Rainbow over Galileo Lane, Tucson

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where was George Bush on 911 and whY?

NCLB, 911 and Ken Goodman  

 Here’s a trivia question: Where was George Bush, the younger, on the morning of September 11, 2001?  And what was he doing there?   Which is not the same question as ,  Why was he there?
Where was he? In an inner city second grade reading a story written by Sigfried (Ziggy) Engelmann for his Mastery Learning Program

Why was he there/ thereby hangs a tale.
It’s a tale of Karl Rove, Margaret Spelling, Sandy Kress, Reid Lyon, Laura Bush and a few others who advised George Bush using a plan that Karl Rove had devised that had worked well in Texas to frame his conservative agenda  as compassionate conservative by “reform” of the teaching of reading the major goal of his first term agenda. It had the benefit of coopting democrat s who could not be seen as against educational reform. And it could even make minority groups who were not served well think he was on their side.
If Bush used this “reform” of reading as his central focus as he had in Texas he could then portray the rest of his conservative agenda  as compassionate reform. He would then be able to use the “reading wars” to portray himself as the savior of liitle children from the evil of whole language and be champion of phonics . Though Margret Spelling said we won’t call it phonics we’ll call it Scientifically Based Reading instruction and we’ll make that the focus of your first term.

Bush brought the black Football coach turned Houston School Superintendent to Washington as Secretary of education and would send him around the country to preside over grand rallies whipping  up support for NCLB.  Kress, Lyon and Robert Sweet (of right wing National RIght to Read Foundation) had rewritten the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to now be called No Child Left Behind. And Scientific Based Reading Research occurs many times throughout that document. Note that NCLB promised to make every child reading at grade level by 2014. Though NCLB is still the law of the land  Congress has never refunded it or reconsidered it after scathing reports of conflicts of interest by the DOE Inspector General and independent evaluaters writing that 6 billion dollars had been spent with no results.

Bush would announce NCLB to the press  in that classroom on Sept 9 2001.
In a book published in 2004, a Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush The author(Ronald Kessler) lays out this plan In interviews with all of those cited above interwoven with an extensive interview with (I kid you not) Ken Goodman.

In Chapter 7 (Dick and Jane) and chapter 10 (Why Johnny Still Can’t read) I am liberally quoted (pun intended) to provide comic relief and to lay out the premises of the campaign. Ken Goodman says “ What we’re doing is turning our schools into drill camps for  testing”. Laura Bush says ,”If you’re teaching to the test you are teaching what you want children to know.”

It goes on like that, I’m quoted and then Karl Rove responds, “People say “Don’t drill”. “What they’re saying is you don’t need to sound out a word or know its meaning. I say how can that make sense to anybody”.

Finally, Margaret Spellings says: “ I don’t know why Ken Goodman was put on this planet, but I don’t think it’s to teach kids to read.”

Perhaps that's  a good title for my next book.