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NCLB Outrages

Kennedy Releases Report on Reading First Investigation

Comment by Priscilla Gutierrez
Outreach Specialist
New Mexico School for the Deaf:

Ted Kennedy has just released a report based on his office's investigation into conflicts of interest with Reading First Technical Assistance Directors and the publishers they worked for. His report in no uncertain terms illustrates the for-profit mentality they had while Directors instead of the validity of "scientifically based" reading instruction. The link to the report is below.

Among the findings are that both Edward Kame'enui and Joseph Torgeson made over $500,000 in profits from publishers they had ties with (Scott Foresman, CTB McGraw Hill and Sopris) while working as Reading First Directors. Contracts with the publishers were entered into after they became Reading First Directors.

The original Inspector General Report stated most of Kame'enui's income came from textbook sales. Kennedy's report proves his and Torgeson's major source of income was from said publishers whom they "pushed" while approving grants for states. Torgeson was on the Reading First review panel to approve assessments and of course his own assessment got the gold seal of approval.

The link takes you to the press release for the report. On the right hand side of Kennedy's webpage are 3 PDF documents - one is the full report from his office and the other two are exhibits of email exchanges amongst various people involved in Reading First. Seems like the Department of Ed's equates scientifically based reading instruction with money in the pockets of the inner circle...

In one of the email exchanges that is part of the exhibits (see below) for the report, Carnine bemoans the fact that the bad press from the Reading First fallout could undermine his chat with Marion Joseph from CA and his chances for establishing a program in California.
Reid Lyon refers to it as witch hunt...

Sadly, nothing in Kennedy's report mentions prosecuting the culprits. Only that we need to have more stringent oversight to prevent future conflicts of interest...

17 page report details abuses in program
May 9, 2007


WASHINGTON, D.C.Ă¢€”Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a detailed report regarding the conflicts of interest found within the Reading First program. Kennedy has an ongoing investigation into the Reading First program.

Senator Kennedy said, "The findings in this report underscore the need for the Department of Education to ensure that contractors, subcontractors, and consultants are free from conflicts of interest. The goal of the Reading First program is to help students learn to read and gain the skills they need for success and a lifetime of learning. Those implementing this program and other federal education programs must put the interests of students and schools before profits and politics."

The report shows that four of the five Reading First Regional Technical Assistant directors had significant financial ties to education publishers while they held Reading First positions that required them advise and provide technical assistance to States and school districts about which reading programs to chose and how to implement them. The four individuals profiled in this report had substantial conflicts of interest that this report reveals may have improperly influenced their actions while they were under subcontract with the Department of Education.

Attached is the Report; two PDFs, (1) Exhibits 1-22 and (2) Exhibits 23-42, available upon request.

Press Contact

Melissa Wagoner (202) 224-2633

The Chairman's Report on the Conflicts of Interest Found in the Implementation of the Reading First Program at the Three Regional Technical Assistance Centers [pdf]

Reading FIrst Report Exhibits 1 [pdf]
Reading First Report Exhibits 2 [pdf]

— Sen. Edward Kennedy
Press Release


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