Sen. Michael Lee among lawmakers sponsoring bill to improve reading literacy in state’s youngest students

Sen. Michael Lee among lawmakers sponsoring bill to improve reading literacy in state’s youngest students
Senator Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) is one of the primary sponsors of a bill that aims to increase reading literacy in the state’s youngest students. (Source: Live 5 News)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Senator Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) is one of the primary sponsors of a bill that aims to increase reading literacy in the state’s youngest students.

Lee, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) filed the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021, which builds on the Read to Achieve program Sen. Berger helped to establish in 2013 to raise reading proficiency in students by the third grade. Among its initiatives, the bill establishes an Early Literacy Program inside the state Department of Public Instruction, using the Science of Reading for children enrolled in the Pre-Kindergarten program.

“This program is not only going to provide age-appropriate resources to Pre-K children, our youngest children, it’s also going to train our educators and administrators to work with Pre-K students, to ensure the instruction is not only developmentally appropriate, but is in line with the Science of Reading,” Sen. Lee said at a news conference touting the legislation.

Sen. Berger said the bill does contain some of the initiatives found in a similar bill, the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2019, that passed the General Assembly only to be vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. He hoped to get support from Democrats in the legislature to back this new effort.

“I do believe this is one of those things that should not have a political component to it,” Sen. Berger said. “Philosophically, I think we all want to make sure that kids have the opportunity and the best chance to gain the skill of reading.”

According to Sen. Berger, the bill will likely be heard in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee, which Sen. Lee chairs, on Tuesday. It could be brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote by the end of the week.

You can read the text of the bill by clicking here.

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