11:33 am CST - March 18, 2013
Posted under On The Record
By Marty Rowley, SBOE Dist. 15
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – There has been a lot of conversation recently about the curriculum product called CSCOPE, and understandably so. For those of you who may not know, CSCOPE is an instructional material product that has been developed by a coalition of Regional Education Service Centers that has become so popular it is currently used in over 70% of the school districts in Texas.
It also has been endorsed by all 20 of the Regional Service Centers in Texas, including the six centers that are in my SBOE district.
Regardless of the way many people feel about CSCOPE, there can be no argument that many local school boards in Texas have chosen to use it as a part of their instruction methodology.
That’s the reason why I began to have conversations with Barbara Cargill (left,) Chair of the State Board of Education, back in December, about a way for CSCOPE to be submitted to the SBOE for a review of its content.
As the law currently stands, the SBOE does not have jurisdiction over CSCOPE, so I wanted to explore a possible collaborative effort whereby the CSCOPE Coalition would voluntarily submit its product for review by the SBOE. Barbara was supportive, so I contacted Kyle Wargo of Lubbock’s Region 17 ESC, and the idea took off from there.
Thanks to the efforts of Kyle, Anne Poplin of Wichita Fall’s Region 9 and John Bass of Amarillo’s Region 16, I am pleased to announce that the CSCOPE Coalition has formally asked the SBOE to subject CSCOPE to SBOE review. This review will begin with Social Studies and will be done by panels made up of teachers, parents, educators and experts from all across the state.
While the details are still being worked out, the effort is definitely off the ground and moving forward. I am very optimistic that through this process the quality of the CSCOPE lessons will be dramatically improved, and consequently, the quality of the education our Texas schoolchildren receive will be the best it can be.
As Senator Patrick noted, there are some valid concerns about transparency, including parental access, and also a lack of content review. It was noted that at least one bill has been filed in the House that would mandate that CSCOPE be reviewed by the SBOE, and there were indications that the CSCOPE Coalition is working to provide greater access to the product for parents.
On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, Senator Dan Patrick, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, conducted the swearing in ceremony of the fifteen members of the SBOE, including eight members who were newly added to the Board.
In his introductory remarks, Senator Patrick affirmed the role of the SBOE in helping Texas schoolchildren reach their potential through quality education. He spoke of valuing every child, including those who may not be gifted athletically, but who possess other attributes that are waiting to be drawn out through their educational experience.
The first day of the first full SBOE meeting was an eventful one for Marty as he was one of eight members who drew a “4″ out of the hat. Due to redistricting, all 15 positions of the State Board of Education were up for election this term, so it was necessary to decide which members were to have two year terms and which would have four year terms. Fortunately, Marty drew a four year term, along with the following members:
- Barbara Cargill, The Woodlands
- Martha Dominguez, El Paso
- Ken Mercer, San Antonio
- Donna Bahorich, Houston
- Tom Maynard, Florence
- Thomas Ratliff, Mount Pleasant and
- Sue Melton, Waco
Members drawing two year terms were:
Ruben Cortez, Jr., Brownsville; Marisa Perez, San Antonio; Lawrence Allen, Jr., Fresno; David Bradley, Beaumont; Pat Hardy, Fort Worth; Tincy Miller, Dallas and Mavis Knight, Dallas.
Shortly after the drawing for terms, an election was held for Vice Chair of the Full Board. Nominated for that position were Ken Mercer and Thomas Ratliff. Marty was one of six members voting for Ken, while Mr. Ratliff was elected with nine votes. Mavis Knight was elected Secretary.
Committee appointments were then made by the Executive Committee, made up of Barbara Cargill, Thomas Ratliff and Mavis Knight, but not before Marty supported a motion by Tincy Miller that those deliberations be conducted publicly before the full board. That motion was deadlocked at 7 to 7 until Chair Barbara Cargill voted in favor of open deliberations. Thereafter, Marty was appointed to the School Initiatives Committee and was later selected Vice Chair of that committee during its meeting on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Fine Arts TEKS were approved for second reading and Marty sponsored nine amendments to the Theatre and Dance Standards. The amendments were submitted to Marty by persons knowledgeable about curriculum standards and all nine amendments were passed unanimously.
The TASA Midwinter conference was held in Austin the same week as the SBOE meeting and I accepted their invitation to attend several important events during the conference. On Monday I was privileged to be a part of the Blue Ribbon Schools Recognition Ceremony. This ceremony recognizes the state’s highest performing schools in the areas of reading and mathematics.
Those receiving awards from District 15 were Gruver Elementary School, Amber Holland, Principal; David Teal, Superintendent and Sundown Elementary School, Scott Marshall, Principal and Mike Motheral, Superintendent.
Out of the 9,256 schools in Texas, only 16 schools received this recognition and SBOE District 15 had two of those honorees.