Reading & Literacy

Commentary: Release Education to Free-Market Forces

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 03, 2009 1 min read

Reading First failed to have stellar results not because it favored a systematic use of phonics but because it was implemented by the federal government, argues Andrew J. Coulson over at Cato @ Liberty.

Coulson writes: “If we want schools around the country to continually adopt and refine the best methods available, we must create the freedoms and incentives that will cause that to happen… or get used to disappointment.”

Basically Coulson is saying you can’t trust the federal government to recommend “best practices” for reading, or education in general, because the government’s recommendations will always be subject to political winds.

Meanwhile, though he’s not advocating free-market forces, Eduflack is also expressing mistrust of the federal government’s handling of Reading First. He writes that the government didn’t adequately evaluate and share with the public information about whether Reading First dollars were spent effectively. And Eduflack sounds a warning that the federal government might not adequately monitor how money from the stimulus package is spent. “For many, relying on ED to measure the effectiveness of their own policies and their own spending is much like letting the fox guard the hen house,” he says.

Edufack applauds the Education Trust for stepping up to be a watchdog of how states are spending stimulus dollars for education.

Readers, do either of these bloggers’ opinions about Reading First strike a chord with you? If so, why?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.