A “scorching internal review”

of the Bush administration’s $1 billion/year reading program “says the Education Department ignored the law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.” The report says the program — described as the “jewel of No Child Left Behind” — is “beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement” and “suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.”

UPDATE: Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member on the education committee, is outraged:

“Corrupt cronies at the Department of Education wasted taxpayer dollars on an inferior reading curriculum for kids that was developed by a company headed by a Bush friend and campaign contributor,” said Miller. “Instead of putting children first, they chose to put their cronies first. Enough is enough. President Bush and Secretary Spellings must take responsibility and do a wholesale housecleaning at the Education Department.”

“Everyone at the Department of Education who was involved in perpetrating this fraud on school districts should be fired — not suspended, not reassigned, not admonished, but fired.”