A collection of
national news articles and editorials about the corrupt
practices that provoked the Ed Department's Inspector
General to investigate and the subsequent scathing report on
the appointees at Reading First and their
favored friends in the textbook/testing industry. The
most recent items can be found on higher pages, older
items on the lower pages.
Globe, Sept. 30, 2006
READING FIRST was supposed to be a fairy tale of a US
Department of Education program that ushered children into
the wonderful world of reading. Instead, it become a dark
fable about corrupt government officials and conflicts
Once upon a time in 2001, Congress made a legal wish that
no child be left behind. Since then, Congress has given
nearly $5 billion to states to help children, from kindergarten
to third grade, improve their reading.
States submitted applications and 16 panels of experts
decided which ones to fund.
Unfortunately, the program was
run by a dark wizard, grimly known as the ``director."
The director skirted federal rules. He expected states
to meet standards that weren't required by law. He hid
useful information. When states applied for money and didn't
get it, the director often did not tell them why, even
though the expert panels had often made suggestions that
could have helped
states with future applications.
Sadly, the panels of experts were tainted, staffed in
part by obsequious winged monkeys. Some were chosen by
the director because they supported a particular commercial
reading product that promotes Direct Instruction. States
were pressed to use this product.
When complaints were made that
the panels were unfairly stacked, the director said that
he was ``shocked" in
the smirking Claude-Rains-in-Casablanca sense of the word,
to find gambling -- or in this case politically stacked
panels -- in this establishment. Indeed, the director himself
had in the past promoted the Direct Instruction product.
To discourage states that wanted to use different products,
the director e-mailed a Department of Education staff member
asking for nasty reviews of these products. The e-mail
``They are trying to crash our
party and we need to beat the [expletive] out of them
in front of all the other would-be party crashers who
are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we
welcome these dirtbags."
So much for civil speech and free markets.
Fortunately, people complained. The education department's
inspector general investigated and exposed the truth. Other
investigations are underway. And a metaphorical house has
fallen on the director, Christopher Doherty. His education
department career is over.
The mess predates US Education Secretary Margaret Spellings,
who says she's going to clean house. But the story won't
end until it is clear that the Education Department can
weed out warped bureaucrats in the future and ensure that
federal dollars are properly spent on the literacy needs
PDF copy of the Inspector General's