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The Long Game: Texas' Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom

From: Trey Kay
Length: 59:01

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"Long Game" is a new radio documentary about ongoing culture war battles over education in the Lone Star State.

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For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and shouldn’t be taught in public school classrooms.   While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat. In many ways, Texans are stuck.  Some believe teachers should lay out relevant facts before students and have them draw their own conclusions. Others believe there should be particular values —perhaps absolute values— added into the mix to help guide students.”  

For “Long Game,” Trey Kay (producer of the Peabody, Murrow and DuPont honored “Great Textbook War”) spent nearly two years gathering interviews and acquiring archival audio in Texas.  During this process, he was present to capture a new controversy that erupted over a Texas-generated curriculum system known as CSCOPE. Tea Party parents were outraged when they discovered there were CSCOPE lessons that equated Boston Tea Party participants to terrorists and encouraged students to design a flag for a new communist country. These parents were also troubled by lessons that taught the fundamental principals of Islam. When they asked to see more of their children’s lessons, they were told that CSCOPE material was protected by a non-disclosure agreement and that parents couldn’t have access.  The controversy reached critical mass after conservative talk show host Glenn Beck began speaking to his national audience about CSCOPE as a form of leftist indoctrination that was running rampant in Texas and could potentially appear in public schools in other states.  After about six months of intense media and political pressure, the lesson plan wing of CSCOPE –used in over 70% of Texas schools – was disbanded.

Kay’s report also examines Texas’ perennial battle over science standards and in particular, how the state chooses to teach all things related to the origins of the universe and theory of evolution.  This fall (2013), the Texas Board of Education is selecting biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade. The panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth.

 

What people are saying about Long Game :

Compelling journalism and artful storytelling, Trey Kay reports on the deep social divide that affects how students are being taught in classrooms across America. Deeply researched and clearly reported, Long Game examines the characters, issues and social divide over textbooks and curriculum in public schools in Texas. The war over textbooks has become a red-hot battle over testing and curricula in which ideology too often trumps education. No documentary in memory better explains how we got here and what it means. Every parent should listen to this documentary as if their child’s education depended on it – because it does.  

Wayne Slater, Senior Political Writer, The Dallas Morning News and author of “ Bush's Brain : How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential.


Trey Kay has done it once again: The Long Game is scrupulously reported and beautifully produced, a rigorous, fair-minded and illuminating exploration of one of America's fundamental challenges, the ascendant and hysterical conviction that, pace Daniel Moynihan, everyone is entitled to his own facts as well as his own opinion. A compelling and important hour of radio.

Kurt Andersen, co-founder of Spy Magazine and host of PRI’s Studio 360

 

Nobody knows more about the long, fraught history of the Culture Wars in our schools than Trey Kay. The Long Game is proof that in 2013, more than 50 years after the Gablers began picking apart textbooks at their kitchen table, what happens in Texas still matters to public education. A fascinating listen!

Greg Toppo , USA Today's national K-12 education reporter

Trey Kay has produced our best single account of curriculum controversies in Texas, a longtime battleground for the culture wars in American education. As Kay shows, the current imbroglio over "CSCOPE" has deep roots in Lone Star political and religious history. But it also reflects more recent trends, especially the nationwide movement for standards and accountability. Given their profound cultural and ideological differences, can Americans ever embrace a shared "standard" of education? Listen to Trey Kay, and make up your own mind.

Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of Education and History, New York University and author of Whose America: Culture Wars in the Public Schools (Harvard University Press)

 

Trey Kay provides a deep, richly reported look at longtime culture wars over what can be taught in Texas classrooms. He takes listeners inside Sunday schools, classrooms and the minds of those who believe the teaching of evolution theory and state curriculum materials confuse and mislead students and promote anti-American battles.  Kay goes well behind the superficial headlines about battles over curriculum delivery and textbooks in the Longhorn State, getting his pulse on why ideology continues to dominate education debates.

 

Liz Willen, editor, The Hechinger Report, Teachers College, Columbia University

Piece Description


For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and shouldn’t be taught in public school classrooms.   While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat. In many ways, Texans are stuck.  Some believe teachers should lay out relevant facts before students and have them draw their own conclusions. Others believe there should be particular values —perhaps absolute values— added into the mix to help guide students.”  

For “Long Game,” Trey Kay (producer of the Peabody, Murrow and DuPont honored “Great Textbook War”) spent nearly two years gathering interviews and acquiring archival audio in Texas.  During this process, he was present to capture a new controversy that erupted over a Texas-generated curriculum system known as CSCOPE. Tea Party parents were outraged when they discovered there were CSCOPE lessons that equated Boston Tea Party participants to terrorists and encouraged students to design a flag for a new communist country. These parents were also troubled by lessons that taught the fundamental principals of Islam. When they asked to see more of their children’s lessons, they were told that CSCOPE material was protected by a non-disclosure agreement and that parents couldn’t have access.  The controversy reached critical mass after conservative talk show host Glenn Beck began speaking to his national audience about CSCOPE as a form of leftist indoctrination that was running rampant in Texas and could potentially appear in public schools in other states.  After about six months of intense media and political pressure, the lesson plan wing of CSCOPE –used in over 70% of Texas schools – was disbanded.

