Concerned parents and residents packed the Smith Middle School library on Thursday to learn more about the recently controversial CSCOPE curriculum alignment tool.
Attendees came armed with heated questions about what they have read and heard about CSCOPE, including why it was being called “un-American.” Some asked whether it was true that CSCOPE taught students that Islamic culture and faith is superior to Christianity. Others said they heard it said socialism is better than America’s mixed-market system.
Cleburne ISD Assistant Superintendent Tammy Bright said most of the rumors began when a Lumberton ISD teacher taught an Accelerated Placement world geography class about different world religions. A group of students tasked with giving a presentation on Islam wore burkas to school as part of the project.
“Initially, everybody thought the teacher forced the students to wear burkas,” Bright said. “The kids got to create how they wanted to present the religion. As it went down the pipe, it got exaggerated a little bit more. Even our Commissioner of Education [Michael Williams] sent out a letter to the schools.”
Bright explained that the teacher did not ask the students to wear the clothing and that the lesson had nothing to do with CSCOPE, as AP classes — which track toward college — don’t use the tool. She also said that there is no CSCOPE lesson that teaches one religion is better than another, nor do lessons force students to wear burkas.
“The Texas Education Agency is aware of concerns raised regarding a world geography lesson recently offered in the Lumberton Independent School District,” Williams said in a letter to schools last month. “At my direction, TEA staff visited with the LISD superintendent to determine the specific circumstances. I have been assured the decisions regarding development of this particular lesson were made at the local classroom level and not part of the CSCOPE curriculum management system.”