The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cronyism, nepotism, and other free-market ideals.

The first time I heard about Neil Bush's magical rain-making machine, he was raking in the cash via investment from foreign governments ("Sure would be a shame if something happened to our international relations..."). The next time I heard about it, his company was being given Katrina relief aid at his mother's behest.

Now there's another story about Neil's little cash cow, and how-- for a third time-- he's benefiting from a rigged playing field. This time, courtesy of the federal government.

An independent watchdog agency has asked the Department of Education to investigate why President Bush's younger brother, Neil, has received money earmarked for the president's signature education initiative to sell a curriculum program that has not been subjected to the rigorous evaluation it deserves.

Neil Bush, 52, who has no background in education, founded Ignite! Learning in 1999 with donations from his parents and a slate of international business interests. The company produces "Curriculum on Wheels" devices -- computer/projectors that are pre-loaded with software aimed at preparing students for standardized tests that are the central tenet of the president's No Child Left Behind law.

The "COWs" are sold to school districts at a cost of $3,800 to $4,200, although they have not been subjected to peer-reviewed scientific studies, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW says nearly $1 million has been spent on the systems in 16 school districts, mostly in Texas, where George W. Bush served as governor before his election in 2000, and Florida, where brother Jeb Bush is governor.