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September 12, 2000

First Lady, State Board of Education Kick-Off Reading Initiative

CHICAGO -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced "Illinois Reads," a consolidation and coordination of the state's reading programs throughout the state.

"Reading is a basic tool for literacy, opportunity and lifelong learning," said Mrs. Ryan. "Governor Ryan's 'Illinois Reads' will provide a framework for all reading and literacy-related initiatives in Illinois, bringing everyone together for a unified effort."

Mrs. Ryan and State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee unveiled the new program at Chicago's Dixon Elementary School. Dixon has been recognized for its exemplary reading programs, and it is the only Illinois school to receive the International Reading Association 2000 award.

Governor Ryan's Advisory Council on Literacy will oversee "Illinois Reads." This is a dynamic program that will be responsive to several evaluative measures.

"Numerous educational surveys have indicated that children who do not read at grade level by the end of third grade have an uphill battle throughout the rest of their school career and on into the workplace," said Mrs. Ryan. "By making reading a priority, we are giving our children the tools they need to be productive and successful."

"The governor has made sure that education in Illinois is our highest priority, and the "Illinois Reads" initiative is another strong step in the this direction," said Superintendent McGee.

In Governor Ryan's first two years in office, he has committed at least 51 percent of all new state revenues to education and job training. The Fiscal Year 2001 budget includes $53 million for early childhood programs, reading grants and summer bridges programming.

The state budget also includes $5 million for family literacy programs and another $6.5 million for assorted reading programs statewide.

Improved coordination of state reading programs will build on reading services and partnerships already available through parent teacher associations, senior volunteers in schools, and other literacy programs. Many local school districts sponsor innovative reading programs and partner with local family literacy programs.

A special website, operated by the State Board of Education is being created to provide a single-stop for all existing and future state reading and literacy-related initiatives. Links will enable quick access to information and programs throughout the state.


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