THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S AMERICA READS WORK-STUDY CHALLENGE October 21, 1997
Forty percent of American children read below the basic level in the fourth grade, as reported by the 1994 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Research shows that these children too often fall further behind in school, lose interest, give up, and drop out. To help these children, President Clinton launched the America Reads Challenge. In order to empower parents and to encourage all states and schools to reach for the America Reads goal, the President also proposed voluntary national standards and tests in the fourth grade.
TODAY, PRESIDENT CLINTON WILL ANNOUNCE THAT NEARLY 800 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, FROM EVERY STATE, HAVE PLEDGED TO COMMIT WORK-STUDY SLOTS TO HELP ENSURE THAT EVERY AMERICAN CHILD CAN READ WELL AND INDEPENDENTLY. Less than a year ago, the Secretary of Education issued a regulation allowing the Federal Work-Study Program to pay 100 percent of the wages for students who work as reading tutors for elementary school children, and the President named a steering committee of 21 college and university presidents who volunteered to start their own programs and to encourage other colleges to do the same. As of today, 790 colleges and universities have pledged tutors to America Reads.
TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT BY PRESIDENT CLINTON IS ANOTHER STEP FORWARD IN HIS EFFORT TO INVOLVE COLLEGE STUDENTS IN HELPING EVERY CHILD TO READ. On August 26, 1996, in Wyandotte, Michigan, President Clinton announced his America Reads Challenge, a $2.75 billion plan to make sure that every American child is literate by the end of 3rd grade.
In September 1996, he challenged colleges to commit a substantial part of their increase in work-study funding -- the FY 1997 Budget included a 35% increase -- to community service, including tutoring reading. In November 1996, President Clinton instructed the Secretary of Education to issue a regulation allowing the Federal Work-Study Program to pay 100 percent of the wages for students who work as reading tutors for elementary school children.
In December 1996, the President announced the creation of a 21-member steering committee of college presidents who volunteered to start their own programs and to encourage other colleges to do the same.
In February 1997, the President announced the creation of D.C. Reads, a tutoring effort involving seven local colleges and universities.
Today, the President is reporting on the nationwide involvement of colleges and universities in the America Reads Work Study Challenge.
CONGRESS NEEDS TO PROVIDE THE SUPPORT STRUCTURE FOR THESE AND OTHER
There is enormous interest in America Reads on college campuses and in communities, but to tap this interest effectively requires a commitment of resources for training, coordination, and materials. That is why the President insisted that this investment be a part of the Bipartisan Balanced Budget Agreement. The President's five-year, $2.75 billion proposal, which was forwarded to Congress in April, would fund 25,000 reading specialists and coordinators to mobilize 1 million tutors for 3 million children in grades K-3 who need help. Recognizing that parents are their children's first and most important teachers, the America Reads Challenge Act would also foster effective programs to provide assistance for interested parents to provide the firm foundation their children need to do well in school and to become successful readers.
THE AMERICA READS INITIATIVE ALSO INCORPORATES OTHER PROGRAMS, including early childhood development through the expansion of Head Start and Even Start; bringing the best teaching practices to classrooms; supporting research and evaluation of reading; and building partnerships with the private sector, including following up on related commitments to the Service Summit.