Education Agency.

Teachers are encouraged to utilize many instructional materials along with the CSCOPE curriculum, such as textbooks, workbooks, databases, research sites, software and teacher-made materials.

FBISD has voiced the concern that CSCOPE does need to be more readily accessible to parents and strategies are currently underway to open up all lessons to parents and the public. Lessons are expected to be available starting in April through an open website.

All educators who use CSCOPE do sign an online agreement indicating they may not violate copyright laws and regulations regarding sharing materials from CSCOPE. Educators do retain their ability to discuss the curriculum. Teachers and other educators are allowed to share lessons with parents by discussing the lessons,posting information about the lessons on their webpages, reproducing the student activities, etc.

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