Education reforms are everything but
Arizona Republic
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.