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Yarmuth and Polis Re-Introduce Comprehensive Literacy Bill

Congressman Yarmuth reads to Louisville kids

Yarmuth and Polis Re-Introduce Comprehensive Literacy Bill Legislation

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-03) and Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02) introduced major legislation to develop a comprehensive national literacy initiative. The Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act will develop and fund local literacy programs across the nation to ensure that children from birth to 12th grade learn the writing and reading skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

“Literacy skills are fundamental to a good education, a successful career, and a highly-skilled, competitive workforce. Yet, more than 60 percent of our nation’s high school seniors currently read below the proficient level,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “By enacting the LEARN Act, we will help close that gap and make much needed investments in the future of American students and the long-term economic growth of our nation.”

With states across the nation facing budget shortfalls and funding for education programs in jeopardy, the LEARN Act offers much-needed federal support for literacy initiatives that teach the fundamental elements necessary to every child’s education. The legislation authorizes $2.35 billion in grant funding per year to be allocated to state and local programs  to develop and implement plans based on the practices proven to be the most effective and efficient methods of literacy instruction.

“Literacy is the foundation of a student’s success in learning and in life, which is why the LEARN Act is so essential for our nation,” said Congressman Polis. “If America isn’t investing in the basic literacy skills of children from the early years through high school, we’re shortchanging these students and undermining our nation’s economic future. The LEARN Act must be on the agenda in this Congress if we’re to seriously address school reform this year.”

LEARN Act funding will initially assist states in assembling a team of literacy experts charged with developing a state literacy plan. Subsequent federal support will be available to train teachers, improve literacy instruction, and implement the new literacy plans.

Specifically, LEARN Act literacy initiatives will:

  • Support high-quality professional development enabling teachers to improve literacy. instruction at every grade level, including special education students and English language learners.
  • Expand Literacy Programs in effect for 4th through 12th graders.
  • Refocus Literacy Efforts for disadvantaged students and students with learning disabilities.
  • Support extensive data-driven literacy research to ensure best practices are implemented.

Congressmen Yarmuth and Polis worked extensively with national literacy leaders to draft legislation that would effectively address the needs of students of all abilities and backgrounds. 

Original cosponsors of the bill include Shelley Berkley (NV-01), Robert Brady (PA-01), Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Howard Berman (CA-28), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Mazie Hirono (HI-02), and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP).

Full text of the legislation – designated as H.R. 2272 - can be found shortly at www.thomas.loc.gov.

 

Statements of Support for the Learn Act

Jady Johnson, Executive Director of  The Reading Recovery Council of North America:

“It well-known that a focus on effective teacher development and integrated interventions support student success. The Reading Recovery Council of North America is proud to have worked with Congressman Yarmuth on the LEARN Act to incorporate those strategies into a comprehensive approach to student success”

James H. Wendorf, Executive Director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities:

“I congratulate Representatives Yarmuth and Polis on the House introduction of the LEARN Act.  This bill will strengthen literacy policy at the Federal level and provide much needed resources to schools and teachers seeking to improve academic achievement.

I am especially pleased that the bill includes Multi-tier System of Supports (MTSS), or Response to Intervention as it is also known, to help struggling learners from birth through high school.   The inclusion of MTSS in the House bill will allow States and schools to help teachers and other educators provide effective instruction to all children, and critically needed help to struggling learners.

NCLD looks forward to working with Representatives Yarmuth and Polis as they advance this legislation in the House.”

Richard Robinson, Chairman, President, and CEO of Scholastic Inc:

 "By enabling a culture of literacy in schools, homes and communities, the Learn Act lays the foundation for academic success for our nation's children. The bill also ensures that literacy development does not end at grade 3, but continues through high school. The Learn Act supports higher standards while providing literacy intervention for older students who struggle to read and to learn. Scholastic thanks Congressman Yarmuth for championing comprehensive literacy for school achievement while supporting national efforts to provide children in need with books for use at home and in school."

Letter of Support signed by 62 Youth and Literacy Advocate Organizations, including the National Education Association, the National PTA, United Way Worldwide, the American Federation of Teachers, Citizen Schools, Easter Seals, the American Association of University Women, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and College Board:

“What students need to know and do to be ready for higher education, work, and civic life is much more demanding than it once was.  Creating globally competent graduates requires high level reading and writing skills, and these skills are prerequisites for success in other high-growth fields, including science and technology.  The LEARN Act will ensure that students from birth though grade twelve acquire the reading and writing skills necessary to succeed in school and after graduation.”

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