For those who had other plans on Saturday evening and thus, did not watch the Patrick-Ratliff debate over CSCOPE, here’s a run-down. The debate, moderated by Scott Braddock, Quorum Report, continued for two hours, and despite trading a few jabs, both men focused their comments on answering questions from two panelists: Dr. Mary Ann Whiteker, Superintendent of Hudson ISD and JoAnn Fleming, from Grassroots America – We The People.

The questions focused on such topics as: (1) research base for Patrick’s claim during the legislative session that students in schools that used CSCOPE underperformed their peers in schools that did not use CSCOPE lessons; (2) why the Legislature only investigated CSCOPE lesson plans, and not the other lesson plans used by Texas districts, and (3) issues of CSCOPE’s management and transparency.

In their closing statements, both men agreed that the crux of “this debate is a difference of opinion about what local control looks like.” Patrick believes that “local control” is about parents’ right to decide their children’s education, and the Legislature’s number one job is to stand up for the parents and students. He believes that parents do not want CSCOPE lessons to be taught in Texas schools without further vetting by the State Board of Education: “Let’s look at the lessons and see if there’s value there. If there’s not value there, no one should want them.” Ratliff, on the other hand, defines local control as governance by the locally elected school board. He believes that the legislature should not micromanage what’s going on in Texas classrooms. He argued that school boards, not the legislature, are in the best position to decide whether their district should use CSCOPE.

Saturday’s debate will not be the end of the controversy over CSCOPE or over the definition of local control.