Beating The [Expletive Deleted] Out Of Phonicsgate

Per this post on this Reading First fiasco, a couple more points from big to smaller:

First, it’s a shame that this is being seen as a proxy referendum on the issue of reading research. There was at last a bipartisan consensus around some key points and this IG report (pdf) is allowing and emboldening the flat-earthers to again assert themselves as having research evidence on their side. In fact, that’s the irony here. The Bush Administration had a very strong hand to play in terms of ensuring that this funding only supported programs with a solid grounding in methodologically rigorous research, yet they overplayed that hand. And in doing so they likely hurt the very issue they wanted to help by reigniting the debate about reading research.

Second, yes, Chris Doherty is being unfairly thrown over the side as the fall guy.* The idea that his actions were unsanctioned or that he was a lone evil genius is absurd. More than a year ago, Eduwonk said, think Seinfeld…well…Hello Neuman….a lot of the Houston folks pointing at her and there are a lot of chefs in this kitchen besides Doherty. Still, mistakes were made, as they say.

Third, and related, how long can Education Secretary Margaret Spellings get away with this strategy of feigning ignorance about anything that happened pre-2004? It’s not like she wasn’t in government, or in an influential position no less, during that time.

Fourth, while some of the stuff in the IG report isn’t really all that damning, the defense being mounted by the Houston-mafia via an op-ed that is unpublished but has widely made the rounds among policy and media types, essentially arguing that results not process should matter, is pretty weak. We are ultimately a nation of laws and while burdensome procedures should be changed, federal officials don’t get a pass on ones they don’t like. That’s a lesson this administration has had a really hard time learning…

Fifth, everyone is looking for a money scandal pay-to-play just conflict of interest. I doubt there is too much there though. I think this was more about ideology than anything else.

*And that is setting off a new and intense round of the fight between the Houston (Paige) and Austin (Spellings) folks.

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