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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release January 24, 1999
                     WILL SEEK $128 MILLION INCREASE 

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced today that the Administration will seek an additional $128 million in the FY2000 budget to help children learn to read well.

This proposal, including an increase of $26 million for the Reading Excellence Act and $50 million for a new initiative to identify and address reading problems in young children, will help schools and communities respond to the President's challenge that every child should be able to read well and independently by the end of the third grade.

"In an economy increasingly powered by information and technology, reading and the ability to learn are strategic skills," Vice President Gore said. "We must help all of our children master the basics and learn to read well in order to help them succeed in the 21st century."

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 60 percent of 4th graders read at the basic level or higher. Research shows that students who fail to read well by the 4th grade are at greater risk of educational failure and that good reading skills provide an important foundation for subsequent learning and success. In order to address this need, the Clinton Administration launched the "America Reads" challenge and worked with Congress to pass the Reading Excellence Act last year to help more than 500,000 children in pre-kindergarten through third grade learn to read through expanded teacher training, family literacy programs, tutoring and other efforts.

To expand on these efforts, the Vice President announced today that the Administration will propose:

     A $26 million increase in the Reading Excellence Act to help an
     additional 50,000 children learn to read through expanded teacher
     training, family literacy programs, tutoring, and other efforts.

     An increase of $10 million for the Even Start Family Literacy 
     Program to support family-centered education projects helping 
     parents learn literacy and parenting skills while supporting 
     early childhood education for young children.

     $50 million for a new school-based primary education intervention
     program to identify and address reading problems for children 
     aged 5-9.  While research demonstrates the effectiveness of early
     interventions to address reading problems and learning 
     disabilities, 60% of children eventually placed in special 
     education are identified too late to receive the full benefit 
     from such interventions.  This initiative will help schools 
     develop and implement research-based strategies to identify and 
     address reading problems in the early grades to reach children 
     earlier and give them the extra help they need to become good 

     A $7 million increase for initiatives to improve writing and 
     reading skills, including an expansion of the National Writing 
     Project and the creation of a new competitive grant program to 
     develop and evaluate models of effective writing instruction.  
     Improved writing skills provide an essential foundation for 
     literacy and reading, and this proposal would double the level 
     of funding for these initiatives.

     $35 million for new research on early childhood and early 
     elementary reading, professional development for reading 
     instruction, English language acquisition for limited English 
     proficient children, and improvements in literacy for older 

     Moreover, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have recently

announced other major increased investments to help students learn to read and do well academically. They recently announced a proposed increase of $400 million for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to provide after-school and summer school programs for more than a million students around the nation. In awarding these funds, the Education Department will give priority to school districts that end social promotion by requiring that students meet academic standards in order to move to the next grade -- but use these funds to give students extra help after-school and in the summer to help them succeed.

The Vice President also recently announced a $320 million proposed increase for Title I -- the largest federal elementary and secondary education program -- to help disadvantaged students master the basics like reading and reach high academic standards. $200 million of this increase would be used by states to identify and intervene in low-performing schools.