April 4, 2008

Reid Lyon Smacks Down Bob Slavin

Ed News is running a weeklong series of lengthy interviews (part one, part two, part three) with Reid Lyon, former chief of NICHD, on the Reading First "scandal." Lyon spends a great deal of time laying the smackdown on Bob Slavin who initially instigated the investigation and concludes.

To repeat myself, I have been disappointed that no respected education researcher, policy researcher, or Department of Education entity has fully dissected Slavin's allegations, identified all the evidence he used to support each allegation, and then examined the strength of that evidence in supporting the accusations. No doubt, this is tedious work but it must be done and preferably by a number of independent individuals and entities. As I am carrying out my own research on the veracity of the "evidence" I have been surprised at the amount of scandal mongering based, as best as I can identify, on back-fence gossip, and hearsay. I am hopeful that those who have generated the accusations against individuals and the Reading First program will step forward and provide objective evidence that the allegations are valid.I cannot find any evidence of illegal or unethical behavior in the massive amount of emails between the Reading First office and state and district Reading First officials. Nor can I find any evidence of this in the emails I am reviewing between the TACs and publishers/vendors, and Reading First state and district officials. To me, identifying the actual evidence of any wrongdoing is essential if we are going to improve a program beyond putting in place safeguards against the perception of conflicts of interest – don't get me wrong - these safeguards are critical. Evidence needs to be provided that identifies the instances when illegalities were actually committed.And when this evidence is presented, it needs to be reported under oath. In short, the record must be set straight.

I don't think this is necessary. The OIG reports were famously silent as to any of Slavin's accusations and no actual evidence was ever adduced which supported his accusations.

Finally, there appears to be an internet first, a comment by Zig Engelmann (assuming it's really him:)

Lyon’s position about Chris Doherty is solid. Chris was butchered and broiled not because he did anything questionable, unethical, or self-serving but because he was a convenient target. Chris is a man of high character; he’s very smart; and he’s a doer, not a political goon. I found Lyon’s coverage both interesting and consistent with what facts I know about this neo-McCarthy witch hunt that served the hunters, but at a serious cost to Chris and the kids he was trying very hard to serve.

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