University Diaries
A professor of English describes American university life.
Aim: To change things.
Contact UD at: margaret-dot-soltan-at-gmail-dot-com

Read my book, TEACHING BEAUTY IN DeLILLO, WOOLF, AND MERRILL (Palgrave Macmillan; forthcoming), co-authored with Jennifer Green-Lewis. VISIT MY BRANCH CAMPUS AT INSIDE HIGHER ED

UD is...
"Salty." (Scott McLemee)
"Unvarnished." (Phi Beta Cons)
"Splendidly splenetic." (Culture Industry)
"Except for University Diaries, most academic blogs are tedious."
(Rate Your Students)
"I think of Soltan as the Maureen Dowd of the blogosphere,
except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ex-Professor Now Ex-Commissioner

The University of Oregon student newspaper brings its readers up to date on one of their recent faculty members:

A federal report released May 9 revealed that a former University professor had contractual and friendly relationships with a publishing company whose products he endorsed as effective child literacy boosters.

Reading First, the federal student literacy program enacted under President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, has been the subject of increasing scrutiny in recent months. Former University professor Edward Kame'enui worked for publisher Pearson/Scott Foresman while directing the University's Reading First Technical Assistance Center - one of three in the country. Kame'enui's extensive financial ties with the publisher may have improperly influenced his actions, according to the report.

Earlier this month, Kame'enui resigned from his position as the Commissioner of Special Education Research at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

... Reading First recommends to schools textbooks and materials scientifically shown to improve literacy in grades K-3. The materials must meet a set of rigorous requirements to be promoted by Reading First. Although the program seems to work - students in the program who are proficient on fluency tests have risen about 15 percent, education department officials said - perceived mismanagement of Reading First led to a number of federal reports and a congressional hearing last month in Washington, D.C., where it was revealed that Reading First employees made at least $1 million recommending their own products.

The program first unwittingly stole the spotlight last fall when the federal Department of Education Inspector General's report stated University employees advised states to purchase products they developed themselves. Since then, an ongoing investigation has ensued.

E-mails and documents Kennedy obtained for the purpose of the report revealed Kame'enui entered into three contracts with Pearson/Scott Foresman, all of which resulted in direct royalties for Kame'enui because he was also developing programs for the publisher that were sold to Reading First schools. He also acted and lobbied on behalf of Scott Foresman while directing the Technical Assistance Center. [Busy man, Kame'enui.] Despite Kame'enui's claim to the contrary, the report revealed the primary source of Kame'enui's income since 2003 was not the publication of textbooks, but rather profits obtained through Reading First programs.

Perhaps Kame'enui can find a new job as director of a university's student loan program.


UPDATE: Education Week reports he'll return to his University of Oregon position. Ick. As if that poor university isn't in bad enough shape, with its jock-mad president...