LANSING — State Reps. William Sowerby (D-Clinton Township), Andy Schor (D-Lansing) Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park), Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) announced the Better Outcomes in Literacy and Development plan to address Michigan’s ongoing literacy crisis at Lansing’s Education Child Care Center (EC3) today. 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.

“We need to create a stronger learning environment for our youngest of children to increase their reading skills,” said Sowerby. “This will result in better achievement in school and the workforce. My bill will make sure that parents and caregivers have access to reading support materials through their libraries. This program is a simple way to get valuable cost-free materials and information to parents throughout Michigan.”

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.

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

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • Designate October 2017 as School Library Month in Michigan. (Rep. Brinks)