Center for Development and Learning Leads Literacy Efforts During 2021 Louisiana Legislative Session
The Center for Development and Learning joined with several legislative and state agency partners, as well as a host of stakeholders, as literacy and early childhood development were key focus areas for the 2021 regular session of the Louisiana legislature, which concluded June 12. The Center remains committed to its core values and priorities as it relates to advocating for students.
As part of the literacy package, the Center spearheaded efforts to recreate the Early Literacy Commission (ELC). The ELC, which ended legislatively in December 2020, was originally created in 2019 thanks to efforts then of the Center. SR133 (S. Hewitt) and HR119 (J. Hughes) were companion pieces from each chamber to recreate the ELC. The Commission’s report, released earlier this year, provided numerous recommendations taken up during the 2021 session to address the literacy deficits in Louisiana.
Among legislation supported by the Center, including testimony in education committees, were:
- SB216 (R. Mills) to require all Louisiana K-3 teachers receive training in the Science of Reading literacy instruction. Louisiana Department of Education anticipates utilizing its share of federal recovery dollars to provide the training within the next five year and calls for the department to have a plan to do so by December 1, 2021.
- SB233 (S. Hewitt) provide for an early literacy assessment for every public-school student in grades K-3 at no cost to the local schools beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. This legislation will also require reporting and data sharing on student performance relative to literacy attainment through third grade, a critical benchmark year for lifelong learning attainment and success.
- HB85 (S. McKnight) to create a literacy program for students in need of intensive interventions and names the program the “Steve Carter Literacy Program.” The legislation creates a framework for a statewide intervention literacy program for those students in grades K-3 identified as most critical in need of such services. Unfortunately, the appropriation for this program was not realized but The Center continues to work with partners to identify potential funding sources.
- HCR11 (J. Hughes) Requests the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education develop a plan for providing school literacy coaches for students in kindergarten through second grade in elementary schools identified as needing improvement
In addition to these literacy focused bills, the Center also worked to advance initiatives in the early childhood space. One such piece was SB142 (R. Ward), supported by the Ready Louisiana Coalition of which the Center is a member, commits 25% of revenue generated via sports wagering to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund.
The Center’s efforts in advocacy and ensuring research-based, sound policy does not end with the conclusion of the 2021 Legislative session. In fact, prior to the session, the Center hosted an important conversation on the intersection of literacy and economic development. This fall, the Center will continue this and other important conversations throughout Louisiana by hosting a series of regional roundtables.
John E. Wyble, Ph.D.
CEO and President, Center for Development and Learning