A chain email sent to Dallas-area school board members and district officials that prompted an investigation into alleged Islamic bias in the system's curriculum turned up perhaps unintended results.
The email, titled "IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM," warned: "Christians are going to have to stand up against the pro Islamic teaching in our public schools with CSCOPE curriculum."
CSCOPE is a nonprofit offshoot of the Texas Education Service Centers, established in 1965 across the state's school districts, and helps develop curricula and implement school reform. The agency is reported to have received about $25 million in funding last year.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the resulting 72-page report -- compiled by a former social studies teacher described by CSCOPE's director as a "very socially and fiscally conservative" woman who "watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis" -- found quite the opposite of any Islamic bias: If anything, Irving schools have a Christian bias.
The teacher was told to "look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial," by reading every textbook used for kindergarten through high school and record any bias in the CSCOPE curriculum, according to the Morning News. Among the findings:
- Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
- The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
- If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was “bias against radical Islam.”
CSCOPE's lesson plans have seen some controversy before, particularly over one unit that depicts the Boston Tea Party as an act of terrorism.
The Texas Education Service Centers are now tasked with preparing Texas teachers to meet the state's new, more rigorous State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness standardized exams.
The Texas State Board of Education in 2010 adopted a statewide social studies and history curriculum that amended or watered down the teaching of the civil rights movement, religious freedoms, America's relationship with the United Nations and hundreds of other topics. The Board also adopted a resolution in 2010 that sought to limit references to Islam in Texas textbooks, claiming that the materials were "tainted" with "pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions.
A report out last year by Keith Erekson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso, says that Texas K-12 standards in history are inadequate, ineffective and "fail to meet the state's college readiness standards." The report notes that the Fordham Institute gave Texas's history standards a "D" grade, calling them a "politicized distortion of history" that is "both unwieldy and troubling" while "offering misrepresentations at every turn."