Yesterday, I read an article in the Washington Post that said that the Justice Department is conducting a probe of a $6 billion reading initiative at the center of NCLB on allegations of financial conflicts -- meaning people on the committee chose their own programs despite weak or non existant research on the capabilities of those programs (DIBELS among them).
"That sounds like a criminal enterprise to me," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House education committee."
Also in the course of the article (linked above) is this quote: "Despite the controversy surrounding Reading First's management, the percentage of students in the program who are proficient on fluency tests has risen about 15 percent, Education Department officials said. School districts across the country praise the program."
Eh? Which districts? Those who are too scared of having their funding cut off to be honest? In the libraries and halls of our schools, one hears a different story.
NCLB is criminal on so many different levels, it's hard to narrow it down to just the issue of financial gain for the Reading First comittee. Please see the email I received a couple weeks ago from another poet taking the poetry into schools, Charles Waters.
I just had to e-mail you to tell you this story that happened to me on Tuesday. So I'm in the library in the poetry section when I meet this 9th grader who is trying to find "Romeo and Juliet" for a book report that's due by Friday. When I asked him why he waited so long to start doing research on the play he said "She gave us the assignment yesterday." I thought immediately to standardized testing I guessed to myself that the teacher is rushing to get through the curriculum so quickly to get ready for the test that there's no time to actually teach the material thoroughly. The kid told me he tried to read the play but found it all to be "jibber jabber." There was no Spark Notes or No Fear Shakespeare or any books in the library that I felt could help him understand the material better and suggested he go to the librarian for help; but he said she was busy and just pointed him in the direction of where a copy of the play was at. I then suggested going to the bookstore to get the Spark Notes or No Fear books (by this time his father arrived on the scene) and by the look on his face he didn't have either the money or inclination to go Barnes and Noble which was practically across the street to get the book or books needed. I asked the kid (whose name I'm sorry I didn't ask) if they do in fact do standardized testing at his school and he said yes they what's called the F-CAT or something like that and he had to take it soon. If I had had the money I would have bought to books for him myself. I was so frustrated that I needed to rant to someone who would understand this and I thought of you because I'm a loyal reader of your blog and know you've seen these kind of things up close and would understand. I'm mad at our current administration for their ignorance knowing that one of the main causes for this, I'm disappointed in the librarian for not helping this child out more with his problem and I'm highly distressed that this poor teacher is having to rush his or her lesson plans and as a result the students are suffering academically and emotionally, it breaks my heart and I don't know what to do about it. Any thoughts? Thanks for reading my rant, I feel better having wrote it and god bless poetry forever.
All the best,