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ERIC Number: EJ796152
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
The Reading First Controversy: Promises and Perils of Federal Leadership
Barbash, Shepard
Education Next, v8 n3 p47-53 Sum 2008
"Reading First is the most effective federal program in history." So reads the opening line of a report that Alabama superintendent of education Joseph Morton sent to his congressional delegation last June, in which he recounts how the program has raised reading achievement for poor students in his charge. Morton's view is shared by leaders in many other states, where thousands of Reading First elementary schools have reported significant progress closing the "literacy gap" among the poor. And yet a string of ironies plagues Reading First, threatening its future at the height of its promise. The program is the only component of No Child Left Behind to be rated "effective" by the White House Office of Management and Budget, yet the administration has done little to protect it. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings calls it "the most effective and successful reading initiative in the nation's history," yet she removed its two leaders from their jobs. It is the one part of the No Child Left Behind law educators say they like, yet it has been targeted for deep cuts in funding. Its prescriptive approach would seem easy fodder for Republicans to attack, yet Democrats in Congress have led the assault against it. A glance at education headlines suggests that Reading First has succumbed to the fallout from "scandal." In this article, the author contends that the true story, however, is that the program is a victim of its own high standards. It's a federal program that appears to be working to change the way states and schools teach reading--and change never comes without conflict. (Contains 1 figure.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Washington
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001