AUSTIN, Texas—Texas First Lady Laura Bush on Tuesday (April 27) addressed the issue of illiteracy and the important role the Texas Family Literacy Center at The University of Texas at Austin is expected to play in enhancing the knowledge and instructional resources available to literacy educators statewide.
Bush joined UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner and other special guests in the College of Education at the George I. Sánchez Building for the official opening of the nation’s first university-based literacy center. Peggy Freedson González and Dr. Lorie Ochoa have been chosen to serve as co-directors of the center, which will work directly with educators who now provide family literacy services to parents and children.
The Texas Family Literacy Center caps the First Lady’s Family Literacy Initiative for Texas, which has awarded about $600,000 to 30 independent literacy programs — part of a partnership between Laura Bush, the Washington, D.C.-based Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and Texas literacy providers.
With another series of individual $20,000 grants under consideration for the year 2000, the initiative has helped lay the groundwork to address Gov. George Bush’s goal that all Texans will be reading on level by the third grade and remain on level thereafter.
Out of 3.9 million students in Texas pre-K-12 public schools, more than one-half million children have limited English proficiency, according to the Texas Education Agency. About 483,000 students within this figure are Spanish-language speakers.
UT Austin’s new Texas Family Literacy Center, which benefited from a startup grant from Austin’s Tapestry Foundation, will help strengthen services available to all families, while featuring a strong commitment to the many children and adults acquiring literacy in a second language.
For more information about literacy programs, the Website address for the Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts at UT Austin is http://www.tenet.edu/teks/language_arts/ The Website for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is http://www.barbarabushfoundation.com