Sunday, February 25, 2007

The "Reading First" Story Continues

This is from ABC News:
Study: Bias by the Billions in Flawed Ed Program

February 23, 2007 11:16 AM

Justin Rood Reports:

Top Education Department officials, including former Secretary Rod Paige, allowed specialists to improperly encourage state and local officials to spend billions of dollars in federal grant money with a small group of companies, government investigators have concluded.

In educating state and local officials about the department's Reading First grant program, officials loaded expert panels with speakers who overwhelmingly preferred products from a handful of educational companies, according to a report released yesterday by the Education Department's inspector general.

"It sounded like a sales job," one attendee complained in comments to the department which were reviewed by IG officials. "Why are certain approaches disregarded[?]" asked another. "We did not get the whole picture," wrote a third.

"Arrogant! You must think us stupid and uncaring," wrote another. "What else would explain how you talk down to us, preach to us, treat us like morons. I don't experience this level of a 'sell' job when I buy a car." The sessions, known as "the [Education] Secretary's Readership Language Academies," were largely controlled by senior Education Department officials, the investigators found.

The department is barred from interfering with curriculum decisions by state and local education officials.

What's more, the department appointed certain advisors to help state and local officials make spending decisions with their grant money, despite the fact that they had financial ties to the companies whose products were under consideration by those officials, the report found.

Read the rest here, and a different account from Education Week (via Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) here.


mmoore said...

I think this is the tip of the iceberg. This top down model is prevalent in a number of states I know of and probably many I don't know of. However, on the state level, no one is going aqfter either the people or the approaches. Georgia is severely limited in the programs Reading First allows and all of them are horrible.

Don said...

I agree. To me, this(the whole Reading First fiasco) is a classic example of how top-down models of school reform are destined to fail. It seems as though the Dept. of Ed. started out with the assumption that teachers were the enemy but if you had a big enough stick you could beat them into submission. That might "work" for a year or two, but it has virtually no chance of causing lasting change.