WASHINGTON -- Officials who gave states advice on which teaching materials to buy under a federal reading program had deep financial ties to publishers, according to a congressional report yesterday.
The report, compiled by Senate Education Committee chairman Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, details how officials contracted by the government to help run the program were at the same time drawing pay from publishers that benefited from the reading initiative.
Kennedy's report added new detail to a conflict-of-interest investigation by the Education Department's inspector general, which earlier had found that the Reading First Program favored some reading programs over others and that federal officials and contractors didn't guard against conflicts.
The new report focused on four contractors who headed centers that guided states in choosing reading programs aimed at kindergartners through third-graders.
Edward Kame'enui, who headed the western technical assistance center based at the University of Oregon. Between 2002 and 2004, while holding positions in which he was evaluating Reading First assessment programs and giving state education agencies technical assistance, Kame'enui entered into three contracts with the publisher Pearson/Scott Foresman, the report said.
"Due largely to his contracts with Pearson/Scott Foresman, Dr. Kame'enui's income soared in the period following the implementation of the Reading First program," the report said.
Douglas Carnine, who replaced Kame'enui as the western center's director in 2005, when Kame'enui left to take up his federal position. Previously Carnine had other roles related to Reading First.
At the same time he headed the western center, Carnine worked with and continues to work with numerous publishers, according to the report. He made hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from publishers that did well under Reading First, such as Houghton Mifflin Company from 2002 to 2006, the report said.
Joseph Torgesen, who directed the eastern regional district at Florida State University from 2003 until the present. Torgesen is the publisher of a McGraw Hill reading program that can be used under Reading First. The study found that from 2002 to 2006, Torgesen earned thousands of dollars in royalties and other payments from companies like McGraw Hill and Pearson and Sopris West, which later was acquired by Cambium Learning.
Sharon Vaughn headed the central technical assistance center at the University of Texas-Austin from 2003 to 2005. She received tens of thousands of dollars in royalties from Pearson Education Inc. and "other income" from Voyager Expanded learning, two programs used under Reading First.