Reading First: A Mess, & A Shame

Andrew Brownstein and Travis Hicks of the Title I Monitor have written a pair of fascinating inside looks at the fallout that's taken place in the month since the OIG report on Reading First came out, including coverage of things like a "surreal" going away party for the program's director, conflicts of interest among reading experts, and findings suggesting many districts found RF helpful (Former RF Director Draws Fire — and Defenders, and ED Ignored Early Warnings on RF Conflicts, Report Says). Clearly, the story isn't as simple -- for or against -- as some have made it. But it's a mess, and a shame. Whatever the specifics, what a truly unfortunate time for a new round of the reading wars and questions about early intervention.

UPDATE: In last week's HotSeat, Richard Lee Colvin said Reading First is not a real story, but if that's true it's only so in the most narrow sense. What's happening with RF has and will affect reading instruction nationwide, as well as the future of NCLB.

UPDATE 2: This Washington Times commentary (Reading comes first) suggests that there's less wrong with Reading First than meets the eye and that the program should be expanded.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your statement, "Whatever the specifics, what a truly unfortunate time for a new round of the reading wars and questions about early intervention" suggests that questions are a bad thing. Not if you're teaching in a school that has had a program with a suspect research base (especially regarding ELL students) shoved down your throat (Open Court, for instance). What's missing from all this--and what has been missing from the beginning--is the voice of experienced reading teachers.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Bob Rothman said...


The Title I Monitor story about Doherty and his connections to DI is very interesting. I'm reminded of what happened to Bill Honig when he was state superintendent in California. As you may recall, Honig was charged with a conflict of interest for awarding a state contract to a firm that provided parent engagement programs, one that happened to employ Mrs. H. At the trial, Honig tried to offer witnesses who would testify to what a great program it was, but the judge refused to allow the testimony. The quality of the program didn't matter; only the conflict of interest did. And Honig was convicted and went to jail.

12:23 PM  

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