by David Safier
(h/t to Craig McDermott of Random Musings [who cross posts on BfA] for his Arizona Legislature: The Coming week… post that alerted me to this story.)
Here's the question: What's the name of the education company Al Melvin wants to give $30 million in state funds to? (By the way, I don't know the answer, but I mention a possibility at the end of the post.)
Al Melvin is the sole sponsor of SB1239, a bill that would give one "educational technology provider" as much as $30 million to furnish a "technology-based reading intervention" strategy to the state to be used with K-3 students whose reading skills are lagging. The bill has an incredibly detailed shopping list of criteria — about 20 in all — which makes it sound like there are very few companies that could meet all of them — possibly only one. There's no way Al Melvin or any legislator could have come up with such an extensive, detailed list without a lot of help.
Here are some of the criteria:
- The programs must be "research-based" and "technology-based."
- The programs must be "designed to accelerate language and literacy development by delivering individualized instruction that is designed to teach each pupil phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency."
- The programs must allow students "to practice reading on the computer by recording the pupil's readings and comparing the pupil's readings to the reading model."
- The programs must "explicitly teach pupils academic vocabulary that is related to core content areas."
- The programs must "provide tutorials that introduce pupils to the computer and mouse and other hardware."
- The company must "provide software that is current with frequent content and technology updates that occur at least once a year."
- The company must provide "on-site assistance and support for technnical problems in less than twenty-four hours."
Here's one more bit of information that may be relevant to discovering the identity of the company: In 2010, Melvin and Huppenthal submitted a similar bill with similar language, SB1319, to purchase educational technology for ELL students.
So, what is the name of lucky corporation that can do all this, including assuring updates "at least once a year" and on-site help "in less than twenty-four hours"? In his initial post, Craig McDermott suggested the company might be Scientific Learning, whose main headquarters is in Oakland, CA, and whose only other office is in Tucson. My preliminary research tells me it's a very good guess, but that doesn't mean he's right.