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[Susan notes: Kudos.

It is imperative that we keep the focus on the Reading First scandal--and on what really matters for encouraging young readers. This letter does just that. Great detail--from the number of schools receiving tainted money from Reading First to news of a library book sale.]

Published in Yakima Herald-Republic

To the editor

I can't help but wonder if John Dekker ("Any Chance to Bash Bush," Letters, Sept. 29) wrote the Herald-Republic a thank-you letter for not publishing Ben Feller's Associated Press article on "Reading Program Blasted on Ethics." (Seattle Times, Sept. 23 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2003


Feller's article reported how a government audit found that the Reading First program has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. The department considers Reading First a jewel in President Bush's education law, NCLB (aka as No Corporation Left Behind. The "C" doesn't stand for child). The audit suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.

Everyone's focused on Iraq. Many American lives are being lost there. Reading First affects many children in the U.S., and has, so far, cost $5 billion.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has awarded Reading First grants to more than 70 Washington state schools, many of which are in our Valley. I hope this audit opens eyes.

How do you help a person read? By having her/him read. Access to books. Self-selected silent reading. Twenty minutes a night reading a book a child likes does wonders. By the way, The Yakima Valley Regional Library Friends of the Library is having a book sale (today) from 10-5. (http://www.yvrls.lib.wa.us/cover/). There will be a plethora of books for 50 cents each

Jane Watson

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