Today, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, introduced a literacy bill into the U.S. Congress that would provide $2.35 billion in funding for literacy programs from kindergarten to 12th grade. The bill would replace federal reading programs such as Reading First and Striving Readers. A summary from Murray’s office says that at least 10 percent of the bill’s funding would go to early-childhood education, at least 40 percent would go to students in grades K-5, and at least 40 percent would be spent on students in grades 6-12. If the bill were passed and fully funded, it would give a substantial boost to adolescent literacy programs.
The federal government’s only reading program that focuses on adolescents, Striving Readers, is financed with $35 million for the current fiscal year.
A spokesman for Murray said that a similar literacy bill (see a summary) is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives within the next two days.
I wrote about a draft of the literacy bill this summer. At that point, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, who had co-sponsored the Striving Readers legislation with Murray, was expected to be a sponsor as well. But the press release I received today about the introduction of the bill in Congress doesn’t list him as having endorsed the bill. It doesn’t name any Republicans as sponsors.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.