Bush Promises Extra Funding for Reading First
In the new education bill, reading and literacy funding will rise by 11 percent. These funds will be spent in a new program called Reading First. For 2002, the program's inaugural year, Congress allocated $900 million to this program.
President George Bush and U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige will push for a federal investment of $1 billion in next year's education budget.
Their rationale is simple. Reading is the foundation for all learning, Paige says. "Children who are never taught to read well may never perform at their full potential."
Reading First was the government's replacement for the Reading Excellence Act, a literacy program that expired last year. The new program is slated to run until 2006. The government's goal is to give states and local districts annual resources to improve K-3 reading instruction.
Officials in California are pleased ith the increased funding. "We will apply Reading First resources to turn around the lowest performing schools," says Terry Emmett, administrator of the state's Reading and Language Arts Leadership Office. In 2002, California stands to receive $133 million. This is a marked increase from the $60 million the state was granted during the last two academic years.
The DOE is urging state education administrators to apply as soon as possible for the 2002 funds that are available. Under the peer-reviewed grant program, each application will be scrutinized to ensure state and local programs match the DOE's stated intentions. There is no deadline for applications, but review begins May 1. For more information, call 202-401-4877. www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/readingfirst
The New Director of Education Technology Has Big Plans
John Bailey was already planning his first big technology initiative after only a few weeks into his new job as director of the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education. His first self-assigned task was to meet with the state education technology directors from all 50 states.
"One of our first efforts is to learn their needs and to help with funding opportunities," Bailey says.
Bailey replaces Linda Roberts, a Clinton appointee, as the top technology executive in the U.S. Department of Education.
His next move will be setting up a Web-based system that connects the technology directors and enlists their ongoing opinions about education and technology.
Bailey wants to make sure the $700 million allocated to the states for technology spending in the No Child Left Behind bill is fairly distributed to the states and their school districts.
It also fits with his past experience as Pennsylvania's first director of educational technology, where he played a key role in Gov. Tom Ridge's Linkto-Learn program. Now he applies that experience to a national effort.
"Throughout the new education bill, there are various types of programs mentioned that schools can use to implement technology," Bailey says. The Reading First initiative is one example.
"On the surface, this doesn't seem to be a technology program," Bailey says. But the bill mentions that districts can apply for technology funds to buy software that supports literacy.
His office will also have to define a balance between brick-and-mortar buildings and cyber schools that can be operated oblivious to state borders. Some questions that he expects, include: how to set course credits, how to manage state teacher certification standards and funding. "If a student in California is enrolled in a cyber school based in Georgia, which state pays for the education?" asks Bailey. "Which state is responsible for ensuring that student's quality of education?"
He doesn't have the answers, he admits. But he's already asking the necessary questions.