Senator Murray Introduces Major Federal Literacy Bill

May 10 2011

Landmark legislation would make sure schools have the resources they need to teach students of all ages how to read and write

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced her major literacy bill, the Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation, or the LEARN Act. This bill will provide schools and states with the resources they need to make sure that children from birth to grade twelve have the reading and writing skills necessary for success in school and beyond. Cosponsoring Murray’s legislation are Senator Reed, Sanders, Brown, and Begich.

“Literacy education is the foundation for all education,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Children in every state deserve to have access to high quality literacy education that will give them the reading and writing skills they need to succeed in school, in their future careers, and in life. As we work to reauthorize and improve No Child Left Behind, I am going to fight to make sure literacy education gets the support it deserves.”

“Senator Murray has been a tireless advocate for children throughout her career and has been such an incredible leader on education issues,” said U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “She is focused on making sure that every child receives a high-quality education and that starts with comprehensive literacy. I feel lucky to work with someone so dedicated to making sure that children get the educational support and resources they need to be successful in life.

The LEARN Act would make a significant investment in literacy education across the country. In Washington state, for example, the federal literacy funding would go from $6 million last school year, to an estimated $34 million under the LEARN Act.

Specifically, the LEARN Act will:

  • Provide federal support for literacy programs, in partnership with states, local school districts by establishing funding for existing and new state and local school-based literacy programs and by requiring a rigorous national evaluation that includes stringent conflict of interest restrictions for the program’s peer review process.
  • Enhance the role of states in improving literacy instruction by supporting state literacy leadership teams comprised of literacy experts and relevant stakeholders tasked with developing a comprehensive state literacy plans that build upon promising practices already being implemented in many states. 
  • Support the creation of high-quality literacy programs by targeting funding to low-income schools and schools with low literacy levels through a competitive grant program, providing professional development for instructional staff so that they may provide high-quality literacy instruction to children and students, and ensuring that schools provide additional supports to address the specific learning needs of struggling readers and writers, including English language learners and students with disabilities.

Click here for additional information on the LEARN Act.

Senator Murray was joined on a conference call announcing the legislation by Carmel Martin, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education; Kati Tilley, English Department Chair, Lake Stevens High School; and Daniel Rodriguez, a student at Grandview High School in Grandview, WA who benefited from literacy programs and is now enrolled in AP classes in his school.