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[Susan notes: Here's a good letter that brings in a lot of information about conflicts of interest in the way the Feds do business.]

Published in USA Today

To the editor

Conflicts of interest in reading program

USA Today August 11, 2005

Congratulations to Robert Slavin of the Success for All Foundation for pointing out that President Bush's Reading First program is riddled with conflicts of interest. And congratulations to USA TODAY for having the courage to print this criticism (“Federally funded Reading First called into question,” Life, Monday).

Slavin is right that federal consultants run the committees that review states' plans for buying the very expensive “reading” programs favored by Bush. He left out that some of the same “researchers” also sat on or were contributors to the National Reading Panel that defined “scientific” as those same programs. Conflicts of interest? Yes, sir.

The article says that “Congress is expected to distribute about $6 billion to schools by 2007.” Actually, this money doesn't wind up at schools. It quickly passes through them to the few approved publishers, the most prominent of which is McGraw-Hill, run by old Bush family friend Harold McGraw III.

Slavin's complaint comes on the heels of an Aug. 4 request from the highly respected Reading Recovery Council of North America for a formal investigation of the U.S. Department of Education's actions in its implementation of Reading First.

Now we need some brave little defense contractor, or perhaps a member of Congress, to raise a few questions about Halliburton.

Susan Harman, principal, Growing Children charter school, Oakland, CA

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