April 22, 2008
I’ve tried, really tried, to keep politics out of it, but I can’t keep my mouth shut any longer. There’s a reading-emergency afoot and we need to do something. THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO CUT ALL FUNDING FOR READING IS FUNDAMENTAL. This is the first time in the history of the program that any administration, Republican or Democratic, has eliminated funding.
Destroying this historic literacy program hits me where I live. Taking books away from children is the last straw. So I’m joining with fellow authors to urge you to send an e-mail message to your reps in congress in support of continued funding. The appropriation committee will be meeting in May and June to decide on budgets.
Let me be clear: This is not a controversial program. From its inception in 1966, RIF has been supported on both sides of the aisle because of its demonstrated success. Regardless of politics, thinking people know that we can either educate our children now, or pay later, when we’re dealing with the known consequences of illiteracy: poverty, increased crime, unemployment, dependence on welfare.
According to Publishers Weekly, “while President Bush continually overlooks the organization, both his wife and mother have held positions within the organization. Barbara Bush served on RIF’s board of directors from 1980 to 1988 and then on its national advisory board from 1989 to 1992 (chairing the advisory board for three of the four years.) Laura Bush served on RIF’s national advisory council from 1996 to 2001.”
So what’ll it be? RIF costs $1.63 per child per year. It costs us $22,650 per prisoner per year to incarcerate a criminal, and yes, there’s a connection. 70% of incarcerated criminals are functionally illiterate.
This administration always finds funding for massive tax cuts to corporations, the super-wealthy, and no-bid contractors. Yet when it comes to the education of low-income children, it’s happy to slash the budget to nothing.
RIF’s Web site provides a link for supporters to find their senator and representative and send an e-mail message in support of continued funding. The appropriation committee will be meeting in May and June to decide on budgets.
Funding for RIF was cut from the 2001 budget, but there was such an uproar that it was reinstated. So roar again! Please! It’s a no-brainer.