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Sequel: Cupp goes to Washington

Huzzah! Huzzah! Cindy Cupp deserves every accolade for her persistence and tenacity in calling the Reading First thugs to account .


The scandal uncovered by Georgia whistleblower Cindy Cupp was not the stuff of made-for-TV movies. There were no dead bodies or clandestine affairs. Instead, the former state Department of Education official had to review thousands of pages of documents related to a billion-dollar-a-year federal program and penetrate indifferent and, at times, hostile state and federal bureaucracies.

Cupp's tenacity led to an audit of the state DOE, a sweeping probe of the federal Reading First program used in low-performing schools, and congressional hearings this month on whether states were pressured to award the lucrative grants to favored textbook companies and consultants. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice says it is looking into Reading First.

After serving as Georgia's director of reading instruction, Cupp retired and launched her own reading program that she felt met the federal standards for local schools to use. When Georgia school systems seeking to purchase her program encountered resistance, she found that states were being steered to certain materials and that some of the federal consultants advising them had ties to the publishers. In March of 2005, Cupp took her findings to Georgia's inspector general but nothing happened.

She had more success at the federal level, where her complaints led to a review of Reading First. The U.S. Department of Education's inspector general concluded there was favoritism for certain teaching methods as well as conflicts of interest with consultants and violations of federal government rules about dictating specific curriculums.

When Georgia students read about good government in class, there ought to be a chapter now about Cupp.

ΓΆ€” Maureen Downey, for the editorial board (mdowney@ajc.com)

— Editorial
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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