(Columbia) April 22, 2003 - South Carolina is getting nearly $14 million in federal funds this year through the Reading First program. The money is the first phase of a nearly $90 million grant the state will get as part of President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education program.
While all South Carolina schools will see some of the money, Governor Mark Sanford says the money will allow 36 schools in South Carolina to start research-based reading programs for students from kindergarten through third grade. Sanford says the money is a big help during the state's budget problems.
Sanford, along with Congressman Joe Wilson, State Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum and US Department of Education Director Chris Doherty announced the multi-million dollar grant Tuesday morning at Annie Burnside Elementary School on Patterson Road in Columbia.
Reading First is designed to get all children reading at the appropriate grade level by third grade. The program will mean $13.6 million every year for the next six years for South Carolina schools.
Hippopotamus is just one of the words kindergartners master each day at Burnside Elementary in Columbia. The kids were really getting the hang of reading rather than simply peeking at the pictures.
Teacher Dawn Key gets some help from a literacy coach. Tammy Gacek not only pitches in with story time, but she also teaches the teacher ways to help a large group of students learn, even when they're at very different skill levels, "It's a really complex process and we help to demystify the process for teachers so they can reach any kid anytime."
The coaching program will be enhanced thanks to the new multi-million dollar grant. Key spelled out the benefits, "I had one child that didn't even know how to handle a book correctly, now she's running up to me with books going, 'Look I can read it.'"
Coach Gacek says when you've got the right resources, every child can find out what it feels like to get lost in a good book, "What the kids have taught me is they're really brilliant. Even the lowest reader can make progress if you give them the tools."
The South Carolina Department of Education will selected the 36 participating schools by the fall. Those schools will be subject to intensive study and special attention.
Additional Grant Facts
1.) Number of South Carolina K-3 teachers who will get training in teaching reading with Reading First grant funds?
All K-3 teachers statewide (about 20,000).
2.) Number of special education teachers who will get training in teaching reading with grant funds?
All special ed teachers statewide (about 5,000).
3.) Number of South Carolina school districts where individual schools will be eligible to apply for one of the 36 subgrants?
There are 51 districts (out of 85 total) where individual Title 1 schools can apply for a subgrant. Here's a list of those districts: