At a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee this morning, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he would like to increase funding for the federal government’s Striving Readers program from $35 million to $370 million per year. He said he also wants to extend the program from operating only in middle and high schools to elementary schools. (It’s likely that he’s referring to the upper elementary school grades that weren’t covered under the federal Reading First program. A draft bill is circulating in Congress that could provide a program that could be a replacement for Reading First.)
Duncan added that he “worries” about adolescent literacy, a topic that’s creating lots of buzz lately in education circles. The Alliance for Excellent Education has more information about the Obama administration’s proposal for expanding Striving Readers in a summary of the administration’s proposed budget.
It turns out that one of my colleagues here at Education Week, Dakarai Aarons, wrote about this program in the Memphis city schools back in 2006 when he was a reporter for The Commercial Appeal, a newspaper there. He reported then that in the Memphis district, a $16 million grant from Striving Readers was being used to train core-subject teachers in how to integrate literacy strategies into their lessons and to direct interventions to struggling readers.
I see that Chicago is one of the school districts that has received a Striving Readers grant. So I guess Duncan must feel that the program was working well there when he was superintendent.
See more about what Duncan said at the hearing over at Politics K-12 and at Catherine Gewertz’s new blog, High School Connections
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.