(Also be sure to check out the new Advocate. Good reading. Lots of important stuff.)
Basically this is a short recapitlation of the reports noted here a couple of weeks ago. The last few paragraphs give a flavor of what's going on...
The No Child Left Behind Act, which authorized Reading First, was bound to give a competitive edge to offerings that most closely reflected the program’s tenets, said Robert W. Sweet Jr., who helped write the Reading First legislation as a senior staff member for the Republican-led House Education and the Workforce Committee. He recently left his government post to return to the National Right to Read Foundation, an organization that promotes phonics instruction.
“All of these things are commercially driven,” Mr. Sweet said, referring to initiatives to improve education. “There are some people, some groups, some universities who have been involved in trying to promote research-based education long before the Reading First program came about,” and may have had an advantage.
But Susan B. Neuman, the former assistant secretary of education responsible for the Reading First program’s launch, said that she and others working on the $1 billion-a-year initiative had hoped it would open up the marketplace to new and innovative reading programs reflecting the latest research on how children learn to read. Instead, she said, Reading First led to tinkering with commercial products that had been around for years.And more money for publishers with connections.