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Arne Duncan Wants to Expand Striving Readers Program

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At a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee this morning, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he would like to increase funding for the federal government's Striving Readers program from $35 million to $370 million per year. He said he also wants to extend the program from operating only in middle and high schools to elementary schools. (It's likely that he's referring to the upper elementary school grades that weren't covered under the federal Reading First program. A draft bill is circulating in Congress that could provide a program that could be a replacement for Reading First.)

Duncan added that he "worries" about adolescent literacy, a topic that's creating lots of buzz lately in education circles. The Alliance for Excellent Education has more information about the Obama administration's proposal for expanding Striving Readers in a summary of the administration's proposed budget.

It turns out that one of my colleagues here at Education Week, Dakarai Aarons, wrote about this program in the Memphis city schools back in 2006 when he was a reporter for The Commercial Appeal, a newspaper there. He reported then that in the Memphis district, a $16 million grant from Striving Readers was being used to train core-subject teachers in how to integrate literacy strategies into their lessons and to direct interventions to struggling readers.

I see that Chicago is one of the school districts that has received a Striving Readers grant. So I guess Duncan must feel that the program was working well there when he was superintendent.

See more about what Duncan said at the hearing over at Politics K-12 and at Catherine Gewertz's new blog, High School Connections

1 Comment

Please talk to practicing educators and administrators before the new regulations are drawn for Striving Reader grants. It is presently one of the worst examples of "scientific" design I have seen in my 40 years in education. There are ways to get hard data that do not harm children. Present regs DO harm that 50% of students in need that are denied services. I cannot imagine that any responsible educator would agree that this is sound practice. I have had countless emails to that effect from irate districts who will not apply under the current regs. I don't mean to be critical of the folks who put this together. I know they meant well. But we have to "first do no harm" and this situation is totally unacceptable. Please talk to me and to others out there in the trenches who really understand how damaging this program, as currently conceived, will be. I will be happy to supply the names and contact information for others who are equally concerned. Donna Gunn, Ed.D. Learning, Evalution and Resources Network, 512-291-3593.

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