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Lessons From Reading First: No One Cares About Local Control Anymore

By Alexander Russo — February 21, 2007 1 min read

Fresh off of his appearance in Hot For Education last week, former Reading First czar Chris Doherty is back in the news. EdWeek (E-Mails Reveal Federal Reach Over Reading) focuses on the extent of the intrusiveness in RF and the historic ban on federal meddling in local decisions.

The Title I Monitor details his close relationship with reading guru Reid Lyon, who is interviewed in the piece about his role and what happened (“Reading Czar” Served as Conduit Between ED, White House).

What jumps out at me when I try and figure out why these Reading First stories never make it to the national level -- I’m talking Good Morning America here -- is that the notion of protecting local control over education decisions is pretty much dead. Sure, as the EdWeek story points out, there’s long been a federal ban on meddling with curriculum. And I’m not saying that RF and Doherty were right. But after Goals 2000 and NCLB and all the rest, local control is mostly a fig leaf in the minds of most non-educators at this point, isn’t it?

If that’s the case, as it may be, then the only thing I can think of that would make RF a national story is perhaps a love triangle between Doherty, Lyon, and former deputy Sandi Jacobs (now at NCTQ). Or maybe I’m wrong and it will keep bubbling up.

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