"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 29, 2006

Reading First Finding #4: Breaking Federal Law (again)

If there was any doubt that federal laws were broken by the Reading First mafia, there will be none after looking at the following examples. The heft of the OIG Report can be found in Finding 4, which is broken out into the following categories with evidence supplied to illustrate how each violation of federal law was accomplished:
In the course of answering our objectives for the inspection, we found that the Department, acting through the former Assistant Secretary for OESE, the Reading First Director, and others [Carnine and Lyon]:

  • Developed an application package that obscured the requirements of the statute;
  • Took action with respect to the expert review panel process that was contrary to the balanced panel composition envisioned by Congress;
  • Intervened to release an assessment review document without the permission of the entity that contracted for its development;
  • Intervened to influence a State’s selection of reading programs; and
  • Intervened to influence reading programs being used by LEAs after the applicationprocess was completed.
Developed an application package that obscured the requirements of the statute. This section details how Susan Neuman, then an Assistant Secretary, aided Doherty in adding some language that was not included in the Law and deleting other language that was in the law. Why? To make sure that non-Oregon mafia (Ore-Mafia) programs like Reading Recovery were cut out of the action:
The Assistant Secretary for OESE planned for the Reading First Guidance to include language that was not in the statute and exclude language that was in the statute. After reviewing a revision to the Department’s draft of the Reading First Guidance, the Assistant Secretary for OESE wrote to the Reading First Director, “under reading first plan. i’d like not to say ‘this must include early intervention and reading remediation materials’ which i think could be read as reading recovery’ [a reading program]. even if it says this in the law, i’d like it taken out.” The subject phrase appears in the law twice (p. 15).
Doherty, under the direction of his handlers, came up with a solution that moved some of the language required by law from the Reading First Criteria into the Reading Guidance section, thus effectively changing the criteria that Congress intended when the Law was enacted:
The approach outlined by the Reading First Director was eventually reflected in the application package that was available to every State on April 2, 2002. As discussed in Finding 3, the Department ultimately included the “bold” language that distorted the requirements of the statute in the Reading First Criteria.

In the Pre-reading notes document, the Reading First Director wrote:
OGC [Office of General Counsel] could likely have concerns with the overall, near-unrelenting aggressiveness of this application...the law does not really require what we are quite literally requiring in our (aggressive) application. Such examples are manifold and OGC may catch some, many or all of them. We have not highlighted them to OGC, of course, and we don’t know how many they’ll focus on. On some issues, we may be able to dodge a little by moving some ‘Meets Standards’ points to the ‘Exemplary,’ but if we do that too much, the result is a less bold application and decreased chances of overall success. We’ll need your muscle [Neuman's?] with OGC on these points across the board (p. 16).

Our next post will examine the the other remaining points under Finding 4.

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