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First Lady Endorses Yarmuth's Striving Readers Act

Legislation, Introduced Today, Focuses on Youth Literacy

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) introduced legislation that, by 2012, will work to improve lagging literacy levels for students in grades 4 - 12.  The bill, which Congressman Yarmuth hopes will be a key piece of the reauthorized No Child Left Behind law, received an unexpected endorsement at the 'National Summit on America's Silent Epidemic' from First Lady Laura Bush.

"[No Child Left Behind] will expand the Striving Readers program, which uses research-based instruction to help middle and high school students read at grade level or better..." the First Lady said from the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center last week.  "By learning to read well, these students were preparing for every other subject -- for history, for math, for science, for language, for art. They were building a strong academic foundation for high school and college, and for the rest of their lives."

Seventy percent of America's middle and high school students read below their grade level, putting them in danger of dropping out of school.  Research shows that the Striving Readers pilot program makes great strides in bringing students up to speed and helping them master college preparatory material.

The program would create a 5-year grant program to help states and local education agencies establish literacy programs. States and schools would use these funds to create school literacy teams, provide adolescent literacy training for teachers and school leaders, improve reading curriculum, and involve parents in adolescent literacy instruction. The legislation is modeled after the Striving Readers pilot program, which serves eight districts nationwide, including one in Danville, Kentucky.

Currently, nearly $4 billion is spent annually on remedial education, but Yarmuth's legislation would reach children earlier, ensuring that they have the resources, personal attention, and parental involvement they need to address the problem early.

"The Striving Readers pilot program has been very effective, right here in Kentucky, at helping students, who are on the verge of dropping out of high school, graduate and become legitimate candidates for a full college education," Congressman Yarmuth said of the bill which has already received broad bipartisan support and has been endorsed by the National Education Association, the Kentucky Reading Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and dozens of other education organizations and professional associations.

Brenda Overturf, President of the Kentucky Reading Association recently presented Congressman Yarmuth with a stack of letters from educators in the community, thanking him for his commitment and initiative in the area of education.  "This bill will make a tremendous impact in literacy nationwide, and I am so thankful to be represented by Congressman Yarmuth, who has taken the initiative to make it happen."

The bill will be referred to committee and Congressman Yarmuth is hoping to include the bill in the No Child Left Behind reauthorization this summer.