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Roemer Proposes Statewide Use of 'Writing to Read'

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Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana last week proposed that the state implement the "Writing to Read" computer-software program in all elementary schools by the fall.

If Mr. Roemer's proposal is accepted, Louisiana would become the first state to adopt the program statewide.

The recommendation was included in the Governor's State of the State Address, which opened the legislature's 1990 session.

"This is a powerful program already used by some 130 schools in Louisiana that enhances the students' ability to learn by incorporating phonics and multisensory activities in the classroom," Mr. Roemer said.

Once computer laboratories based on the program are established in every elementary school, the Governor added, school districts should open them after school for local adult-literacy initiatives.

The "Writing to Read" program is a popular software package developed by the education researcher John Henry Martin and marketed exclusively by the International Business Machines Corporation. The program is now in use in ap8proximately 7,000 schools nationwide.

Last year, Gov. Ray Mabus of Mississippi launched a cooperative venture between the state and two private foundations to create a pool of money aimed at enabling more than 500 elementary schools in the state to acquire the "Writing to Read" program. That $13-million effort is expected to take four years to fully implement.

$30 Million Sought

Governor Roemer said he would like to have the program in place throughout Louisiana by the fall.

Mr. Roemer estimates that it will cost nearly $30 million to implement the program in every kindergarten and 1st-grade classroom. Half of that amount would be provided by private-sector donations, with the remainder coming from a projected surplus in the 1990 state budget.

Legislative approval will be needed to direct the surplus funds to the program.

Also in his speech, Mr. Roemer rejected efforts to delay implementation of a planned teacher-evaluation program this fall.

"Such a delay is not necessary in terms of program mechanics and would represent a betrayal of the taxpayers who demand education reform and excellence," he said.

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