Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

Reading First Expert Quiz

Publication Date: 2002-06-06

A loaded deck? Let's look at who's on the expert panel for the federal Reading First program and ask some questions about the committee's makeup: Where are the teachers? Where are the people who know something about children?s literature? Where are the people whose professional alliance is other than special education and learning disabilities? Where are the people who would caution that a medical model of education is not only foolish but also dangerous?

Dateline Washington D.C.: April 2, 2002

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today launched what he called "the start of the most major reading reform ever conceived of in the United States"—classroom instruction born of proven methods and funded with an unprecedented 300 percent increase in federal funding.

The Feds are going to spend $900 million in Reading First Grants.

On the same day, letters went to state chief education officers explaining:

Reading First is authorized under Title I, Part B, Subpart 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. As required in the legislation, each State educational agency (SEA) must submit an application to the Department in order to receive funding. The legislation also requires that an expert panel selected by the Secretary, the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) review State plans. This requirement makes it infeasible for States to apply for Reading First through their ESEA consolidated applications.

Once the expert panel recommends funding an SEA?s application, the Secretary will award funds on a formula basis. The attached table shows each State's estimated fiscal year 2002 Reading First allocation. These funds will become available on July 1, 2002 and remain available for obligation by SEAs and local educational agencies (LEAs) through September 30, 2004.

The expert panel is listed below.

I believe in the right of (almost) every one of these people to serve on any committee that will have them. But when you study their backgrounds you realize that a depressingly large number of these people are out to hijack reading as we know it. Think about who's missing from their expert list. Where are the teachers? Where are the people who know something about children?s literature? Where are the people whose professional alliance is other than special education and learning disabilities? Where are the people who would caution that a medical model of education is not only foolish but also dangerous?

Reading First Quiz

Part A:

Directions: Answer all 25 questions. You can use some names more than once. Some questions have more than one answer. WARNING: Knowing the right answers can be dangerous to your health.

Answer Key: Since these are the folks who are comfortable at sacrificing children in the interest of "test security," I'd just like to announce that the answers to all of the questions below can be found in the vitae of the Read First Expert panel.

  1. Who wrote an article praising the federal education reform model?
  2. Who secured $15,000,000 from the Feds after promising that all teachers would spend at least 30 hours getting trained in "scientifically-based" reading instruction?
  3. Who has a name linked with a federal education employee and with lots of political contributions to President and Resident Bush?
  4. Who said, "Learning to read is like a race in a big stadium the majority of first graders arrive at the starting line ready and 'waiting for the gun.' But children at risk ?aren?t even in the stadium yet.'"?
  5. Whose research is on the human recognition of the phonetic content of the speech signal?
  6. Who says that even kids who look bright and know how to read can still "have some missing skills. . . . What this [DI] gives you is a vertebrae—a background—to make sure you haven't skipped any skills." Clue: This expert further avows that DI can "Fill any gaps."
  7. Who works for a firm providing web-based needs to Fortune 1000 companies?
  8. Whose satire of Whole Language is on the National Right to Read website?
  9. Who secured the David and Lucile Packard Foundation funds to buy Open Court for Sacramento?
  10. Who's expert at looking at the brains of dead dyslexics?
  11. Who's the parent of a dyslexic child?
  12. Who's a teacher?
  13. Who's vice president of a joint venture outfit, promising that "immediate feedback" they provide will "narrow the educational gap" by "placing the most current student performance information at your fingertips?"
  14. Who?s selling pre-school skill drill workbooks?
  15. Who's an outspoken opponent of NCTE, NCTM, and NAEYC?
  16. Who told a reporter, "Teachers typically don?t know how to teach reading."
  17. Who received a kazillion smackers to study changes in brain activation profiles of 6-8 year-old children?s pre- and post- Direct Instruction training?
  18. Who says the Eagle Forum was the catalyst for the Reading Initiative in her state?
  19. Who did the Business Roundtable send to the Harvard Graduate School of Education to learn about the implications of the No Child Left Behind Legislation and to learn about "the commitment of the business community and top education officials to make this new legislation work?"
  20. What Reading First Expert puts comparisons of Chinese and English word identification processes at the heart of his empirical research?
  21. What Reading First Expert uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the influence of sex hormones on cognitive development during puberty?
  22. What Reading First Expert attributes test score gains to "leadership from the business community and political leadership?" No extra credit for guessing which state he is from.
  23. What researcher has written on "the lingering problem of treatment resisters?"
  24. What expert testified to the federal Committee on Education and the Workbook right before his appointment as expert, "The quickest way to improve the quality and consistency of classroom instruction in grades K through 3 is to identify an excellent published curriculum and implement it in every classroom in all grades . . . It is fortunate that the Reading First legislation encourages the use of well-validated, reliable assessments of reading development to identify children lagging behind"?
  25. What Reading First expert was a stand-in for Moe? And Curly?

Part B: Writing Prompt: Response to Nonfiction Literary Text

Your answer will be scored using the Response to Literary/Expository Text Scoring Guide—depending on who we can get to read it. Trust us: This scoring guide uses the same standards as those published by the Standards and Assessment Division, California Department of Education. This mean it "focuses on reading and addresses the writing application standards that require you to respond to written work." Get that?

The following item—Reading First Review Panel Bedfellows—presents information to prepare world class citizens of the Global Economy of the Twenty First Century. Read it and write a response. In your response considering the following considerations:

  1. Analyze the document, showing how it reflects the heritage, traditions, attitudes, and beliefs of the panel members; members of Congress; the Business Roundtable.
  2. Who's consorting with whom and why?
  3. Evaluate the document, showing the impact of the aesthetic and emotional qualities panel members expect readers to get from the printed page. Use the terminology of what it means to be a government-approved reading expert and what it means to be a kindergartner.


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.