Federal File

November 29, 2000 1 min read

The Gift of Reading

Some needy boys and girls in Washington got an early Christmas present of sorts last week, thanks to two top federal officials and a nonprofit group that distributes books to disadvantaged children.

Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater and Admiral James M. Loy, the commandant of the Coast Guard, teamed up with officials from First Book to hand out about 80 brand-new books to students in Head Start and kindergarten at a local elementary school.

The event marked the beginning of a partnership between the Coast Guard and First Book, which is based in Washington.

The Coast Guard plans to use its vessels and aircraft to help deliver the books, and it will allow students to tour the vehicles when its members visit schools, spokeswoman Tara Jennings-May said.

Coast Guard leaders were looking for a worthy cause to help children, similar to the Marine Corps’ famed Toys for Tots program, and settled on First Book, she added.

“This promotes education,” Admiral Loy said at the event. “First Book’s primary goal is to give disadvantaged children the opportunity to read and own their first books.”

“Literacy is the key to success,” Mr. Slater added. “It is the mechanism that enables an individual to seek, set, focus, and achieve his or her goals.”

First Book distributed about 3 million books to students in 250 low-income communities last year, and it hopes to get 4 million out this year.

Sisterly Advice

Sister Lourdes Sheehan, the secretary of education for the U.S. Catholic Conference, will become the newest member of the National Assessment Governing Board, Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley announced this month.

Her three-year term will end in September 2003.

The 25-member board is responsible for overseeing the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

—Joetta L. Sack

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2000 edition of Education Week