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When A "Congressional Report" Is Not A Congressional Report


As I first pointed out two weeks ago, the Kennedy report on Reading First was not a "Congressional study" in the sense of something like CRS or the GAO would do, despite being described as such in the press. It was internal, and partisan from the start. The good folks at the Title I Monitor have dug into this further, exposing some of the report's problems. RL Colvin over at Early Stories thinks that's a good thing. I agree.


Anyone who can't see that it is a conflict of interest per se when someone like Edward Kame' ennui plays a key role advising the federal government on the rules governing the purchase of Reading First products and also has a significant financial interest in selling a product in the Reading First market from a contract he entered into with a publisher while he was playing that role, is ethically challenged.

(Imagine an aerospace engineer hired by the Department of the Air Force to play a central role developing the design rules governing the competion for a family of new fighter aircaft and the approval of such aircraft, who during that assignment went to an aircaft manufacturer offering to build an aircaft for that competition. Then imagine that engineer attending a lunch at a downtown Washington restaurant set up by that aircraft manufacturer between its' CEO and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Aquisition. Tell me - with a straight face - that everyone involved would not be sent packing from their jobs within 72 hours. Explain to me how or why the ethical bar over at Education should be lower than Defense - and I'm not confining that bar to law, but just common deecency, good management, reasonable stewardship, and a sense of fiduciary obligation).

The fact that Neuman didn't act to terminate Kame' ennui's contract may not make her look too bright, but it hardly excuses him. Kame' ennui is not a child and his emails certainly don't suggest he is a naif when it comes to the worlds of consulting, Washington policy, academia or publishing.

It's far more reasonable to assume that with his understanding even of the academic expeience in conficts management, Kame' ennui knew what he was doing was at the very least deserving of advice from counsel. After all we are talking about an income stream of around $100,000 per year from Pearson. And if he had, it's hard to believe any lawyer would have said what he was doing was a good idea without legal risk.

This is nothing less than disgusting. It is an incredibly sad day for this country when people are actually prepared to argue something that should be as clear as the nose on your face. See my May 12 posting at http://www.edbizbuzz.com/blog/_archives/2007/5/12/2945171.html

The Reading First issue is murkier than you make it out to be.

--1)it is not clear that Kame'enui made that deal during his tenure as TAC director

--2)The TAC directors played a very minimal role in selecting programs for states and districts

I agree it looks very bad. Kame'enui does look particularly sloppy. And it makes you wonder what we don't know about.

But based on what we do know, the quid pro quo is not as blatant as you make it out to be.

The appearance problem, however, is huge.

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