Kay’s report also examines Texas’ perennial battle over science standards and in particular, how the state chooses to teach all things related to the origins of the universe and theory of evolution.  This fall (2013), the Texas Board of Education is selecting biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade. The panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth.

 

What people are saying about Long Game :

Compelling journalism and artful storytelling, Trey Kay reports on the deep social divide that affects how students are being taught in classrooms across America. Deeply researched and clearly reported, Long Game examines the characters, issues and social divide over textbooks and curriculum in public schools in Texas. The war over textbooks has become a red-hot battle over testing and curricula in which ideology too often trumps education. No documentary in memory better explains how we got here and what it means. Every parent should listen to this documentary as if their child’s education depended on it – because it does.  

Wayne Slater, Senior Political Writer, The Dallas Morning News and author of “ Bush's Brain : How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential.


Trey Kay has done it once again: The Long Game is scrupulously reported and beautifully produced, a rigorous, fair-minded and illuminating exploration of one of America's fundamental challenges, the ascendant and hysterical conviction that, pace Daniel Moynihan, everyone is entitled to his own facts as well as his own opinion. A compelling and important hour of radio.

Kurt Andersen, co-founder of Spy Magazine and host of PRI’s Studio 360

 

Nobody knows more about the long, fraught history of the Culture Wars in our schools than Trey Kay. The Long Game is proof that in 2013, more than 50 years after the Gablers began picking apart textbooks at their kitchen table, what happens in Texas still matters to public education. A fascinating listen!

Greg Toppo , USA Today's national K-12 education reporter

Trey Kay has produced our best single account of curriculum controversies in Texas, a longtime battleground for the culture wars in American education. As Kay shows, the current imbroglio over "CSCOPE" has deep roots in Lone Star political and religious history. But it also reflects more recent trends, especially the nationwide movement for standards and accountability. Given their profound cultural and ideological differences, can Americans ever embrace a shared "standard" of education? Listen to Trey Kay, and make up your own mind.

Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of Education and History, New York University and author of Whose America: Culture Wars in the Public Schools (Harvard University Press)

 

Trey Kay provides a deep, richly reported look at longtime culture wars over what can be taught in Texas classrooms. He takes listeners inside Sunday schools, classrooms and the minds of those who believe the teaching of evolution theory and state curriculum materials confuse and mislead students and promote anti-American battles.  Kay goes well behind the superficial headlines about battles over curriculum delivery and textbooks in the Longhorn State, getting his pulse on why ideology continues to dominate education debates.

 

Liz Willen, editor, The Hechinger Report, Teachers College, Columbia University

Broadcast History

Premiere on Austin Public Radio - KUT 90.5 FM, Sunday, October 13, 2013

Transcript

Long Game: Texas’s Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom

Segment A –

Billboard idea:

Glenn Beck: We cannot lose Texas. If we lose the education in Texas we lose the entire country.

Narration: The Lone Star State is battling over what children should be taught about History, Evolution, God and Country.

Neal Frey: It’s a battle against good vs. evil. The Kingdom of God vs. The Kingdom of the Devil.

Narration: Those battles could affect classrooms all over the nation.

Norma Gabler: Why should a handful of liberals totally control what’s going on in our textbooks?

Jim Kracht: Their teacher assigned that they would design a flag for a communist country! Well, I mean that can get people really riled up, you know.

Thomas Ratliff: I've equated it to a “21st century book burning [cut] this is just absolute political witch hunt

Narration: Coming up, the Long Game. Texas’...
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

Billboard - 59 seconds
News Hole - 5 minutes
Segment A - 6:00 to 23:43
Music break - 59 seconds
Segment B - 24:44 to 37:25
Music break - 59 seconds
Segment C - 38:26 to 59:00

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Original Music Michael Lipton and Tristram Lozaw No Album. No Label 2013 :00

Additional Credits

Produced and narrated by Trey Kay

Edited by Deborah George

Associate Producers: Catherine Winter, Jonathan Mitchell, Mia Lobel, Carolyn Sandano, Rick Kwan and Dave Mistich.

Assistant Producers: Alec Hamilton and Alex Lubben.

Music was created and produced by Michael Lipton and Tristram Lozaw.

Special thanks to Neal Frey of Education Research Analysts, Renee Jackson of Texas Education Agency, Tonya Wood of the Texas State Archives, Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, LynNell Hancock, Pat Wingert, Linda Shaw, Jonathan Zimmerman, Nancy Solomon, Arlene Morgan, Kathy Kay, Eleanor Davis, Scott Finn, Sherrie Segers, Fannie Casey, Lu Olkowski, the law firm of Kay, Casto & Chaney law firm, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Austin Public Radio – KUT.

“The Long Game” was a project made possible by the Spencer Fellowship for Education Reporting at Columbia University's School of Journalism with additional funding provided by the Fund for Investigative Journalism, Marist College, the CRC Foundation, Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and generous listener support.