Archive for April 23rd, 2007

Seed Newsvine

I am saddened for the nation as I watch the president hunker down in his last months in office. He announced that in spite of the increased deadly bombings in Iraq that the troop surge is working and all we need is a bit more patience. He has increased confidence in Alberto Gonzalez in spite of bipartisan calls for his resignation. Sounds like the last days of the Nixon White House; living in a state of denial is not good for the country nor for this president. Frankly, we deserve better.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday rejected calls to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying Gonzales’ testimony at a stormy congressional hearing last week “increased my confidence” in him.
Bush said Gonzales showed critical lawmakers that the attorney general “broke no laws” in firing eight U.S. attorneys last year despite suspicions that the ousters may have been politically motivated.
Later, Gonzales told reporters at the Federal Trade Commission that he intends to remain the chief U.S. law enforcement officer “as long as I think that I can be effective and the president believes that I should continue.”
Gonzales, who has maintained the firings were justified but mishandled, added, “I have accepted responsibility for the mistakes that I have made.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat helping lead an investigation into the dismissals of eight of the 93 U.S. attorneys, was outraged.

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Seed Newsvine

While the DoED is praising the outcomes of Reading First through an internally funded study, the House Education and Labor Committee is investigating potentially criminal behavior at the DoED surrounding Reading First.

Rep. Miller scolded Mr. Doherty at one point.

“Was your mantra, ‘Mistakes were made’?” Rep. Miller said. “You don’t get to override the law because you’re turning the law into a program.”

Mr. Doherty responded: “We thought then, and we think now, we did abide by the law.”

The hearing was the first of two that are expected in Congress in the wake of reports by the Education Department inspector general and the Government Accountability Office that found federal officials had mismanaged the program.

“We found that the department obscured the requirements of the statute by inappropriately including or excluding standards in the application criteria,” Mr. Higgins told the committee.

Ms. Lewis noted that one of the consultants providing assistance during the grant-review process had financial ties to the assessment, the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, or DIBELS. Kentucky was asked to revise its Reading First grant proposal three times.

“We were repeatedly advised to replace our current assessment tool with DIBELS,” Ms. Lewis said.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the education committee, has introduced legislation that would require the Education Department and its contractors to screen Reading First peer reviewers for potential conflicts of interest, among other provisions.

Rep. McKeon was much less hostile to the witnesses connected to the Reading First program than Mr. Miller and some of the other committee Democrats.

“I want to thank you for your service,” he said. “I’ve been here almost 15 years, and I’ve seen a lot of people get crucified, and I’m really getting sick of it.”

But after hearing some four hours of testimony about alleged missteps and wrongdoing in the implementation of the federal program, Rep. Miller said he would consider making his own request for a criminal investigation.

“I think this process was cooked from the very beginning,” he said.

clipped from www.edweek.org

“We found that the department obscured the requirements of the statute by inappropriately including or excluding standards in the application criteria,” Mr. Higgins told the committee.
The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Education has referred some of the information gathered in a lengthy audit of the Reading First program to federal law-enforcement officials for further investigation, he said during a lengthy and contentious hearing today before the House Education and Labor Committee.
The former director of the Reading First program denied in the April 20 congressional hearing that there were conflicts of interest in the implementation of the $1 billion-a-year federal initiative. He also denied that he and other officials and consultants had overstepped their authority in directing states and school districts on the curriculum materials and assessments that would meet the strict requirements of the grants awarded under the program.

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