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Jewish World Review Feb. 23, 2001 / 30 Shevat, 5761

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Don’t fund dubious reading programs -- PRESIDENT Bush wants to spend $5 billion on federal literacy programs. Can you spell b-o-o-n-d-o-g-g-l-e?

Fiscal and social conservatives should be up in arms over this left-of-Clinton proposal. Why allow the federal government to take money from homeschoolers, stay-at-home parents, and others who teach their kids to read on their own time, and give it to public schools that squander the funds on half-baked remedial reading programs?

Not that it makes this redistributionist scheme any more palatable, but the Bush administration promises to support only "scientifically-based reading instruction" progams that ensure all children are reading by the end of 3rd grade. It’s not a very reassuring pledge when you take a closer look at the program President Bush endorsed this week at the Moline Elementary School in St. Louis County, Mo.

Bush selected Moline because it participates in the "Success for All" reading program. Launched in Baltimore in 1987, Success For All has spread to more than 1,800 schools – including those in New York City, Memphis, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston, Montgomery, Ala., Modesto, Calif., and Clarke County, Ga. Pupils are grouped by reading level rather than grade, and 90 minutes are set aside each day for reading.

Success for All is billed by its founders as "one of the greatest success stories of educational research and reform." But the fine print doesn’t support the claims.

The "success" of Success For All has been documented in a number of studies by Robert Slavin and Nancy Madden of Johns Hopkins University, and by other researchers affiliated with their educational research center. Slavin also happens to be the reading program’s co-developer, number-one cheerleader, and lead fund-raiser. Though bias can be overcome by well-designed, peer-reviewed research, the conflicts of interest and incentives to rig results are huge.

Stanley Pogrow, an independent education researcher at the University of Tuscon, points out in the education journal Phi Delta Kappan that in 1999, "Slavin's research center, which was originally funded for $27 million, was re-funded for another five years for $36.5 million without competition." The center and a related foundation secured additional federal grants worth $23 million over the next five years, and sales of Success For All materials were projected to be $44 million in 2000.

Pogrow concluded in a peer-reviewed study that Slavin misrepresented Success For All’s achievements in Baltimore, the program’s flagship district, by "selectively citing data from some of the tests used for a subset of students in 1 of the 1,100 schools that have been used in the program." University of Delaware researcher Richard Venezky concluded that "Not only is the average SFA student failing to reach grade-level performance by the end of grade three, but even with further SFA instruction, continues to fall farther behind national norms."

Rebecca C. Greenberg and Herbert J. Walberg of the University of Illinois at Chicago concluded in a separately published journal article that "Contrary to the promise of its title and its expressed goal of at or near grade level performance, children participating in SFA fall increasingly behind national norms the longer they are in the program." In Florida’s Dade and Putnam Counties, independent evaluations found no difference in academic performance – or worse, lower test scores – when comparing Success For All students with other students. San Antonio’s SFA schools also found "no overall effect on school performance." New Jersey and Memphis reported similar results.

Slavin and his supporters rebut critics by suggesting Success For All wasn’t "implemented properly" – and that success would be achieved if only they had more government funding. That’s the same old junk-science racket education researchers have been playing for decades, resulting in the same old dismal failures.

Pinellas Park Elementary School teacher Fred Roemer, a vocal skeptic of Success For All in Florida, told me this week that if President Bush "doesn’t look carefully at the programs he’s endorsing, it could be a big waste of money." The White House needs to do its homework. Success For All is a classic lesson in fiscal irresponsibility and educational malpractice.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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02/14/01: Torricelli turns on his friends
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02/07/01: In search of honorable men
02/05/01: Ally McBeal’s trophy baby
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01/22/01: Look who supports AmeriCorps
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01/15/01: What America owes me
01/10/01: Temptation and trash TV
01/05/01: Cop-haters welcome in Hollywood
01/02/01: Ignoring a hate crime in D.C.
12/26/00: Use ultrasound to combat abortion
12/26/00: Pardon Clinton? Just say no!
12/21/00: Smacking down free speech
12/18/00: Brace yourselves for Floridation
12/14/00: Blame enviros for electric mess
12/11/00: UNICEF's deadly mission
12/06/00: The Amish vs. the feds
12/04/00: Downey and the Drug War
11/29/00: Let the sun shine on the Supremes
11/22/00: Peace prize for a murderer?
11/20/00: Baby Boom parents are asleep on the job
11/15/00: Fog horns of the Fourth Estate
11/10/00: Who cares about election fraud now?
11/08/00: Ms. Houston, you have a problem
11/03/00: The Million Mom Murmur
11/01/00: GOP revolutionaries head for the hills
10/27/00: My impeachment referendum
10/25/00: Gore’s Good Daddy Gambit
10/23/00: Tribulations of a dubious 'tribe'
10/20/00: Pharmaceutical butchers of Beijing
10/16/00: How the West was seized
10/12/00: Fight the anti-pesticide pests
10/10/00: Moochers at the multiplex
10/05/00: Pay for your own day care
10/02/00: Not every senior demands a handout
09/27/00: Racial hype at the Olympics
09/25/00: Watch the other Washington
09/20/00: Textbook case of media arrogance
09/18/00: New York: Land of medical pork
09/13/00: Voices from the womb
09/11/00: No cure for generational pain
09/08/00: Notes on a West Coast wilding
09/06/00: Race matters at Washington Post
09/01/00: For those who labor 24/7
08/28/00: There's something about Rudy
08/25/00: A conservative case against Napster
08/22/00: Death Row Marv mocks justice
08/18/00: The party of Maxine Waters
08/14/00: "Make-A-Wish" shoots down dreams
08/10/00: Who will stop Bill Lann Lee?
08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
07/31/00: Hey, GM: Build cars, not quotas
07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
06/23/00: Kids in a public school daze
06/21/00: Fed up with Fannie and Freddie
06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
06/16/00: Dads, daughters, and PETA's spoilsports
06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2001, Creators Syndicate