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September 12, 2000

H.R. 3222 - Literacy Involves Families Together Act
(Rep. Goodling (R) PA and 31 cosponsors)

The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 3222, but will work with the Senate to improve the bill, consistent with the President's proposals for reauthorization of the Even Start family literacy program under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Specifically, the Administration has the following concerns about H.R. 3222, as reported:
  • Funding for Statewide literacy initiatives should be at the discretion of the Secretary of Education, not required by the statute. Other authorized activities, such as direct family literacy services to eligible families, may constitute a better use of funds in a given year.

  • Federal funding for particular projects should generally be limited to eight years, so that other deserving projects can be funded in areas where they are needed.

  • The Administration supports the involvement of the National Institute for Literacy in adult and family literacy programs and in carrying out research as authorized under Even Start provisions of H.R. 3222, but believes that authority for setting the agenda for such research carried out with Even Start funds should remain with the Secretary.

  • Local projects should not be required to reflect "scientifically based reading research", in accordance with the very rigorous definition of that term in Section 2252 of the ESEA. Given the current state of available research in early childhood education and family literacy, the bill should instead require projects to incorporate the best available research in those areas.

  • To help ensure that children do not lose their skills and knowledge over the summer, local projects should be required to provide instructional services during that period, as proposed by the President.