Patty in the News

U.S. Senator Patty Murray has introduced a new literacy bill that puts a priority on literacy education during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The bill, Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation act (LEARN for short), calls for using $2.35 billion to support school-based literacy programs to help students in early childhood education programs through grade 12. The bill also calls for increased teacher literacy education training, tracking data and starting new intervention programs.

I just got off a conference call with Senator Murray, during which she repeatedly stated that literacy education should be a priority in this country, but instead funding for it keeps being reduced.

According to Murray, more than 8 million students across the country in grade 4-12 read below grade level.

“That is absolutely unacceptable,” she said, adding later, “Here we are in the 21st century and we know literacy is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”

According to Murray, Washington would receive about $34 million under the LEARN Act. During the 2008-09 school year, the state received $17 million in federal literacy funds, and $6 million during the 2009-10 school year.

Nationally, Murray said there was $541 million in federal literacy funding in 2008, $147 million in 2009, $200 million in 2010 and none in 2011.

When asked about how the government can afford the program she’s proposing, Murray said it should be part of the ESEA (known as No Child Left Behind during the Bush administration). By introducing the bill, Murray is trying to make it a priority within the entire national education framework.

- The Bellingham Herald