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NCLB Outrages

Reading First and Funding

Ohanian Comment: Here we see a professional organization at work. Rich Long is IRA Director of Government Relations (i.e. a lobbyist). Here's what Long wrote in Washington Update, Reading Teacher, February 2005:

Many observers anticipate that the new secretary [Margaret Spellings] will push for a more open administration interested in working with different groups and removing barriers to the success of NCLB. During the first Bush administration, the Department of Education had been criticized for being slow in issuing guidance for NCLB and for being difficult to communicate with on a wide range of issues.

Long could have warned that Spellings was part of the good old boy network in Texas, with very deep roots in the Bush agenda, but lobbyists' forte is "getting along." The theory is you have to schmooze in order to peddle influence. Here is a
Washington Post
article on the explosion of the lobby industry.

Long is not the issue here. He is doing what he was hired to do.

At issue is the behavior of our professional organizations. They have practiced accommodation for entirely too long. And look where it has gotten us. Reading First is a crisis of professional behavior bordering on child abuse. We should be demanding action on the Inspector General's report, not lobbying for more taxpayer dollars to be dumped into it. For the sake of the children and our very professionalism, we need to demand that our professional organizations switch from lobbyism to activism. We need to act on principles of pedagogy, not public relations.

From: Rich Long
Sent: Thursday, November 01, 2007 6:39 AM
Subject: Reading First and Funding

I am writing to inform you that the House/Senate conference to decide on the funding of Reading First is scheduled to begin today, Thursday, November 1st. The House appropriators cut the funding level from $1billion to $400 million, the Senate to $800 million. Last year Reading First provided funds for over 100,000 teachers to participate in professional development activities. While we realize that in several states the IRA community has had significant disagreements with how Reading First has been implemented, we also know that most states haven't had those problems. We are also aware that the US Department of Education's Office of Inspector General has issued several reports highly critical of the US Department of Education and how it administered Reading First. IRA has been working with the US Department of Education to support the changes that they are making in the process of administering Reading First. We have been invited to attend meetings, been given copies of documents, and generally are seeing a much more open and above board process in how Reading First is being administered at the federal level. In addition, we have been talking with the state Reading First directors about Reading First and have again found the process to have significantly changed in most states.

When the House appropriators voted its deep cut to Reading First, they did so saying that they would restore the funds when the changes outlined by the Inspector General and agreed to by the US Department of Education we made in the legislation itself. We have been working with a member of Congress who has drafted legislative language and are expecting it to be added to the reauthorization of NCLB. Unfortunately, the funding is being decided on before NCLB is rewritten.

We are asking you to contact your Senator (202-224-3121) and ask them to support the $800 million spending mark for Reading First in order to continue reaching the teachers who need and deserve continued professional development resources.

If you have any questions or wish to give us feedback from your conversations, please feel free to contact us at 202 624-8800 or (rlong@reading.org).

To see the IRA position on Reading First please go to: http://www.reading.org/resources/issues/positions_reading_first.html

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Rich Long

— Rich Long


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