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February 25, 1999


CHICAGO -- Gov. George H. Ryan today proclaimed March 2 as "Read to Kids Day" in an effort to improve student reading skills throughout Illinois.

"We know that reading is the fundamental basis of learning," Ryan said. "If we are going to follow through on our commitment to children throughout Illinois, we need to improve their reading skills."

Ryan visited the James Shields Elementary School in Chicago to engage students, parents, educators and others, to renew Illinois' commitment to literacy and re-establish the importance of reading.

"Read to Kids Day" is sponsored by the National Education Association, in co-sponsorship with the Illinois Education Association, as part of their "Read Across America" campaign to encourage every child and every community across America to celebrate reading on March 2. Scholastic also contributed to the event by donating 100 books for the governor to present to the school's library.

This proclamation is just part of the plan to improve education in Illinois.

During his budget address last week, Ryan followed through on his promise to the kids and parents of Illinois that at least 51 percent of all new monies would go to education and job training.

He proposed an increase of $536 million in general funds and federal funds for education, the hiring of new teachers and workforce training. The $486 million in general funds for schools and training represents 53 percent of the growth in general funds appropriations and 58 percent of the growth in general funds revenues.

Ryan also proposed spending a total of $7.9 billion on elementary, secondary and higher education, as well as workforce preparedness, in Fiscal Year 2000.


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