Democratic Legislators Announce B.O.L.D. Education Plan

Better Outcomes in Literacy and Development plan targets reading for youngest students

LANSING — State Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) was joined by Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), William Sowerby (D-Clinton Township), Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) at Lansing’s Education Child Care Center (EC3) today to announce the Better Outcomes in Literacy and Development plan to address Michigan’s ongoing literacy crisis. The package of bills is a result of the literacy workgroup that Rep. Camilleri formed to address the reading crisis facing Michigan’s students and families. Michigan ranks 41st in the country in reading.

“While almost every other state’s reading proficiency has improved over the last decade, proficiency in Michigan has done the opposite,” said Rep. Camilleri, a former high school social studies teacher and member of the House Education Reform Committee. “I am proud of our work group’s plan to address our state’s literacy crisis by expanding access to quality child care and early education programs and supporting early and effective reading interventions.”     

“I share my colleagues’ concern about literacy outcomes in our state, and this B.O.L.D. Education Plan is an important component in addressing that problem by setting our students up for success,” said Rep. Schor. “Studies have consistently shown that expanding access to early childhood education has significant payoffs down the line, and it’s time we recognize the opportunity we have to make quality programs available to more of our state’s families.”

The 2017 Michigan Student Test of Education Progress (M-STEP) showed little improvement in language arts test scores, which includes reading. On the English language arts section of the test, 47.3 percent of students in grades three through eight were determined to be proficient compared to 47.8 percent achieving proficiency in 2015.

 “This problem of access and quality is particularly troubling for the families of three year olds, who without the current support of programs like Great Start Readiness Program, often cannot afford to send their students to the quality programs that might be available in their community,” said Rep. Zemke, the Democratic vice chair of the House Education Reform Committee. “My bill would expand GSRP to include 3-year-olds, ensuring that we are providing educational opportunities to children at the most critical point in their development”.

The bills in the Better Outcomes in Literacy and Development package would:

  • Expand eligibility for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) to include families with income up to 350 percent of the federal poverty line. Current eligibility is 250 percent. (Rep. Camilleri)
  • Expand Great Start Readiness Program eligibility to 3-year-old children. (Rep. Zemke)
  • Increase the reimbursement rate in the Great Start to Quality Evaluation System to encourage participation in this program. (Rep. Chang)
  • Help identify kindergarten students who are behind in reading earlier to help teachers address their needs quickly. (Rep. Clemente)
  • Increase funding to the in-home visit programs at the ISD level so that they can meet this need in their communities. (Rep. Wittenberg)
  • Increase funding for the Every Child Ready to Read Program offered through libraries to give educational resources on early literacy to parents and caregivers. (Rep. Sowerby)
  • Designate October 2017 as School Library Month in Michigan. (Rep. Brinks)

“With these bills, my colleagues and I are working to get the most out of the proven reading programs that we have,” said Rep. Wittenberg. “Dozens of intermediate school districts qualified for funding for home visits. Increasing funding for these quality ISD programs will let us reach more children so they can get off to a good start and have a greater chance for success.”