Tom Ultican discovered a program called iReady that has magnificent marketing, but he says it is awful. If he spoke Yiddish, he would say it is “schlock” or “dreck.” Worse than the program is that stuff like this is pushed by the federal government. They like to waste your money. Ultican posted this entry a year ago but it has taken on a life of its own. One mother who reviewed it called it not iReady but “iSCAM.”


iReady is an economically successful software product used in public schools, by homeschoolers and in private schools. It utilizes the blended learning practices endorsed by the recently updated federal education law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). iReady employs competency-based education (CBE) theory which is also advocated by ESSA. The outcome is iReady drains money from classrooms, applies federally supported failed learning theories and undermines good teaching. Children hate it.

Public education in America contends with four dissimilar but not separate attacks. The school choice movement is motivated by people who want government supported religious schools, others who want segregated schools and still others who want to profit from school management and the related real estate deals. The forth big threat is from the technology industry which uses their wealth and lobbying power to not only force their products into the classroom, but to mandate “best practices” for teaching. These four streams of attack are synergistic.

Profiting from Education Law

A group of billionaires with varying motives are using their vast wealth to shape America’s education agenda to their own liking. The last rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 called ESSA was larded up with provisions like the big money for technology which is listed in Title’s I and IV. It also specifies generous grants to promote both “blended learning” and “personalized learning.” (See page 1969 of the official law.) Charter schools, vouchers and social impact bonds are promoted in ESSA. All these initiatives drain money from the classroom and none have been credibly shown to improve education outcomes.

Read his post to learn the history of iReady, which started innocently enough as a workbook series in 1969. Then an equities investor took over, and all of a sudden the whole spectrum of money-grabbing hedge funders and know-it-all billionaires get into the picture. Even Jeb Bush.

A cautionary tale that begins with money and ends with money.