Below is a short article about Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. You'll notice her connections to a number of philanthropic organizations - Broad, Stupski, Annenberg. She also remembers the time she spent in leveled reading groups as a young child. Leveled reading is part of the standardization crap, the "you can't read that book because you're only a level 15 reader" bullshit that passes as literacy in many of our nation's classrooms. We don't have full-service libraries with librarians in our schools; we don't give teachers the financial resources to stock their room with books; we don't make reading fun for our children - we just give them more testing, more basal readers, more Scott Foresman textbooks, and more DIBELS testing.
I hope Thelma talks to Arne about her horrible experience in a leveled reading group. Arne says he wants kids to love reading. They're not going to love reading when they're stigmatized and drilled, endlessly tested and DIBELed; they'll love reading when they can choose the books they read and find power from the materials they choose to explore. For all the talk about school choice, there's very little dialogue about allowing children to choose their own reading materials.