WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) -- The Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress plans investigations into allegations of conflicts of interest in U.S. President George Bush's Reading First program.
"The purpose of Reading First is to help schoolchildren learn to read, not feather the nests of a select group of well-connected individuals and organizations," said U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, which opens hearings on Friday.
Education Department Inspector General John Higgins has issued six reports detailing how the program's leaders and contractors looked the other way at possible conflicts of interest among advisers and others who wrote some of the textbooks. He also reported states and school districts had been "strong-armed" into choosing from a small selection of materials that stress phonics, USA Today reported.
Regardless, even critics of the program, including the Center on Education Policy, a Washington think tank, said in September the program was having "a significant impact" in schools, and a $30.5 million evaluation, begun in 2003 would show complete results next year.