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Organizing Around Reading First

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Some 500 educators attending the National Reading First Conference here in Nashville this week have signed up for more information about a new national association that will push for legislation and policies based on the tenets of the federal program. State Reading First directors came up with the idea for the National Association for Reading First after learning about plans in Congress to eliminate the $1 billion-a-year grant program, according to Debora Scheffel, who directs the program in Colorado.

The organization will promote inclusion of Reading First principles in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, and work to disseminate information on research-based instruction and intervention.

The association's founders hope to sign up enough members—annual membership is $50—to help bolster their case that Reading First has a lot of support from the field.

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Their website contains a poll, inviting readers to vote on whether Reading First has positively or negatively impacted their district or school. Right now, the poll is running strongly AGAINST reading first, which must be annoying to the organizers of the group.
But: The poll is not scientific at all, and is easily influenced by special groups pumping in their votes. Right now, the results are against Reading First, but Reading First supporters have tremendous access to compliant voters (e.g. everybody working for McGraw-Hill, everyone working in a captive Reading First district - vote now or we lose our funding!) and can easily add thousands of votes supporting Reading First. (Of course I am sure that many who vote to support Reading First are sincere in their support. My point is that the results of these kinds of polls are always suspect.)

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