Senate Approves Literacy Bill
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A bill to help young children learn to read cleared the Senate on Tuesday in time for President Clinton and Republicans to claim another legislative achievement for schools this election season.
The bill _ a compromise between separate measures approved earlier by the House and Senate _ was passed by a voice vote. It goes to the House.
The legislation, supported by the Clinton administration, would authorize $260 million worth of grants in this budget year and in the next. The money _ targeted to areas with large numbers of poor people _ would go to states wanting to improve literacy and to school districts to devise such things as tutoring programs for children and their parents. Money also would be used for teacher training.
The bill ``provides children, parents, schools and communities with the resources and opportunities they need to improve child and family literacy,″ said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., ranking Democrat on the Labor and Human Resources Committee.
``This legislation is targeted to address the major factors that have been identified to increase literacy levels,″ said Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., who chairs the committee.
The measure is prompted by findings on the National Assessment of Educational Progress that 40 percent of fourth-graders do not read at a basic level.
Clinton has been pushing a literacy bill since his re-election campaign two years ago. The administration supports the bill although it departs from his original proposal to use federal dollars to train volunteer tutors.
Despite the success of this bill, Democratic proposals to hire teachers and build schools using federal dollars remain mired in controversy. The same goes for Republican proposals to use tax breaks and vouchers for private and parochial school tuition as well as those to end some federal programs by turning the money for them over to states.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Kennedy, said a catchall spending bill that Congress is expected to pass this week is likely to contain money to carry out the reading bill.
The bill is H.R. 2614