September 25, 2006

How to Tell if the OIG Report is a Legitimate Scandal

1. Was any legitimate SBRR reading program precluded by DoE in any State's RF application? If, in fact, any research validated reading program, such as Open Court or Success for All, was precluded there is the makings of a real scandal. If a un-validated phonics program that sufficiently mimicked a SBRR reading program was excluded there is a possibility that it there is a scandal depending on the actual research on the program and how well it claimed to be based on research.

What is not a legitimate scandal is if a balanced literacy/whole language was precluded funding. In the absence of legitimate research, this is the wolf in sweep's clothing scenario. These programs do an excellent job claiming to be phonics based and consistent with the research, but, in fact, they are not. It is good government to aggressively preclude these programs. These programs have recourse in the courts if they think they can exploit a loophole in the law.

2. Was a SBRR reading program unduly forced on a state that didn't want to include it in its RF approved programs? It doesn't count if DoE insisted that the state restrict its selection to one of the few SBRR reading programs out there and refused to permit non-SBRR programs.

That's all I can think of. Everything else is just typical sloppy government and lurid innuendo. We need a lot more facts to determine if either of these two scenarios took place because there is nothing in the OIG audit that suggests that this is what in fact happened.

What most likely happened is that many states tried to get RF funding for non-SBRR reading programs and didn't like it when DoE balked. Hello? This is why we have a reading crisis. So far no curriculum publisher or state has come forward with such claims and I don't suspect they will. Slavin has come forward with unsubstantiated allegations and the fact that SfA has been approved in 28 states seems to belie those allegations. Getting approved under RF is not the same thing as having a school district adopt your reading program.

3 comments:

Eric said...

K-

Any reason not to train teachers to evaluate efficacy of curriculum and professional development? Is it asking too much for teachers to spot fraud, waste, and abuse when direction comes down from on high? I'd rather see a teacher-initiated boycott than states and local boards dependent upon Washington's judgement.

SteveH said...

"Any reason not to train teachers to evaluate efficacy of curriculum and professional development?"


You mean the efficacy of their own opinion? This training will come from Ed Schools? The problem is just those pesky administrators and politicians? This sounds like the "all we need are good teachers" approach to education.

However, I don't hold out much hope for government forcing schools to do what they really don't want to do. The solution is not top-down management, but bottom-up school choice. If some parents want to send their kids to fuzzy, constructivist, child-centered learning environments, then I'm all for giving them that choice. What I don't want are "educators" who feel qualified or justified to impose their opinion-based ideas of education and social justice on everyone, all in the name of public education.

SteveH said...

And another point.

In our paper today, our town's public schools were once again rated as "High Performing" on the state's (education administration selected) tests. The upper school (grades 5-8) also got a commendation! This is spite of the fact that the only math class offered in 8th grade is an algebra-lite class about which many parents have complained over the years.

Top-down government-imposed criteria are a last gasp attempt to force some minimal level of accountability on schools. It may help in many cases, but these low standards will then become the most that these schools will ever achieve.

There may be no guarantees for school choice, but there are no limits.