The BBC had a programme on ‘the day before 9/11 in which George Bush was heard declaring a war on illiteracy. I have found a contemporaneous report. But what is interesting, after writing a lot about illiteracy in Britain is to hear it mentioned as a major issue in the USA. Meanwhile, on holiday in France, I came across an article about a teacher there complaining about high rates of illiteracy there, too. It is a terrible reflection on education – nearly all of it state education – in these three countries.
Bush calls for war on illiteracy
With his education plan stalled in Congress, the president stumps at a Jacksonville school.
By STEPHEN HEGARTY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001
JACKSONVILLE — President Bush stumped for his education reform package at a Jacksonville school on Monday by breaking the complex plan down to one of its most compelling components: getting children to read.
With about 50 children sitting cross-legged on the floor before him, and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at his side, the president called on members of Congress to set aside party differences and join him in a “war on illiteracy.”
“I don’t think education should be a partisan issue,” Bush told the audience squeezed into an auditorium at Justina Road Elementary School. “I know reading is not a partisan issue.”
Bush’s education plan has been bogged down in Congress for months. Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the bill, but reconciling the two has proved difficult — even before the economic downturn raised questions about its cost.
In his reading initiative alone, Bush wants to spend $900-million just on reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade.
The full report is here. See further on in the report for controversy there – as in other countries – on the best methods to teach reading.