As a greater level of scrutiny is being placed on the controversial curriculum systems CSCOPE (in Texas) and Common Core Standards (nationwide), concerned parents spoke to TheBlaze about their troubling experiences, revealing that not even home-schooling is beyond the reach of these encroaching systems.
Home-schooling not beyond the reach of Common Core?
Keven Card, a former Marine from Houston who has home-schooled his children for the last six years, thought his family was safe from the reach of Common Core, but soon learned otherwise. As noted on his blog, two years ago Pearson Education, which is linked to Common Core, acquired Texas Connections Academy, the online charter school Card uses to homeschool his ninth-grader.
One lesson plan featured a video dubbed, "China Rises," that appears to tout the virtues of Communism over capitalism.
"It blew my mind," Card told TheBlaze in an interview.
"They make kids watch a video that makes capitalism look bad and Communist China look good. It's absolutely unbelievable."
Below are several screenshots of the program, "China Rises," along with a video that Card was able to record and save for his own records.
The captions below read:
The next time you go shopping for clothes, electronics, shoes, toys, or even food, check the label. There’s a good chance it says “Made in China.”
As you might guess, China has one of the most productive economies in the world, and it has been growing at a rapid pace in recent decades. This growth has brought great wealth to Chinese entrepreneurs and businesses and improved standards of living for millions of people.
The China Rises website provides preview clips and information on the content featured in the program. Notably, the “Party Games” and “Getting Rich” sections, Card explained, are of particular interest as they "address the changing politics and economy of China."
It is also worth pointing out that the documentary was produced in partnership with The New York Times and Discovery Times.
Card notes that the video preview made available under the "Getting Rich" sub-section of the site talks about capitalism's "cruelties" as it shows a man whose lost his hand in a machine. The section appears at the 1.12 mark.
When asked how long questionable lessons like China Rises have been on his son's roster of studies, Card said he first noticed curriculum changing roughly a year or two ago when a religious studies lesson favored the Muslim faith over Christianity.
"I wrote a letter to the principal of the Texas Connections Academy, but never received a reply," the concerned father said. Pearson acquired our school in 2011.
What is StudentGPS and what does it track, exactly?
A Texas mother whose child is enrolled in the fifth grade at a Texas public school told TheBlaze that while some of the lesson plans at her child's school are worrisome, she is most concerned about data mining, especially in light of the fact that, come next year, her school will implement something called "StudentGPS dashboards."
"I'm not sure if it will be just at our school or all of them," the Blaze reader, who asked to remain nameless out of concern for her child and school faculty explained. "I have a feeling our school will be one the earlier ones to implement the StudentGPS."
According to the StudentGPS website, the program is part of a partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), are particularly beneficial in identifying "at-risk students" by providing educators a "collection of reports and metrics that provide educators with access to historical, timely, and predictive information on all students to help improve education outcomes for all Texas students."
The dashboards are said to "flag emerging issues such as problems in attendance, class work, and test performance as early as possible" as well as "provide instant access to analyzed data, instead of requiring requests to a data analyst for ad hoc reports."
While the site states that "loading dashboard data to TSDS is strictly optional," schools are encouraged to do so as they provide a "rich, sophisticated, empirical approach to teaching that help schools, classes, and individual students get more from their educational opportunities."
The Blaze reader said she found out about the GPS "dashboards" while on a call with the school principal about the district's plan to allocate iPads to all students next year. She said that she was concerned about the kinds of data that would be tracked on the iPad, but that once she heard about StudentGPS, she was concerned "even more."
Below are tutorial videos provided by the StudentGPS Dashboards official website, which is part of the "Texas Student Data System."
"StudentGPS - Attendance"
Kids know about global warming and wars
Another item the concerned mother noted was that her 5th grader brought home a questionable homework assignment earlier this week. The parent told TheBlaze that the lesson (screenshots of which are featured below) is being used as practice for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam, which is to be administered by schools next week.
The lesson in this case was not produced by CSCOPE, but rather a independent company. Nonetheless, some of the language and themes will still raise eyebrows.
"The content seems designed to undermine parental authority," the Texas resident said. "Adults are just too stupid to get anything right. I assume the intent is to drive a wedge between parent and child."
The excerpts below ask why children are not permitted to vote, especially when (see section 3) they understand "global warming and war" and know that adults have only made the world's problems worse.
The Texas mom said that while CSCOPE is implemented at her school, teachers are not forced to use its lesson plans. She added that while that may be a good thing, she has still "come to expect verbiage on global warming and fossil fuels" and believes CSCOPE's influence will only increase. The Blaze reader also expressed concern over the fact that experienced teachers are growing tired of trying to overcome "the hurdles" and will likely leave the schools out of sheer frustration.
"We are part of a good, close community, which makes this [CSCOPE implementation] that much harder," she explained.
Below is an excerpt of the homework assignment:
Those cases cited above are but a fraction of the questionable lesson plans that seem to be par for the course with Common Core and CSCOPE. As a result of TheBlaze's coverage, other concerned parents may also come forward to express their concerns and experiences with these controversial curriculum systems.