A Reprieve for Reading First?
Reading First may benefit from the lack of action on the fiscal 2009 federal budget. As my colleague Alyson Klein reported this week, Congress passed an extension bill that would essentially provide the same level of funding for the federal reading program as in fiscal 2008. That's $393 million. The figure is less than the $1 billion or more the program had received each year since it was implemented in 2002. But it is far more than the zero funding that two congressional panels proposed in their versions of the fiscal 2009 budget.
Congress passed the extension bill late last month, allowing for the possibility that Reading First will continue to get federal support for another year. But that's only a possibility.
In her story, Alyson writes:
"But the stopgap bill doesn’t mean federal funding of the program will be continued. The money would not be allocated to school districts until July 1. If Congress decides to eliminate the program when it returns to the education spending bills in March, schools won’t receive any new Reading First money."
Regardless of the outcome of the November election, she continues, "the next Congress might simply pass a measure extending the fiscal 2008 funding levels for the Education Department and other federal programs for the remainder of fiscal 2009. If such a yearlong extension is approved, without any changes to the Reading First program, funding for that program may continue through fiscal 2009, a Democratic Senate aide said."