Statement by Cynthia H. Sadler, Alliance Interim President, on federal funding for the Striving Readers Program
When President Bush signed legislation this week authorizing federal education spending for the 2005 fiscal year, he took an important first step in addressing a growing crisis- the severe lack of literacy skills among secondary school students. With only 30 percent of American’s high school students reading at grade level or higher, and 25 percent – that’s six million kids – reading so poorly that they cannot comprehend the material in their textbooks, action is needed now.
The president demonstrated an important federal commitment to expanding literacy intervention by initially requesting $100 million in the 2005 budget to support the Striving Readers Initiative, a program designed to develop literacy skills in older students, just as No Child Left Behind’s Reading First seeks to improve these skills in younger students. In an increasingly competitive global economy, high school students who lack proficiency in reading and writing fall behind, often drop out of school, and face a future of dead-end jobs, high unemployment, and an increased risk of incarceration.
Unfortunately, Congress only appropriated $25 million to Striving Readers in 2005. The president has said that he will ask for $200 million for the initiative in the following fiscal year. If the investment of $1 billion in Reading First is to have lasting effects, literacy skills acquired in the younger years must be reinforced with a continuum of literacy instruction. We at the Alliance for Excellent Education urge a significant increase in funding for Striving Readers on par with Reading First so that America’s high school students graduate prepared for success.
# # #
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Daniels Fund, and the New York Community Trust, as well as by concerned individuals.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.