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Politicians to debate CSCOPE this month

By from Staff Reports
Aug. 8, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Two Texas politicians at the forefront of the battle over CSCOPE have agreed to a public debate in Tyler later this month though the two have not agreed on the format or venue.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston and Thomas Ratliff, vice-chairman of the State Board of Education, embody the dispute over the curriculum program in use since 2006, which became a political issue during the 83rd Legislature pitting hundreds of school districts against social conservatives and tea party groups.

Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, almost single-handedly crippled CSCOPE by getting the Education Service Center to agree to stop using the lesson plans on Aug. 31, sending some 800 Texas school districts scrambling to develop alternate activities tied to the state's intricate standards.

Ratliff, elected to the SBOE in 2010, has called Patrick a bully who is using the CSCOPE issue to catapult his political career.

Patrick - who has said he would debate anyone any day on CSCOPE - agreed to debate

Ratliff Aug. 24 in Tyler at an event hosted by Grassroots Ameria, We the People at Lakeview Church of the Nazarene.

Ratliff said Thursday he preferred another venue.

"First and foremost, I'm in," the Mount Pleasant moderate Republican said in a release Thursday. "I look forward to a thoughtful and detailed policy discussion/debate with Senator Patrick, not an exchange of sound bites with candidate Patrick."

Ratliff proposed a debate at UT Tyler Ornelas Hall utilizing a three-person panel of questioners to include Mary Ann Whiteker, Superintendent of Hudson ISD, Scott Braddock, of the Quorum Report as moderator and JoAnn Fleming representing Grassroots America, We The People.

A Patrick campaign news release said the event would follow the Texas Tribune's well-known 'conversation' style to allow a more unstructured, free flowing exchange of ideas."

Ratliff said he agreed the issue needs a "free flowing exchange of ideas" but he wanted it in a different venue.

"I'm proposing a change of venue because I want to remind everyone this should be a discussion about education policy, not a campaign rally. I also intend to invite area schools' debate students so they can have the opportunity to see a "real world" debate between two elected officials."

The Patrick campaign issued a statement from the Senator Thursday saying, " I'm happy that Mr. Ratliff has accepted my offer to debate the CSCOPE program, we look forward to a frank policy discussion about this issue on the 24th."

The campaign failed to respond to questions about Ratliff's request for a different format and venue.



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