It Seems That CSCOPE is the Root of All Evil (Part 2 of 4)

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Note: CSCOPE is a vertically aligned scope and sequence used by hundreds of school districts.

Today is Part 2 of our examination of the arguments of the Anti-CSCOPE loonies.  To be clear, I would like to point out that I do not confuse the Loonies with reflective professionals who work with and around a useful but admittedly imperfect curriculum tool, of which I count myself a member. But I digress. On with the continuing dissection of the CSCOPE is Evil Manifesto.

Anti-CSCOPE Argument Number 4: CSCOPE was secretly created without permission from any legislative or executive authority.

Response: First, CSCOPE was not created in secret.  It is the product of a curriculum support collaborative that began in the early 2000s. Early development and use was in East Texas and the Valley.  Then accountability sanctions began to be enforced, which created an overriding and compelling need for improved instructional resources for teachers.  TEA was not in a position to create or produce anything of quality due to its budget and personnel being slashed to the bone (again, Bush and Perry).  As a result, the only entity with infrastructure and expertise was the ESC network.  With both direct and indirect prodding from Commissioners Neeley and Scott, their executive staff, the funding giants (Gates and Dell Foundations) and the legislature, the ESCs reluctantly mobilized.  So the creating of CSCOPE was never a case of the ESCs overstepping their bounds and/or not asking permission.  Instead CSCOPE is a prominent case of a government agency successfully fulfilling a directive and meeting customer demand at the same time. 

Anti-CSCOPE Argument Number 5: CSCOPE charges for the use of its product and the funds are passed onto a fiscal agent, known only as ESC 13. And the number 13 is central to voodoo, witchcraft and other forms of paganism.

Response: Yes, CSCOPE is a service/product that districts purchase. Do I wish that this wasn’t the case? Yes, but there is nothing wrong and improper about this. It’s just the result of willfully underfunding essential infrastructure (again, see Bush, Perry, the Right). Just as there are publicly owned toll roads (pay for use), contracted law enforcement support (pay for use) and city water and trash pick-up fees (pay for use), the districts that use CSCOPE pay for that right.  And yes, ESC 13 is the fiscal agent for CSCOPE. It is one of twenty Educational Service Centers in the state.  They are creatively named ESC 1, ESC 2, and so on.  ESC 13 serves as the fiscal agent for CSCOPE for two primary reasons. First, ESC 13 already had the necessary staff on hand to manage and perpetuate a large project, for example, a statewide curriculum collaborative. Second, and most importantly, ESC 13 is based in Austin.  So due to simple geography, it was and is in the best position to quickly respond to the every changing demands of TEA, the Legislature and the Governor.     

Anti-CSCOPE Argument Number 6: School districts have spent millions of dollars on CSCOPE.

Response: Yes, at an annual cost of $7.00 per student, districts have paid millions for the development, delivery and evolution of CSCOPE.  But just like when my wife and nieces buy shoes on sale, this expenditure actually represents a significant cost savings.  Understand that a responsible district is going to spend money to provide a curriculum and resources to teachers. At minimum, this requires four content specialists, a part-time supervisor and one clerical person. The annual salary cost of this department will be at least $315,000.00. These people will work their tails off and deliver a substandard product.  Why? Because the scale of the work is too grand for such a small team.  But for that same $315,000.00 a district can purchase CSCOPE for up to 45,000 students. So let’s do the math.  Take a mid-size district of 10,000 students. An annual per pupil cost of an ineffective curriculum department would start at $31.50 per student. If you want to hire enough staff to ensure decent quality and a usable product, just back up the money truck.

But with CSCOPE as a resource, now that small curriculum department can be eliminated (a horrible idea), or that small curriculum staff can now work directly with teachers on improving the delivery of instruction (a great idea).  The bottom line is this, you can’t not spend money on schools (contrary to current political intent) but you can spend money in an efficient manner that is also beneficial to teachers and students. 

Tomorrow, we’ll address arguments 7 thru 9.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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It Seems That CSCOPE is the Root of All Evil (Part 1 of 4)
It Seems That CSCOPE is the Root of All Evil (Part 3 of 4)

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