Education reforms are everything but
Oct. 14, 2006
The amazing report of the U.S. Department of Education inspector general
involving the Reading First portion of the No Child Left Behind enforcement
contains revelations that could void contracts Arizona and the other states have
signed with the Department of Education.
Though the inspector general only looked at implementation of Reading First, the
findings are equally true of the whole of NCLB. They found that the DOE
personnel deliberately obscured the requirements of NCLB, imposed conditions on
the states which are not in the act, were totally indifferent to blatant
conflicts of interest of persons appointed to panels reviewing state proposals,
that the review panels were illegally constituted, and that the DOE interfered
in the selection of curricula, texts and tests by states and school districts
illegally according the provisions of NCLB itself and the Department of
Education Authorizing Act (1979).
These revelations are only the tip of the iceberg. The Office of the Inspector
General has other reports pending and Congress is also investigating Reading
First and the rest of NCLB.
State Superintendent Tom Horne needs to expand the lawsuit he has filed against
the DOE. Just as it is clear that reading programs and tests were imposed on
Arizona and other states illegally, it is also clear that Education Secretary
Margaret Spellings and her staff have been capriciously and illegally imposing
conditions on the states for labeling schools as failing.
Schools and school districts should immediately reconsider their use of programs
such as McGraw Hill's Direct Instruction and tests such as DIBELS, which are
specifically cited in the OIG report as examples of illegal and flagrant
conflicts of interest in forcing them into schools.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB) is up for renewal for a second
seven-year period in the next Congress, and we need to know what those running
for Congress intend to do to punish those who are guilty and how they will undo
the damage already done. -Kenneth S. Goodman, Tucson The writer is professor
emeritus, University of Arizona Department of Language, Reading & Culture.