October 5, 1998
The Administration urges Senate passage of H.R. 2614, as amended by the
pending manager's substitute; although, the Administration opposes the
provision that inappropriately links implementation of the Reading
Excellence Act with increases in special education funding.
While it differs from the President's original proposal, H.R. 2614 is largely consistent with the President's goal of ensuring that all children read well and independently by the end of the third grade. The bill would: (1) improve teachers' ability to teach reading effectively; (2) promote family literacy programs to help parents be their child's first teachers; and (3) improve the quality of tutoring programs by supporting tutor training.
The Administration, however, objects to the provision of H.R. 2614 that would prevent implementation of these important initiatives unless certain funding goals are met under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA funding levels should be determined in the annual appropriations process on the same program-by-program basis as other programs. Moreover, many children are referred to special education programs because of their reading difficulties. Research shows that many of these reading difficulties could be remediated without special education, if these problems were discovered and addressed early by trained teachers and involved parents, precisely the kind of activities that the rest of the bill would support.