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Literacy Proponents Denounce Proposed Budget Cuts

Administration’s Third Attempt to Eliminate Comprehensive Literacy Program

WASHINGTON, DC—Advocates for Literacy, a coalition of over 60 organizations focused on increasing the federal commitment to improve literacy instruction through evidenced-based practices, strongly opposes the elimination of the $190 million Literacy for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) program—referred to as Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants—in the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal.

Creating a globally competent workforce depends on students acquiring reading and writing skills that enable them to develop important abilities in such areas as math, science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. Despite the fundamental importance of reading and writing, only 35 percent of fourth-grade students, 35 percent of eighth-grade students, and 37 percent of twelfth-grade students performed at or above the proficient level on the reading assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – the Nation’s Report Card. Furthermore, significant gaps in the average scores between student groups remain unchanged for many of the nation’s neediest populations. Research clearly demonstrates that a high-quality, literacy-rich environment beginning in early childhood is one of the most important factors in determining school readiness and success, high school graduation, college access and success, and workforce readiness.

The Advocates for Literacy coalition believes that literacy is a critical component of job readiness, and it is essential that all American students graduate with the literacy skills they need to be successful in the workplace. A strong federal commitment to literacy is imperative. The Coalition believes the Administration’s budget missed an important opportunity to support students and the economy.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was established to ensure that all students have equitable access to a quality education and to narrow achievement gaps; high-quality reading and writing instruction are foundational components of a quality education. LEARN supports states in a comprehensive, systemic approach to strengthen evidenced-based literacy and early literacy instruction for children from early learning through high school and supports district capacity to accelerate reading and writing achievement for all students. Additionally, LEARN is the only funding stream that helps states and districts support high-quality professional development for teachers, librarians, principals, specialized instructional support personnel, and other educators to improve literacy instruction for struggling readers and writers, including English learners and students with disabilities.

A strong federal commitment to literacy is imperative to ensure a strong economy and national defense. We believe the administration’s budget misses the mark to invest in our nation’s future.


Advocates for Literacy is a coalition of over 60 organizations that supports improved literacy instruction through comprehensive, birth through grade twelve state-led literacy plans that target struggling and economically-disadvantaged students with low-performing English language arts assessment scores. Members include Academic Language Therapy Association; ACT; Advocacy Institute; Alliance for Excellent Education; American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; American Federation of Teachers; American Occupational Therapy Association; Association on Higher Education and Disability; Association for Middle Level Education; CAST; Council of Administrators of Special Education; Council for Exceptional Children; Center for the Collaborative Classroom; Education Northwest; Early Care and Education Consortium; Easterseals; Every Child Reading; First Five Year Fund; First Focus Campaign for Children; Grimes Reading Institute; Higher Education Consortium; HighScope Educational Research Foundation; Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters; Institute for Educational Leadership; International Dyslexia Association; International Literacy Association; Keys to Literacy; Knowledge Alliance; Learning Ally; Learning Disabilities Association of America; Literacy How, Inc.; National Adolescent Literacy Coalition; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators; National Association of School Psychologists; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Association of State Boards of Education; National Association of State Directors of Special Education; National Black Child Development Institute; National Black Justice Coalition; National Center for Families Learning; National Center for Learning Disabilities; National Council of Teachers of English; National Down Syndrome Congress; National Down Syndrome Society; National Education Association; National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform; National Rural Education Association; National Urban Alliance for Effective Education; National Women’s Law Center; National Writing Project; Parents as Teachers; Reading Partners; Reading Recovery Council of North America; Scholastic Inc.; School Social Work Association of America; TASH; Teach Plus; TESOL International Association; The Arc; United Way Worldwide; WestEd; and ZERO TO THREE.