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NCLB Outrages

In Praise of Reading First

Proceed at your own risk. This is a full force defense of Scientific Reading. It is interesting to see how these folk feel President Bush betrayed them:

During his first term,
President Bush visited the
reading scientists at the
NIH. He congratulated
them for helping to lift
reading achievement in the
nation’s schools. But after
publication of the OIG
report, the president became
almost mute about his own
reading initiative.

More about Sol Stern here. And here. And here.

Here Stephen Krashen handily rebuts Stern.

True Story of Reading First by Sol Stern, Foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli, published by Thomas B. Fordham Institute, March 2008

13 Reading Science and Reading Wars
17 Designing Reading First
20 From Gold to Silver
22 The Backlash
28 Media Frenzy
31 Shark Bait
35 CONCLUSION: Let Reading First Be Reading First

From the Foreword:
So we sought out one of the most effective
truth-tellers we know, Sol Stern, to put this
tragic tale into plain English. He has been writing
for the Manhattan Institute’s respected City
Journal for a dozen years, focusing on education
reform primarily through the lens of New York
City’s public schools, which his own children
attended. Stern also contributes to Education
Next, on whose editorial team we both serve, so
we knew about his tenacity, his ability to clarify
complex material, and his passion for getting
the story right. He agreed to dive into this
swamp and figure out what really happened
to Reading First.

From the Conclusion:
Perhaps it’s not too late for Congress to reconsider.
As with Maryland superintendent Nancy
Grasmick, who says that “the results [from
Reading First] are stunning” and that “we have
all of the data to support that,” thousands of education
officials, administrators and teachers
from all over the country would gladly come to
Washington to describe to Congressmen Miller
and Obey the promising turnaround in classroom
reading instruction that has begun in their
states and districts, a turnaround that will be undermined
unless the two-thirds cut in Reading
First funds is restored. As the GAO report has
shown, this large, prescriptive, federal program
has been a veritable 5,000 school love-fest.
The educators in those districts and schools are
not interested in whether the program’s first executive director sent out a couple of inappropriate
emails. They are focused on the big prize –
the hope that U.S. schools will finally accomplish
something that should not be beyond the
resources and ingenuity of the world’s leading
industrialized nation: teaching children to read
proficiently by fourth grade. Their message to
Congress is to let Reading First be Reading First.

Read the full screed here. (pdf file)

— Sol Stern
Thomas B. Fordham Institute


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