Too Good to Last: The True Story About Reading First
The controversy surrounding the implementation of the federal Reading First program—which led to a series of audits and investigations and a slashing of its budget—was more the result of political games and unsubstantiated complaints by “aggrieved vendors” than any wrongdoing, concludes a paper by Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a New York City-based think tank.
Many of the problems the program faced in ensuring grantees followed its strict requirements resulted from a softening of the original policy language, the political savvy of publishers who did not reap the financial benefits they had anticipated from the $1 billion-a-year initiative, and a media frenzy around a series of highly critical reports by the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general, Mr. Stern says.
The inspector general concluded that federal officials and contractors involved with the program appeared to favor certain commercial texts and tests and to have financial conflicts associated with those products.
A version of this article appeared in the March 12, 2008 edition of Education Week