Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he wants to do a deeper investigation of an Inspector General’s report involving federally funded reading program. Harkin, a democrat, says the report says the U.S. Education Department tried to influence the curriculum used for the “Reading First” program.

Harkin says soon after the “Reading First” program was created, a number of publishers, researchers, state and local officials, said the Ed Department was pressuring local districts to purchase a particular program. Harkin says the “Reading First” program received about one billion dollars a year for each of the last five years.

Harkin says this is “Very, very disturbing” as he says the I-G report shows people were not following the law. Harkin says the “Reading First” director is getting the blame, but Harkin says the investigation should look higher into the department. Harkin says he hasn’t heard yet from any Iowa districts that may’ve been pressured to use particular programs under Reading First. Harkin says though, the report cites Massachusetts as a state where there were problems.

Harkin says three districts that dropped their own programs — continued to get Reading First money. He says the one district that stuck with their own approved program, did not the federal money. Harkin says that sends the message that if you want the funding, you’d better do what the education department says. Harkin says he plans to look further into the issue in his role on the education and appropriations committee.