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Brandon author blasts Dept. of Education

The book, falling on the one side of the political divide over public education, condemns the processes and purposes used by the Vermont Department of Education in its application for the Reading First Grant, as it stands under the provisions of the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act. Through the federal Reading First program, states and districts receive support to apply scientifically based reading researchand the instructional and assessment tools consistent with this researchto ensure that children learn to read well by the end of third grade. The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, established Reading First as a new, high-quality evidence-based program for the students of America. Using the actual grant application, Ohanian compared the sources of information required by the U. S. Department of Education and those employed by the 1968 Vermont Department of Education that produced the Vermont Design for Education. At the Feb. 14 news conference, Ohanian reported what she calls the rigid, lock-step instructional system required by the grant and the visionary and child-friendly declarations of the design. Ohanian has problems with the NCLBs Reading First program; the program was twice investigated by Education Week. The author also cited a damning audit made by the inspector general; it claims that the U. S. Department of Education ignored the law and ethical standards and thus corrupted the application process. At the VSSE news conference, Ohanian said that in pursuit of federal tax dollars, this corrupt system has now been embraced by the Vermont Department of Education. VSSE members, with Ohanian front and center, questioned why the Vermont Department of education abandoned its historical practice of asking Vermont citizens what they wanted from their schools and instead participated enthusiastically in the corrupt process dictated by Reading First. Ohanian is a longtime teacher of grades 1 through 14. She is an Arizona State University Education Policy Research Unit fellow and has received various writing and education awards.

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