"Open your book up to lesson 60 on page 153…and get ready to read the title." - Mrs. Daniels, Emma E. Booker Elementary School, September 11, 2001
It’s taken a substantial amount of research, spurred on by reader inquiries of an earlier article, to track down the infamous goat story President Bush was reading on September 11, 2001. There have been several dead-ends, but alas I've found the elusive pet goat.
It was during a photo-op with the second graders of Emma E. Booker Elementary School, the President was notified of United Airlines Flight 175, the 2nd plane to crash into the WTC. From watching the footage of the President on the day, now immortalized by Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, the question we're all left pondering is; with knowledge of the first attack, why did Bush spend the next 7 minutes reading the story about a pet goat?
A few months ago, I was struck by the oddity of the footage. I, like so many others, wanted to know what was so engaging about a book which would cause the leader of the free world to ignore the largest attack on American soil for 7 minutes, but when I searched, I found nothing. No information on the internet, no information at the library, and no information at the bookstores - it was as if the book never existed. This seemed extraordinarily odd to me considering its affiliation with the President and especially September 11th. And with all the books published and stories written on the subject, surely somebody must have a copy of the book.
When viewing the video of Bush at the Floridian elementary school, I was immediately struck by the odd, almost military teaching method. “The fast way” is repeated throughout the drill, and in the end, this was what led me to a book series called “Reading Mastery”.
“Reading Mastery approaches reading instruction in a clear, straightforward fashion. Six levels, plus a Fast Cycle, help children develop strong reading strategies that make the difference between lifelong reading success and failure.” -sraonline.com
Reading Mastery is a technique of “Direct Instruction” - a teaching technique developed by Siegfried Engelmann in the 1960’s which makes the claim, "Kids taught in a fully implemented Direct Instruction program read by the end of kindergarten…That's all kids, even disadvantaged kids, ghetto kids, and special-ed kids." As it turns out, Siegfried Engelmann is also the co-author of the “The Pet Goat”, a story found on page 153 of SRA’s “Reading Mastery 2” storybook #1.
Siegfried Engelmann, the proclaimed “Schoolyard Prophet” has authored many books during his lifetime including the controversial 1992 “War Against the Schools' Academic Child Abuse” [Portland: Halcyon House], a book which challenges institutionalized teaching methods. Engelmann headed several government education related programs during his lifetime, including Project Follow Through, a 1967 initiative of President Johnson's War on Poverty.
SRA, the Scientific Research Association, that published the “Reading Mastery” series in 1995, is a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill, a corporation which has a multi-billion dollar stake in Global industry companies such as Platts (energy), Standards and Poor’s (finance), Business Week (media), and appropriately named Construction (construction).
When I called SRA, looking for information on lesson 60 (the elusive goat story), I was quickly taken aback, when after a significant hold time, the friendly operator now returned anxious, and not with an answer to my enquiry, but a need to know my name, telephone number and town of residence. Needless to say, I declined further assistance and thanked the woman for her time.
Really, that was all it took, now positive I had the right book, I just needed a simple Ebay search. A kind seller confirmed the inclusion of “The Pet Goat” in the Reading Mastery series with a surprised, “it's in book 1, page 153 just as you said”, then with a big capital "LOL", she commended me on my “good research.”
“The Pet Goat” can be purchased HERE
Watch the video HERE
[07/10/04] UPDATE: THE PET GOAT: PART ONE & TWO
The Pet Goat
by Siegfried Engelmann & Elaine C. Bruner
Lesson 60, page 153
Reading Mastery 2, storybook #1
SRA (Scientific Research Associates)
“A girl got a pet goat. She liked to go running with her pet goat. She played with her goat in her house. She played with her goat in her yard. But the goat did some things that made the girl's dad mad. The goat ate things. He ate cans and he ate canes. He ate pans and he ate panes. He even ate capes and caps. One day her dad said, "that goat must go. He ate too many things." The girl said, "dad if you let the goat stay with us, I will see that he stops eating all those things." Her dad said he will try it. So the goat stayed and the girl made him stop eating cans and capes and caps and capes. But one day a car robber came to the girls house. He saw a big red car near the house and said, "I will steal that car." He ran to the car and started to open the door. The girl and the goat were playing in the back yard. They did not see the car robber.
More to come."