Saturday, May 12, 2007

Is anyone surprised?

Via Mark Crispin Miller's blog News from the Underground, comes the Joseph Rhee story for ABC News that reveals substantial financial ties between officials in a No Child Left Behind reading program and publishers who stand to make substantial money from supplying materials for the program:

A scathing report issued today documents "substantial financial ties" between key advisors of Reading First, a controversial federal reading grant program, and publishers who benefited from the program.

The report, issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, called the findings "troublesome because they diminish the integrity of the Reading First program."

Reading First is a multi-billion-dollar program meant to boost literacy among low-income children that was adopted as part of No Child Left Behind in 2001.

The news report continues:

The Kennedy report centers on four directors of the Reading First Technical Assistance Centers, who, the report says, were highly influential in advising states on which reading programs to adopt in order to qualify for federal funds.

According to the report, the directors had "extensive ties with education publishers" at the same time they were responsible for evaluating other publishers' programs. The report concluded that such ties may have "improperly influenced actions."

May have? Come on Spot, that's sounds speculative.

Perhaps, grasshopper, but consider this:

Dr. Edward Kame'enui, the director of the Western Technical Assistance Center, was found to have received more than $400,000 from publisher Scott Foresman after authoring a reading program that was widely adopted by schools under Reading First.

While acting as a Reading First director, Kame'enui's contract with Scott Foresman required him to attend and speak at "a minimum of six sales-related workshops or presentations per year" on behalf of the publisher.

Dr. Kame'enui declined to talk to ABC News but acknowledged in a recent House hearing that he was on the Scott Foresman payroll while advising states on Reading First.

Wow, who does this guy think he is, Roger Clemens?

Exactly, grasshopper. It was Department of Education Inspector General's Office that discovered this knavery originally:

Today's report follows six investigations by the Department of Education's inspector general that found bias, mismanagement and conflicts of interest in the implementation of Reading First.

This follows on the heels of the revelation of the student loan industry scandal, and that the official charged with its oversight was resigning, in disgrace:

Under criticism that it has been lax in policing the $85 billion student loan industry, the Education Department announced yesterday that the chief official responsible for overseeing the loan program was stepping down.

Even Forbes magazine is starting to notice.

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