We need your help, and your friend’s help and are asking that you reach out to your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, by either calling or emailing, and ask that they sign onto the Polis/Yarmuth Dear Colleague on literacy. You can find the phone number of your member of the House at www.house.gov or by calling the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

There is a quickly approaching April 15 deadline for Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to show their support for the Striving Readers Literacy Program by signing a “Dear Colleague” letter addressed to appropriators regarding the program’s Fiscal Year 2014 funding. Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and John Yarmuth (D-KY) are circulating the “Dear Colleague” letter in support of Striving Readers, which allows states to create comprehensive literacy programs. The text of the letter is below.

Currently, the letter has the support from Reps. Polis (D-CO), Yarmth (D-KY), Wilson (D-FL), Norton (D-DC), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Loebsack (D-IA), Jackson Lee (D-TX), Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Carson (D-IN).

Last year a similar letter gained the support of 26 Members of Congress, six of which are no longer in Congress. Last year’s signatories that have not yet signed the FY 2014 letter included:

  • Rep Cicilline (D-RI)
  • Rep Nadler (D-NY)
  • Rep Clarke (D-NY)
  • Rep Rangel (D-NY)
  • Rep Cohen (D-TN)
  • Rep Al Green (D-TX)
  • Rep Hinojosa (D-TX)
  • Rep Grijalva (D-AZ)
  • Rep Sablan (D-MP)
  • Rep Scott (D-VA)
  • Rep Waters (D-CA)
  • Rep Rahall (D-WV)

Text of the letter:

April 15, 2013

Honorable Jack Kingston

Chairman

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education

House Appropriations Committee

Washington, DC 20515

 

Honorable Rosa DeLauro

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education

House Appropriations Committee Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Kingston and Ranking Member DeLauro:

As you work to draft the Fiscal Year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations bill, we urge you to include at least $160 million for the critically important Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program.

Research clearly demonstrates that a high-quality, literacy-rich environment beginning in early childhood is one of the most important factors in determining school readiness and success, high school graduation, college access and success, and workforce readiness.  All citizens need advanced literacy skills in order to think critically, as well as to access new information and technologies.  Graduating globally competent citizens depends on students using their reading and writing skills to develop important abilities in such areas as math, science, and technology.

As we seek to ensure our nation’s workforce remains competitive in a global market, a strong federal commitment to literacy is desperately needed. Striving Readers is the only targeted federal literacy funding for birth through grade 12 teacher professional development and research-based interventions for students who cannot read and write well enough to progress in school through graduation.

In 2010, 48 states received formula funding to create a state literacy team, and in 2011, six states received Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Implementation grants.  These states—Georgia, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas—have in turn awarded at least 95 percent of the funds to local school districts with priority going to those serving the greatest number/percentage of disadvantaged students.  Each state is working to improve literacy instruction in order to increase literacy proficiency levels of its students to meet college- and career-ready standards, and they are employing specialized techniques targeting literacy instruction and interventions to meet their students’ needs.  Ultimately, all states will be able to benefit from the lessons learned.

That is why we urge you to provide at least $160 million for this innovative early childhood, elementary, and secondary education initiative – the same level allocated for Fiscal Year 2012 – to support reading and writing achievement so that more students graduate with the skills needed for success in higher education, work, and civic life.

Thank you for your consideration of this request, and we hope we can count on your support.

Sincerely,