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[Susan notes: Kudos to Stephen Krashen for detailing why we must keep the Reading First story alive in a short attention span press. We should all follow his example with letters to our local papers.]

Submitted to LA Weekly but not published

To the editor

Continuing coverage and new revelations in the Foley

scandal has diverted attention from another huge

scandal affecting millions of young people.

The US Dept of Education Inspector General recently

issued a report concerning extensive wrong-doing in

the administration of Reading First grants, detailing

how schools were forced to use favored materials and

approaches, especially those from McGraw-Hill, a

company with close ties to the Bush family.

Education Secretary Spellings admits that there have

been problems with implementation, but claims that

national (?NAEP?) testing results show that Reading

First, part of No Child Left Behind, has been

successful. Anyone who bothers to look at the data can

see this is false: There is no evidence of improvement

in test scores since these programs were implemented,

and no evidence of ?closing of the gap? between

children from low and high-income families. In fact,

as Gerald Bracey has pointed out, it is highly

unlikely that many children who experienced Reading

First even took the NAEP test, which is given to

fourth graders.

Reading First is based on the results of the National

Reading Panel, a group that recommended ?intensive,

systematic phonics? (an extremist view of phonics

teaching that few professionals support) and that

downplayed the impact of wide self-selected reading.

The administration has ignored extensive criticism of

this report, which came from responsible academics. We

now also know Reading First was administered in an

unethical manner, and claims of its success are not


The Reading First scandal has disappeared from the

headlines, while every detail of Foley?s misdeeds is

reported. Foley?s actions affected at most a few

teenage boys: Reading First affects nearly every child

in the US, and has, so far, cost five billion dollars,

a clear waste of time for children and teachers, and a

huge waste of money for taxpayers.

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus

University of Southern California

for more information: see articles by Stager and by

Krashen at


Stephen Krashen

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