First Lady Laura Bush's Education Initiatives
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The Tools to Teach What Works
|"We know that children who have poor beginning reading skills are less likely to develop better reading skills throughout their school careers. Children, who start school behind, often stay behind. We can reverse that trend."|
Through scientific research, we have learned a great deal about the way children learn to read. Education experts agree that we should incorporate stronger pre-reading and vocabulary activities in pre-kindergarten programs.
The Margaret Cone Head Start Center, located in one of Dallas' poorest neighborhoods, implemented a terrific example of a strong pre-kindergarten program. The Cone Center, in partnership with the Texas Instruments Foundation and Southern Methodist University, created the model for the Texas Ready to Read Program.
Mrs. Bush visited the Cone Center in 1998. There she saw the innovative program that had documented success in helping children to enter grade school ready to succeed in reading and learning. When the Cone Center compared the pre- and post-language and reading development scores of its children, the results were outstanding.
The Cone Center visit inspired Mrs. Bush to help more Head Start and other pre-school programs to build similar curriculum and teacher training models around the state. She promoted legislation to create the Ready to Read Pre-school Grant Program.
The Texas Legislature, in turn, appropriated $17 million to replicate pre-reading and language programs like those at the Cone Center around Texas. This appropriation represents the first state-funded commitment to Head Start.
As First Lady, Mrs. Bush will continue to encourage and promote strong cognitive activities and teacher training models in our Head Start Centers and other pre-schools. And, she supports President Bush's Early Reading First Program that will provide grants for pre-school programs to implement curricula rich in pre-reading and vocabulary skills -- skills that are strong predictors of a child's later success in school.