June 7, 2011 – Progress on the LEARN Act (Literacy for Every American, Results for the Nation) continue. The Senator Murray (D-WA) has reintroduced the measure, with some changes from the version introduced in the last Congress. It is expected to be included in debate on rewriting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act when it comes before the Senate education committee. Currently, the Senate education committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – the HELP Committee) is expected to take up the reauthorization by the end of June. According to staff members of the committee, the chairman and the ranking minority member are meeting to draft a basic agreement. If this fails, the democrats are expected to move their version in committee.
On the House side, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has begun their reauthorization process with the reporting out of the first of five measure, HR 1891. HR 1891 deauthorizes 43 elementary and secondary education programs. Several of these are literacy programs, such as striving readers, the National Writing Project, and Reading is Fundamental. The senior democrats on the committee offered a series of amendments to replace the programs with new authorizations. The literacy amendment, as did all but one of the amendments failed on a party line vote. The one amendment that passed was to support parent programs.
The LEARN Act is expected to be reintroduced on the House side within the next several weeks. It will be very similar to the version introduced in the Senate.
The LEARN Act would provide funds to states to support literacy professional development programs in schools with large numbers of families living in poverty. Some of the work done by the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program (state applications were submitted to US ED on May 9th), such as that state literacy teams meeting and submitting reports would flow into the work of this bill. The majority of these state literacy plans focus on developing a broad knowledge of literacy and literacy instruction from age 0 to grade 12. They make use of evidenced based information but are not pushing or outlining the purchase of any set of programs, adoption of any specific techniques or assessments.