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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reading First and Direct Instruction: A Reprise

For those who would like a good summary of events and players within the Reading First corruption crimes brought to full light last year, check out this one at Institute for Language and Education Policy. Here is a brief clip related to Reid Lyon's handsome young Direct Instruction disciple and protege, Chris Doherty, who was hand selected by Lyon and Neuman to head the billion dollar a year federal program with credentials that would not justify appointment to a principalship (good background on Chris here):

The three people Doherty nominated with connections to DI reviewed 23 state applications, according to the OIG. When a Baltimore school official complained to the department about possible conflicts, the report said, Doherty e-mailed one of the panelists he had selected, “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!’”

Based on this and other e-mail exchanges with the panelists, the OIG concluded that Doherty’s actions exhibited an “apparent intent to include and give a significant role to panelists who reflected his personal preference in reading programs.” In fact, said the OIG, Doherty’s response to a similar internal e-mail discussing Reading Recovery “suggest[s] that he may indeed have intended to ‘stack’ the expert review panel.”

In another instance, the report said, Doherty worked to ensure that a commercial reading program that relies on DI was featured more prominently in Maryland’s list of reading programs used by the state’s districts and schools to qualify for Reading First funds. Reading Mastery, published by SRA-McGraw Hill, is the most widely used reading program to utilize DI. Doherty said in an e-mail that “we need to ENSURE that when MD *does* do its application ... that Reading Mastery is NOT relegated to supplemental status, which would be HORRIBLE for so many ... schools in Balt[imore].”

Subsequent to Doherty’s intervention, according to the OIG report, Reading Mastery became one of Maryland’s seven core reading programs, raising “a question as to whether he was acting with the restraint envisioned by Congress.”

In poking around at the Association for Direct Instruction yesterday, I came across the announcement for THE 22ND ANNUAL ATLANTIC COAST DIRECT INSTRUCTION CONFERENCE & INSTITUTE. And kicking off the Conference in Harrisburg this year is none other than Mrs. Doherty, Laura, who has been a trainer now at ADI since the late 1990s, long before her husband was put in charge of force feeding a chain gang curriculum to America's poor schools. I would guess that business is booming.

Essentials of Coaching................................................Laura Doherty

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