The audit found the department:Spellings is doing everything she can, alright--everything she can to avoid being fired or indicted. She should certainly be fired for letting this mess continue after Neuman left in January 2003. As a co-rony (corrupt crony) of Sandy Kress, Spellings knew exactly that the Reading First panels were packed with Direct Instruction disciples. If I knew that, how could she not know it--she was there when the Monster was sewn together?
_Botched the way it picked a panel to review grant applications, raising questions over whether grants were approved as the law requires.
_Screened grant reviewers for conflicts of interest, but then failed to identify six who had a clear conflict based on their industry connections.
_Did not let states see the comments of experts who reviewed their applications.
_Required states to meet conditions that weren't part of the law.
_Tried to downplay elements of the law it didn't like when working with states.
The report does not name Doherty, referring to him as the Reading First director.
It says he repeatedly used his influence to steer money toward states that used a reading approach he favored, called Direct Instruction, or DI. In one case, the report says, he was told a review panel was stacked with people who backed that program.
"That's the funniest part - yes!" he responded in e-mail dating to 2002. "You know the line from Casablanca, 'I am SHOCKED that there is gambling going on in this establishment!' Well, 'I am SHOCKED that there are pro-DI people on this panel!'"
Spellings took issue with the use of such e-mails in the audit. She said they could be used to draw unfair conclusions about a person's intentions.
The inspector general rejected that. It said the e-mails were written by Doherty in his role as director, and there is no evidence they were inaccurate or pulled out of context.
Yet the audit also faults other officials who had a big hand in Reading First, including Susan Neuman, the former assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education.
Spellings, who became secretary in 2005, said she is not aware of any effort to favor certain reading programs. That, however, is just what the audit says has happened.
"I'm doing everything I can at this point," she said. "I can't undo what's been done."
Spellings, through Feller, is trying to make Susan Neuman the scapegoat here, but this goes much deeper than one greedy hackademic gone mad with power. Much, much deeper.