Pork Barrel Eats Away at Education

From the NYTimes
“An Initiative on Reading Is Rated Ineffective”
Modified from the report by Sam Dillon
Published: May 2, 2008

President Bush’s $1 billion a year “Reading First” program, ostensibly an “initiative to teach reading to low-income children” has not helped improve their reading comprehension, according to a Department of Education report released on Thursday.

“Reading First did not improve students’ reading comprehension,” concluded the report, which was mandated by Congress and carried out by the Department of Education’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the education committee, and who has long criticized the program, said, “The Bush administration has put cronyism first and the reading skills of our children last, and this report shows the disturbing consequences.”

In 2006, John Higgins, the department’s inspector general, reported that federal officials and private contractors with ties to publishers had advised educators in several states to buy reading materials for the Reading First program from those publishers.

The Reading First director, Chris Doherty, resigned in 2006, days before the release of Mr. Higgins’s report, which disclosed a number of e-mail messages in which Mr. Doherty referred to contractors or educators who favored alternative curriculums seen as competitors to the Reading First approach as “dirtbags” who he said were “trying to crash our party.”

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