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President Signs Into Law $250 Million Down Payment For Yarmuth's Comprehensive Literacy Bill

(Washington, DC) Last week, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY10, approving $250 million in funding for a new comprehensive national literacy initiative -- laying the groundwork for the programs included in the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act - legislation sponsored by Congressmen John Yarmuth (KY-3) and Jared Polis (CO-2).

“Literacy skills are the foundation upon which a good education and a successful career are built. But too many students in every community do not have the resources they need to thrive. In Louisville alone, 38 percent of high school students in Louisville cannot read at their grade level,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “By implementing the LEARN Act, we will help ensure American students have the skills that are essential for their success and our nation’s economic growth and competitiveness.”

The $250 million allocation sets the stage for enactment of the LEARN Act’s nationwide literacy program.  While the LEARN Act is pending approval in Congress, the $250 million approved last week will be used to implement the framework of the legislation. 

In line with the proposals of the LEARN Act, the funding will restructure the existing Striving Readers program to:

  • Expand literacy programs currently in effect for 4th through 12th graders to assist children all the way from early childhood to the end of high school.
  • Refocus literacy efforts to benefit disadvantaged students
  • Provide $10 million in grants to help each state assemble teams of literacy experts to develop a locally-focused literacy plan
  • Provide $240 million in funding to establish a competitive grant program in which states will be awarded money for localities to provide high-quality professional development programs for teachers, improve literacy instruction specific to grade level, and implement new literacy strategies.

 

Digital Learning Funding Secured

Up to $500,000 in funding for Congressman Yarmuth’s proposed National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies was also approved, paving the way for the first national research program focused on technology and education.

“While entrepreneurs and businesses embrace technology to grow, expand, and create jobs, we also need to harness the potential of the latest technologies to better educate our children in and out of the classroom,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “This funding will go toward a long-term effort to develop new educational resources implementing today’s technology and embracing the innovations of the future to create new learning opportunities for students nationwide.”

In 2007, Congressman Yarmuth introduced legislation to establish the National Center as part of his Digital Learning initiative. The provisions of that legislation were then included in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act, which was signed into law.

With President Obama’s signature on the Consolidated Appropriations Act last Wednesday, funding was allocated for the initiative for the first time.