Melvin’s “No-bid bill” SB1239 update


by David Safier

I'll be talking about this on Robin Hiller's State of Education show this morning — Saturday, 11 to 11:30am on KVOI, 1030AM — but here's an update to information on some of my earlier posts on the Al Melvin/Imagine Learning story before I go on her show. (It's a call-in show. The number, I believe, is 790-2040. If you want to call, listen to the show to confirm the number.)

Basically, Al Melvin's SB1239 would give $30 million to a Utah company, Imagine Learning, to provide a computer-based program for K-3 students who are far behind in their reading. Since I last posted, the bill has passed the Senate Education Committee by a 6-2 margin, with one Democratic No Vote.

I also noted that Imagine Learning has a similar deal that's already up and running in Utah. To grease the skids, I wrote, the company gave legislators $12,000 in campaign funds in 2009. That figure needs an update. The company's total campaign contributions in Utah amount to over $57,000, mostly to powerful Republicans but also to some well-placed Democrats. I don't know if there have been similar contributions here in Arizona.

A final update. Apparently at least one Arizona school (or school district) had been using Imagine Learning's reading program but decided to get rid of it and go with a different company which they felt did an equivalent or better job with reading instruction but had more flexibility with upgrades and a better reporting system. Unfortunately, I don't have all the details. I doubt Melvin has been in contact with districts around the state to find out if any of them have had similar concerns with Imagine Learning. Imagine Learning's ALEC connections and its acceptance by the conservative education community are all Melvin needs to know to throw $30 million the company's way.


  1. Thanks for the compliment, Azazello. I actually enjoy doing this kind of thing, to my surprise.

    First, if only right wingers call in and you were listening, why the hell didn’t you call? (Kidding. I don’t call into talk shows either.) But actually, Robin commented, rightly, that KVOI has mainly right wing shows, so they’re the ones who are likely to be listening. And she also said — right again — that this is a rare opportunity to talk reasonably to the other side. No one shouted. Everyone waited their turn. The callers conceded a few points. We agreed when we thought they were correct. That’s the way the gigantic chasm between the sides can be bridged. Much as I like talking with you and others I agree with, I’ll talk to people who disagree with me sincerely and politely if I can. And I’ll try to be sincere and polite right back.

  2. I tuned in. You were great, maybe Robin needs a regular co-host. Why is it that only right-wingers call in to radio shows ? I can’t remember if I’ve shared this with you already or not, but here’s my DKos piece on education: