OPINION: Literacy investments help make Idaho students lifelong readers

Friday March 4, 2022

By Governor Brad Little

Whenever I am asked about teachers who influenced me growing up, I recall Mrs. Summers, my first grade teacher.

She taught reading to her students in a way that instilled in me a lifelong love of reading.

I am better off today for the guidance of Mrs. Summers, and now, as Governor, I want to make sure every Idaho student has the same opportunity I had to strengthen their reading skills from a young age and ensure success in education and life.

My priority has been and will continue to be getting all Idaho kids to read proficiently by the end of third grade. It just makes sense. Our investments in education later will have more impact if we can give students a strong start. It is not only our constitutional obligation but our moral obligation as well.

I have always been an advocate for full-day Kindergarten for those districts that choose to implement it. Thankfully, Idaho's system of public education is locally driven, with input from parents, and it will remain that way.

My Leading Idaho plan includes an additional $46 million for literacy, which may go toward offering full-day Kindergarten for families that want it in many parts of the state.

This means we will be directing $73 million ongoing to districts to ensure our kids can read proficiently by the end of third grade.

With this added investment, we will have increased funding for literacy five-fold since I took office as Governor just over three years ago. It is an accomplishment I am truly proud of.

The increased resources can be utilized by districts to address literacy based on their own needs. Some districts may choose to use the dollars for full-day Kindergarten, and other districts may choose to use them for after school reading programs.

I have always supported addressing needs through flexibility. Each district is different, and the money needs to be flexible to ensure success.

I hope that years from now every Idahoan will be able to reflect on their education and think back, like I do now, about someone who helped them learn to love reading from a young age. With the historic literacy investments I am seeking through our "Leading Idaho" plan, we will get there!

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