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Reps. Yarmuth, Polis Introduce Comprehensive Literacy Bill

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) and Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) reintroduced the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act, a critical education reform measure designed to better prepare students to succeed in the 21st century economy. The LEARN Act would provide a strong federal investment for states and localities to develop and implement comprehensive literacy plans for children from birth through 12th grade.

“Literacy is the cornerstone for success in every aspect of our economy and our society,” Congressman Yarmuth said. “This legislation embraces literacy as a top priority and makes key federal investments to help ensure that the students of today are prepared to lead the workforce of tomorrow.”

“High-quality literacy instruction, that makes reading fun, as well as educational, is key for students to develop a love for reading and set them on a course for success,” Congressman Polis said. “I am proud to join Representative Yarmuth in working to provide students the literacy support and instruction they need from pre-K through high school graduation.”

Research clearly demonstrates that a literacy-rich environment beginning in early childhood is an important prerequisite for high school graduation, college success, and workforce readiness. The 25 fastest growing professions have higher than average literacy demands, while the fastest declining professions have lower than average literacy demands. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, two-thirds of all 4th and 8th graders do not read at a proficient level.

The LEARN Act would support the creation and expansion of successful, high-quality literacy initiatives and require a rigorous review process to ensure those programs are benefitting students. The legislation would also support ongoing professional development for instructors and additional instruction for struggling readers and writers, including English language learners and students with disabilities.

Congressmen Yarmuth and Polis worked closely with national literacy leaders to craft legislation that would meet the needs of students, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities.

Support for the LEARN Act:

"The nation's current approach to teaching reading is analogous to a builder helping to lay the foundation of a house, but not following through to assist with the walls, windows, doors, and roof. By introducing the LEARN Act, Representatives Yarmuth and Polis have outlined a comprehensive approach to teaching reading and writing that would move away from the current practice of siloing literacy instruction based on grade level and toward an approach that supports children from cradle through commencement and ensures that they have the literacy skills necessary to succeed in college and career.” – Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former Governor of West Virginia

“We are extremely pleased that Representatives Yarmuth and Polis have reintroduced the LEARN Act. As instructional leaders in schools, principals will receive the professional development and support necessary to drive school-wide literacy initiatives to ensure that all students receive the appropriate literacy instruction and support as they progress through all levels of their education.” – JoAnn Bartoletti, Executive Director, National Association of Secondary School Principals

“The National Association of Elementary School Principals applauds the House introduction of the LEARN Act, and urges lawmakers to recognize the importance of comprehensive literacy programs to improve our nation’s schools. Elementary and middle level principals know that strong literacy skills are essential for student success, and effective instruction must begin in the early years to lay a strong foundation for learning. The bill will provide a coordinated system to improve literacy instruction in schools and give principals the tools needed to help students gain the reading and writing skills that are critical to their success.” – Gail Connelly, Executive Director, National Association of Elementary School Principals

“Literate Nation believes that a comprehensive approach to literacy from birth through Grade 12 will make a difference in the lives of millions of students who are struggling to learn how to read and write by helping their teachers and principals improve instruction for children living in poverty, English language learners, and those with specific learning disabilities.  A unified approach is critical, and the LEARN Act brings together knowledge gained from past literacy interventions: that they don’t work in the long-run unless they focus on every stage of learning.  The LEARN Act provides us with a unique opportunity to accelerate our progress towards becoming a fully literate nation.” – Richard Long, President, Literate Nation