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March 21, 2001

Governor Announces New Literacy Goals and Touts Progress

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan thanked the Advisory Council on Literacy for the "Illinois Reads: Report on Literacy in Illinois," detailing the current status of literacy initiatives and establishing future goals for the coming year.

"This report is a tribute to the work of our dedicated advisory council and countless people across the state who are working to make Illinois a state of readers," said Governor Ryan. "We know how important it is for our children to be armed with reading skills by the end of third grade, and we also know that adult education and literacy programs are an important link in meeting Illinois' growing need for a skilled workforce."

Promoting literacy has been a top priority in Governor Ryan's administration. The Governor's Advisory Council on Literacy was formed on May 27, 1999, by Executive Order 11, and consists of 20 members representing diverse interests. The Office on Literacy and the advisory council aim to increase the number of literate adults and help all children read well by the end of third grade.

On September 12, 2000, Governor Ryan Launched the Illinois Reads initiative to coordinate and improve literacy policies and programs. Illinois Reads maintains a website (illinoisreads.org) that is a clearinghouse of reading and literacy resources in Illinois.

Highlights of the Literacy Report include:

  • In Fiscal Year 2001, Illinois received increased federal funding for literacy programs. These new funds represent a $4 million increase for adult education and literacy, $3.6 million for Even Start Family Literacy, $6.5 million in Title 1 funds, and $58 million for special education.

  • More than 50 percent of adult education in Illinois is to meet the needs of foreign born individuals who are unable to speak, read or write English. In June of 2000, Illinois received $1.5 million for Integrated English Literacy programming, the sixth largest grant from the US Department of Education.

  • Illinois Reading Kits were distributed across the state. These kits provide pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade teachers, elementary school administrators, and child care providers with resources to help children become better readers. Next year the kits will be expanded to include specialized materials for bilingual resources, special education/early intervention, and grade three classroom teachers.

  • Eight regional Parent Connection centers work through local schools to strengthen the connection between home and school, particularly for reading. If parents read to their children 30 minutes a day from birth, by the time those children reach Kindergarten, they will have been exposed to more than 900 hours of reading. Those children start out their school career with a head start over children who have not been exposed to reading.

  • Through First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan's Futures for Kids initiative, Quality Counts vans have been dispatched across the state. These vans are equipped with reading readiness materials for distribution to child care centers and at-home care providers to give them access to quality teaching methods and resources.

  • Adult Education and Literacy programs will be transferred to the Illinois Community College Board on July 1, 2001, according to P.A. 91-830. Seventy percent of the individuals in adult education and literacy programming were already being served by Illinois Community Colleges.

  • Through Governor Ryan's Illinois Workforce Advantage (IWA), Illinois will be able to create more public awareness about literacy and inform citizens about the literacy programs that are available and how they can utilize these services.

The Governor's Advisory Council on Literacy will work to meet the following goals in the coming year:

  • Encourage increased parental involvement in reading;

  • Increase teacher training and professional development in reading;

  • Enhance workplace literacy programs;

  • Increase GED passage rate; and

  • Enhance library/school partnerships.

A list of the Governor's Advisory Council on Literacy is attached.

Governor's Advisory Council on Literacy

Tamara Baloun, Council Chair
Bank One Corporation

Dale Christianson
Literacy Volunteers of America - Illinois

John Davis
Southern Illinois University

Brenda Diehl
Illinois PTA

Bernadette Fallow
McLean-Fogg Company

Barbara Haas
Illinois Reading Council

Susan Kidder
Literacy Chicago

Suzanne Knell
Illinois Literacy Resource Development Center

Mark Kaufman
Marriott Corporation International

Len Lieberman
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago

Susan Lucco
Lewis and Clark Library System

Dr. Clem Mejia
Regional Supt. of Schools for Kane County

Dr. Curtis McCray
National-Louis University

John Muirhead
Illinois Adult and Continuing Education Association

Judith Rake
State Library

Daniel Rich
Rich Lumber Company

Gina Ruther
Illinois Head Start Collaboration Office

Senator Paul Simon
Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University

Dr. William Simpson
John Wood Community College

Paul Vallas
Chicago Public Schools


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