Houlahan, Westerman Introduce Bipartisan Literacy Bill

March 3, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.) introduced the bipartisan Reading Early and Addressing Dyslexia (READ) Act.

“Dyslexia is a learning disability that students with proper reading instruction can overcome,” Westerman said. “I’ve worked hard as the co-chair of the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus to find real solutions to help students learn to read, so they can read to learn. Arkansas has been a national leader in implementing the science of reading in our schools, and we’re already seeing positive results. The READ Act would build on these ideas by creating a federal grant program through which other states can better prepare their teachers. I’m glad to join Rep. Houlahan on this important bill.”

“I absolutely loved being a chemistry teacher in north Philadelphia to amazingly engaging eleventh grade students,” Houlahan said. “A lot of people think chemistry is a hard subject. It’s particularly hard and arguably impossible to grasp if you are reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level as many of my students were. Illiteracy is a problem in our education, our economy, and even our health care system. Over $200 million in health care costs is linked to illiteracy each year: when individuals can’t understand their prescription bottle, how can we expect them to stay healthy? We need aggressive action to combat the literacy crisis in our country, and as someone with a background in early childhood literacy, I’m proud to lead the charge. Our READ Act makes clear that we’re fighting to make sure every child learns how to read, and consequently, can find success in their education and livelihoods.”

 Stakeholder Support

“Rep. Houlahan's READ Act will support public schools in implementing the evidenced-based reading and instruction and intervention necessary to mitigate the impact of dyslexia, the most frequently occurring learning disability. Learning Disabilities Association of America is supportive of this effort to enhance teacher knowledge and build the capacity of public schools to serve students at risk for dyslexia and other reading difficulties.” – Dr. Monica McHale-Small, president, Learning Disabilities Association of America

“Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is committed to a literate America and we recognize the critical importance of early intervention for young, struggling readers. We applaud Rep. Houlahan’s leadership on this issue and for joining us in this fight to help every child learn to read. RIF believes that federal investment in early literacy is absolutely vital to addressing our nation’s literacy crisis.” –Alicia Levi, president and CEO, Reading Is Fundamental

Background

More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Both Pennsylvania and Arkansas have been pioneers in addressing the literacy crisis, implementing programs instructing teachers in the science of reading.

The bipartisan READ Act creates a grant program allowing other states to capitalize on what we have learned about how to best support educators in teaching students how to read. 

To read the full bill text, click here.

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