But I felt silly seeing it this way. These are professionals; I’m just taking my critical University of Chicago perspective and applying it in the wrong context, I told myself. I wrote one of my senior theses on McCarthyism and it had biased my views. We’re all on the same side here. We’re all working for a common goal: success for our students.
Apparently, I was right to be suspicious and wrong to assume a level of professionalism of my policy colleagues. According to the Inspector General’s report, there was, in fact, a vast Direct Instruction conspiracy who viewed Whole Language instruction as educational heresy, one step short of polygamist idol worship. They were, in fact, in charge of granting enormous and irresistible sums of reading monies. Allow me to quote a few emails from the Reading First director, the federal chief in charge of disbursing billions of federal dollars.
First, in reply to a query about stacking the panels with pro-DI experts: “‘Stack the panel?’...I have never *heard* of such a thing....
Second, in reply to a query about why the panels are stacked: “You know the line from Casablanca, ‘I am SHOCKED that there is gambling going on in this establishment!’ Well, ‘I am SHOCKED that there are pro-DI people on this panel!’”
Last, on the attempts of non-Direct Instruction programs to be included in the federal grants, where the congressional mandate said that no curricular bias should exist. Notice the high-minded focus on students’ success and learning.
Beat the [expletive deleted] out of them in a way that will stand up to any level of legal and [whole language] apologist scrutiny. Hit them over and over with definitive evidence that they are not SBRR, never have been and never will be. They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the [expletive deleted] out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags.
It’s like Christmas, back when Santa could read my mind. I couldn’t have imagined any better (though in this case, worse) than it already is.
Ironically, however, today marked the first visit to my school by our district’s new consultants, a team very closely tied with, you guessed it, Reading First. Did these shocking revelations change anything? Not a bit. Admittedly, I don’t expect them to change the curriculum just because it was adopted under unethical, possibly illegal, circumstances. But it’d be reasonable to back down a little from their ideological fervor. Instead, what is their answer to our school’s problems? Be more faithful to the curriculum. It’s like someone espousing a war after it’s been proven to them that no cause for it exists. Oh. Wait. I guess the fish stinks from the head down.