The New York Times reported this morning that the inspector general of the Department of Education will take a look at whether or not federal money was “inappropriately used” to buy educational products from Ignite Learning of Austin, TX, a company owned by one Neil Bush (a prior post on this appears here – luckily our friend Ed Secretary Maggie Spellings won’t be in charge, or surely nothing would happen).
As the Times tells us…
Members of (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C.) and other critics in Texas contend that school districts are buying Ignite’s signature product, the Curriculum on Wheels, because of political considerations. The product, they said, does not meet standards for financing under the No Child Left Behind Act, which allocates federal money to help students raise their achievement levels, particularly in elementary school reading.Gee, I wonder if the “the beautiful mind” decided to let poor kids left even more destitute by Katrina act as guinea pigs for Neil’s bogus product since they apparently had no other choice? I mean, maybe trying to figure out how to learn from Neil’s COWs “worked out (as) well for them” as the Louisiana Superdome “accommodations” for some of Katrina’s other victims.
Ignite, founded by Neil Bush in 1999, includes as investors his parents, former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Company officials say that about 100 school districts use the Curriculum on Wheels, known as the Cow, which is a portable classroom with software to teach middle-school social studies, science and math. The units cost about $3,800 each and require about $1,000 a year in maintenance.
The citizens’ group says it has documented only a small part of the federal money spent on Ignite products. Ignite has had strong support from districts in Texas, President Bush’s home state. This week, the Houston Independent School District is set to consider whether to authorize schools to spend an additional $300,000 from various financing sources on the Curriculum on Wheels.
Jay Spuck, a former curriculum director for the district, has criticized spending on the Ignite product, saying: “It’s not helping kids at all. It’s not helping teachers. The only way Neil has gotten in is by his name.”
Much of the product’s success in Texas dates from a March 2006 donation by Barbara Bush, who gave eight units to schools attended by large numbers of hurricane evacuees.
But not to worry; Neil, being the global capitalist that he is, plans to expand Ignite into China this summer.
Better be careful, Neil. They don’t take too kindly to corporate malfeasance over there (here).