Legislative Action Team Advisory

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Write your Congressman to cosponsor the Striving Readers Act

Write your Congressman to cosponsor the Striving Readers Act
In February, IRA asked you to contact your senators and urge them to become cosponsors of the Striving Readers Act (S. 958), and your efforts have truly paid off. The legislation now has 16 bipartisan cosponsors in addition to the bill’s original sponsors, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

On May 14, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) introduced similar legislation (H.R. 2289) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and IRA is again asking you to reach out to your members of Congress.

In the past year, IRA, along with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Alliance for Excellent Education, has advocated for an expansion of the Striving Readers program. Initiated by President Bush in 2004, Striving Readers aims to enhance the overall level of reading achievement in middle level and high schools through improvements to the quality of literacy instruction across the curriculum, improve the literacy skills of struggling adolescent readers, and help build a strong scientific research base around specific strategies that improve adolescent literacy skills.

Although never authorized by Congress, Striving Readers received more than $30 million in FY 2007. However, this funding level only supports grants in eight school districts and is not nearly enough to address the more than 8 million students in grades 4–12 who read below grade level. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education received 148 applications for those eight grants, showing that there is a clear need for an additional investment. Although the federal government allocates more than $1 billion annually for the Reading First program ($72 per child in grades K–3), only 13 cents is provided for each middle level and high school student.

The Striving Readers Act would authorize $200 million in FY 2007 with annual increases up to $1 billion in FY 2011 for grants that would be awarded to states on a formula basis according to poverty levels and eighth-grade reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Local districts could then use these funds to develop schoolwide literacy plans and provide professional development for school leaders and teachers in core academic subjects to create “a culture of literacy” within the schools.

Please contact your representative and encourage him or her to cosponsor the Striving Readers Act (H.R. 2289). Although a draft form letter has been provided for you, it is suggested that you personalize the message with stories from your own school.

If your Reprsentative has already sponsored H.R. 2289, please send them a thank you note.

H.R. 2289: Sponsored by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA)
Cosponsors as of May 15, 2007: Boyd (D-FL), Chandler (D-KY), Hínojosa (D-TX), McGovern (D-WA), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rogers (R-AL), Bonner (R-AL), Regula (R-OH), Grijalva (R-AZ), Altmire (D-PA), Hirono (D-HI)

Personalize areas in bold


The Honorable NAME
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr/Mrs. NAME:

I am a (Fill in your title/occupation) working at (your school) in (city/state). I ask you to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 2289 The Striving Readers Act of 2007 which was introduced on May 14, 2007 in the United States House of Representatives by Congressman John Yarmuth and Congressman Todd Plats.

This bill will vastly expand the capacity of schools to help older students who struggle with reading by establishing adolescent literacy initiatives aimed at increasing high school graduation and college readiness.

As a teacher I see everyday the need for additional reading instruction for my students. (Give very short personal example of how funds could be used to)
• increase the number of student receiving instruction
• increase the number of middle and high schools in your district who could implement adolescent literacy into their curriculum.
• increase the number of teachers in professional development courses
• any other ideas

This legislation will expand and authorize the current Striving Readers Program that funds only eight grants. The Striving Readers Act of 2007 (H.R. 2289) will make funding available to every state to implement school wide adolescent literacy programs, support statewide initiates, and allow data collection and rigorous evaluation to document program success. In addition, this bill will prepare teachers to incorporate literacy strategies in core academic classes and will assist parents by training them to support their children’s literacy development.
Every child has the right to quality reading instruction by a qualified reading professional. Please support the Striving Readers Act of 2007 (H.R. 2289).

Thank you,


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