One of Bush's signature education initiatives, Reading First provides more than $1 billion annually to public schools to help teach reading to disadvantaged children through third grade. Unprecedented in size, it is one of the few federal programs that isn't shrinking in this time of budget cuts. Congress is expected to distribute about $6 billion to schools by 2007.
A spokesman for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., confirmed that an audit was taking place, opponents saying that the program has all but forced schools to buy textbooks and related materials from a handful of large publishers, several of which have retained top federal advisers as authors, editors or consultants. Gannett News Service story here .