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NCLB Outrages

Pro & Con: McGraw-Hill

“Columnist distortions”

by Mary Skafidas, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing, McGraw-Hill Education

William Bainbridge continues to use The Florida Times-Union, a trusted and respected newspaper, to distort facts regarding Reading First and lob false accusations at The McGraw-Hill companies.

Once again, Bainbridge fails to disclose his personal financial interests: His own company competes directly with School Matters, a business operated by Standard & Poor's, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

SchoolMatters and SchoolMatch both specialize in providing data about school and school district performance nationwide to help policymakers, educators and parents to make informed decisions.

The allegation that McGraw-Hill has received preferential treatment creates the impression that the company has only benefited from the Department of Education's actions.

In fact, as Bainbridge must know by now, reading programs offered by two McGraw-Hill Education businesses, Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Wright Group/McGraw-Hill, received few if any Reading First disbursements.

As a way to illustrate that McGraw-Hill was part of the "favored few," Bainbridge points to an e-mail highlighted in the inspector general's report from Chris Doherty, the Reading First program director.

In this e-mail, Doherty vows to deny funding to a publisher that does not subscribe to his philosophy regarding reading instruction.

The publisher referenced by Doherty in his e-mail is the Wright Group, part of McGraw-Hill Education. (Wright Group is also clearly identified as the publisher in the inspector general's report.) Bainbridge is twisting the facts of the inspector general's report to support his own distorted view.

The recent issues raised in regard to Reading First stem from a long-standing, well-documented philosophical debate within the education community on how best to teach reading. To imply that programs are chosen because of alleged political ties to the White House indicates Bainbridge's complete lack of understanding about reading methodology and the process by which school districts choose educational programs.

Our philosophy has always been that teachers teach and students learn differently, and that is why we offer the broadest range of reading programs. Educators have very high regard for all of our programs because of their long record of success in driving student achievement. Our company, founded more than 118 years ago, continues to thrive today because our work and our integrity have both withstood the test of time.


“Attack the Messenger”

by William L. Bainbridge, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor SchoolMatch® Institute

Apparently, McGraw-Hill's public relations strategy is to attack the messenger rather than deal with the facts provided by oversight officials in both the administration and Congress.

The Department of Education's inspector general has referred the "Reading First" program to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.

The inspector general found that programs violated prohibitions against controlling individual school curricula by promoting specific reading materials to the financial benefit of companies - such as McGraw-Hill and Voyager - headed by top Bush administration donors.

The House Education and Labor Committee has also referred the matter for criminal investigation.

Committee Chairman George Miller concluded the way the federal program was run "sounds a lot like a criminal enterprise."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a civil lawsuit over the "unlawful implementation of Reading First.

Executive director, Melanie Sloan, said: "It is becoming increasingly clear that the Bush administration has been sacrificing the education of children to financially benefit a select group of loyalists and donors."

SchoolMatch does not compete for revenue with SchoolMatters. SchoolMatch relies on funding from the private sector.

SchoolMatters of McGraw-Hill was built on an earlier Web site called SchoolResults, funded in part by seed money from the federal government and subsequent grants from large foundations.

SchoolMatch was founded in 1986 and in 2005.

Questions about conflict of interest and propriety can be raised about McGraw-Hill's Chairman, Harold McGraw III's role as a former member of President Bush's transition advisory committee on trade, chair of the National Council on Economic Education and current chair of the nonprofit Business Roundtable.

Current McGraw-Hill Board Director Edward Rust Jr., also a member of the president's transition team, was chairman of Business Roundtable's Education Initiative when the roundtable advocated No Child and serves on a commission to make recommendations to Congress and the Bush administration on how No Child can be "improved."

This nation had superior norm-referenced achievement tests (Iowa, Metropolitan) prior to the criterion-referenced state-level tests (such as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) that produce profits for such testing vendors.

— William Bainbridge and Mary Skafidas
Florida Times-Union


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