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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 17, 1996
                         AMERICA READS CHALLENGE

The President today announced that Carol H. Rasco will be Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Director of America Reads Challenge at the Department of Education. The America Reads Challenge is an initiative to ensure that all children can read independently and well by the third grade. Ms. Rasco is currently Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy.

The America Reads Challenge is a $2.75 billion proposal to work with families and communities in a national bipartisan reading effort that will enlist a million reading tutors to assist in teaching our children to read to high standards. Reading is a basic building block to a quality education; a nation of readers will become a nation of learners.

In announcing the appointment, President Clinton said: "Carol has served my administrations for over 14 years, most recently as my Domestic Policy Advisor. In the second term, she asked to move into a position more focused on issues related to children and families. Her work for the past 28 years as a teacher, middle school counselor, volunteer, parent, disability advocate, and policy counselor at the state and national level qualify her for this new challenge.

Carol understands the causes and potential remedies for the dismal statistic that 40% of our nation's children do not read on level in the fourth grade. Even more, she recognizes our country cannot expect to move ahead into the next century with the kind of human capital needed to keep this country strong until our citizens can become fully empowered. I am pleased she has agreed to take on this important task."

In a statement from the Department of Education, Secretary Riley said: "To appoint a person of Carol's stature, ability and experience to lead this critical initiative underscores the importance that President Clinton places on this effort. I can't think of a better person to lead us in this critical effort."