from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How NCLB enriches Bush cronies and others 

I hope that title got your attention!!.

There is brand new report showing how the implementation of NCLB enriches for-profit organizations, many with a close connection to George W Bush.  The entire report, which has an executive summary of 5 pages and with footnotes is perhaps another 50 pages, may be downloaded in PDF from for free from here.  Thus if your are already convinced of the importance of the report, you can download and skip the rest of this diary.

If not, you can go below to read the press release on the report.   I will then offer some comments of my own, with some details I have extracted, and one brief snippet (typed btw, not cut and paste) from the conclusion.

Here's the press release as I received it (with phone #s and emails xxx'ed out  --  you can go to the website for the document if you want that information).



Education Policy Research Unit (EPRU)


NCLB Funds Enrich For-Profit Companies, Study Says

Contact: Gerald Bracey (703) XXX-XXXX (email) XXXXXX@XXXXX.net or Alex

Molnar (XXX) XXX-XXXX (email) XXXX@asu.edu

Tempe, Ariz. (Tuesday, June 21, 2005)- No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) funds flow from the government, through the states, and into the hands of private,

for-profit companies, according to "No Child Left Behind: Where Does the Money Go?" a policy brief released by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University.

The brief's author, Gerald Bracey, finds that the money schools and districts spend on implementing NCLB requirements and on sanctions for failing to meet NCLB achievement goals are funneled mostly to private companies in the testing, curriculum, and Supplemental Education Services (SES) industries.  Some of these companies have close ties to President George W. Bush and his family.  In addition, Bracey says testing companies and SES providers are rarely held to the same level of accountability that NCLB demands of public schools.

"It is clear that several billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent each year and it is equally clear that, at present, no real process of accountability is in place to monitor where the money is spent or how effectively it is spent," Bracey wrote.  "History shows that under such conditions money is wasted and fraudulent expenditures are likely."

Through an analysis of the essential workings of NCLB, highlighting inherent costs of the law and costs that come with each successive year of failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), this brief found the following:

--According to a Government Accounting Office study, NCLB funds cover only the cost of testing all Title I students on a multiple-choice format.  If a district or state wants to test all schools (not just Title I schools) or include open-ended questions, costs would exceed revenue.

--Reading First, a $1 billion a year federally funded primary reading program, requires states to apply for funds.  The states' proposed programs must pass a panel of experts, many of whom have authored approved Reading

First curriculum materials.  States use a narrow range of criteria to approve their Reading First grants to districts, the criteria favoring programs authored by some of those who also wrote the criteria.

--President Bush's ties with Harold McGraw III of McGraw-Hill (a testing and textbook publishing company), lobbyist Sandy Kress, and researchers-turned-appointees have caused conflicts of interest and the appearance of an "interlocking directorate."

--After the second consecutive year of failing to make AYP, students are given the choice to transfer to a "successful" school, and the transportation costs are to be paid by the "failing" school.  This school-choice option has not worked as envisioned, and few students have transferred.

--After the third consecutive year of failing to make AYP, schools are expected to offer Supplemental Education Services (SES).  More than 1,800 companies have their name on various state SES approved-provider lists. Twenty-three of the 25 most listed SES providers are for-profit companies.

--Unlike public schools, SES companies are not required to hire "highly-qualified" teachers.

--SES companies are not held to the level of accountability expected of public schools because U.S. Department of Education officials have said they want "as little regulation [of SES providers] as possible so the market [for SES] can be as vibrant as possible."  It is unknown if these services

increase student achievement.

Bracey calls on the U.S. Department of Education to establish policies and procedures to account for the money and to hold private companies to the same standards of accountability which it demands of public schools.

Find this document on the web at:



Gerald Bracey, Associate Professor

George Mason University



Alex Molnar, Professor and Director

Education Policy Studies Laboratory




Let me offer a few notes beyond what appears in the press release (and executive summary).

Bracey's report is an excellent primer on many details about NCLB  -- it helps if you know how the law actually works when it comes to imposing penalties, and how the structure of requirements has been a gold-mine for certain businesses, many of whom have long-time connections with George W. Bush.

You will read about Harold McGraw Jr., head of the eponymous firm, a man who likes to give "awards" in education, one of which just happened to go to Rod Paige (and by now everyone should know how phony the Houston "Mriacle" actually was).

You will of course read about lawyer Sandy Kress, about whom I have blogged before here.

You will read about Edward Rust, Jr., chair of the Business Round Table's Educationa Rask Force.  What else?   He's a Board member of McGraw Hill (hmm, overlapping cronyism) and he served as a member of the Bush transition team.  

Voyager was owned by a guy named Randy Best who -- after NCLB increased its value -- sold it for $380 million.  It employed a number of people who had prior contacts with GWB.  

There are other concerns that Bracey brings to light.  Let me list a few, some of which was discussed in the press release.  NCLB requires schools to use highly qualified teachers, but no such requirement exists for thoes vendors who get certified to provide SES in cases where the test scores mean the school is not making the necessary Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).

Some of the money provided from tax revenues to these vendors can be used by the vendors to bribe the children.  Let me explain.  The vendors only get paid if children show up for the tutoring.  In New York, they are not allowed to pay bonuses to sign children up for tutoring, but they MAY pay the students who have signed up to show up.  This is money that in no way is going towards instruction or helping the students academically, although it may provide a very small amount of financial relief to the families.  However, Princeton Review [disclosure -- I did SAT prep for them for 3 years in the 1990s] gives the students vouchers that may be redeemed for things such as MP3 players.

BTW, most of the approved providers appearing on state lists are for-profit entities:  according to Bracey, only 2 of the 25 most frequently appearing are non-profit.  By the way, this figures are the result of a survey taken BEFORE the US DOE ruled that SYSTEMS in need of improvement could not themselves provide (directly or through contractual arrangements) SES.  The total list of providers bracey found included 14 colleges and universities, 15 faith-based organizations (!!!), 32 private online companies and 231 private for-profit organizations.

Let me quote from the Conclusion, because it makes the case as bluntly as it can be:

    Looking at the consequences of failing to meet the requirements of NCLB over differing periods of time on is struck by two things:

    -  The large sum of money that flows through states and districts into private coffers, especially to those coffers politically close to the Bush administration


    -  The stunning double standard of feet-to-the-fire treatment of public schools contrasted with the lax treatment of private corporations that provide materials or services the law requires the schools to use.

Bracey notes that there estimates that the annual cost of test development will be $2.29 billion by 2006, and the potential revenue from the adoption of Reading First could reach an annula amount of $1.1 Billion.

Folks, this report WILL be attacked by the educational right-wing.  After all, Checker Finn of Fordham Foundation even refused to appear on a stage at George Mason U if Bracey were going to be present.  But for those who understand how important a POLITICAL issue education is, print out this report, mark it up, and make others aware of its content.

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