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NCLB Outrages

Audit finds Education Dept. missteps

Ohanian Comment: I've expressed curiosity a number of times about how and why Chris Doherty ever got this job. I still wonder.

And about the Bushies spending reading money the way they want. . . well, now, numerous people have been pointing this out for years.

Note that Spellings has pledged a review of every Reading First grant. I hope the state education department synchophants across the land will now hang their heads in shame. The least of what they can do is APOLOGIZE for being such toadies.

NOTE: The Final Inspection Report is available from the Office of the Inspector General in a pdf file.

George Miller, you hang your head, too. Plenty of people have told you about this. But you were too arrogant to listen.


by Ben Feller

A scorching internal review of the Bush administration's reading program says the Education Department ignored the law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.

The government audit is unsparing in its review of how Reading First, a billion-dollar program each year, that it says has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.

It also depicts a program in which review panels were stacked with people who shared the director's views and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.

In one e-mail, the director told a staff member to come down hard on a company he didn't support, according to the report released Friday by the department's inspector general.

"They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the (expletive deleted) out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags," the Reading First director wrote, according to the report.

That official, Chris Doherty, is resigning in the coming days, department spokeswoman Katherine McLane said Friday. Asked if his quitting was in response to the report, she said only that Doherty is returning to the private sector after five years at the agency.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, in a statement, pledged to swiftly adopt all of the audit's recommendations. She also pledged a review of every Reading First grant.

"I am concerned about these actions and committed to addressing and resolving them," she said.

Reading First aims to help young children read through scientifically-proven programs, and the department considers it a jewel of No Child Left Behind, Bush's education law. Just this week, a separate review found that the effort is helping schools raise achievement.

But from the start, the program has also been dogged by accusations of impropriety, leading to several ongoing audits. The new report from the Office of Inspector General an independent arm of the Education Department calls into question basic matters of credibility.

When the department fails to follow the law and its own guidance, the report says, "it can only serve to undermine the public's confidence in the department."

The ranking Democrat on the House education committee was furious.

"They should fire everyone who was involved in this," said Rep. George Miller (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif. "This was not an accident, this was not an oversight. This was an intentional effort to corrupt the process."

About 1,500 school districts have received $4.8 billion in Reading First grants.

— Ben Feller
Associated Press
2006-09-22


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