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Reading Initiative Found Ineffective

President Bush’s $1 billion-a-year initiative to teach reading to low-income children has not improved their reading comprehension, according to a Department of Education report released on Thursday.

The program, known as Reading First, drew on some of Bush’s educational experiences as Texas governor, and at his insistence Congress included it in the federal No Child Left Behind legislation that passed with bipartisan support in 2001. It has been a subject of dispute almost ever since, however, with the Bush administration and some state officials characterizing the program as beneficial for students, and congressional Democrats and federal investigators alleging conflict of interest among its top advisers.

“Reading First did not improve students’ reading comprehension,” concluded the report, which was mandated by Congress and carried out by the Department of Education’s research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences. “The program did not increase the percentages of students in grades one, two or three whose reading comprehension scores were at or above grade level.”

Stocks Jump as Many Investors Think Worst May Be Over

Main Street may be struggling, but Wall Street is on a bit of a roll.

Despite a drumbeat of bad economic news, the stock market is up — almost 11 percent in the last few weeks. Junk bonds, those risky corporate IOUs, are rallying. The value of financial shares, bank loans, tricky credit derivatives — up, up, up. Many on Wall Street, the epicenter of the credit mess, seem to think that the worst is over. For the first time in months, analysts and executives sound upbeat again. Many of them see a broad, sustained recovery in both the economy and the financial markets coming in second half of this year, a prediction some market strategists call hopeful at best.

For now, policymakers are echoing the mood on Wall Street. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday that “we are closer to the end of this problem than we are to the beginning.” A report from the Bank of England, meantime, concluded that mortgage securities, which have been at the heart of the financial troubles, probably have fallen too far. The central bank said prices of such securities should “improve gradually in the coming months.”

Fox News Becoming Friendlier to Democratic Party

Standing in front of a television camera last week, the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe uttered four words that the Fox News Channel would not soon forget.

“Fair and balanced Fox!” he exclaimed, noting that the network was the first to project Clinton’s victory in the Pennsylvania primary.

Fox executives could not have asked for a more rousing endorsement. The next day it showed up in commercials.

All of a sudden, the once-frosty relationship between Fox News and the Democratic candidates seems to have grown warmer. Clinton and Barack Obama, who steadfastly refused to attend Fox-sponsored debates last year, are now giving plenty of interviews as they court Fox’s viewers, who are largely white, working-class, conservative — and undecided.

“It’s probably true that we appeal to white working class voters,” said Brit Hume, the network’s Washington managing editor and the host of “Special Report.” “The candidates are going where the voters are.”