House Passes Bipartisan READ Act
On January 24, less than one month into the new legislative session, Congress showed that the goal of providing quality education for all children is still a bipartisan issue by unanimously passing the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act through the House of Representatives.
The bill targets the 263 million children throughout the globe who are not currently attending school. It provides guidelines to create a U.S. strategy committed to improving educational opportunities and tackling barriers to school attendance and completion. The bill includes a yearly report to Congress and the public on the state of global educational accessibility. The law would also create a “Senior Coordinator” position in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who would be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the U.S. strategy around the world. The legislation also seeks to guarantee that education will not be interrupted by conflict or other emergencies in unstable countries.
The bill does all this while improving the transparency of basic education programs to ensure that US taxpayer dollars are spent in the most impactful way, leveraging the United States’ ability to do the best work it can in global education.
The READ Act is very similar to the Education for All (EFA) Act, which GCE-US coalition members played an active role in supporting. EFA also passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on International Literacy Day, September 7, 2016. The EFA Act was also introduced in the Senate but was not voted on before the legislative session ended in December 2016.
The READ Act was introduced by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), and garnered popular support from both parties. Before the vote the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R-CA), noted the urgency of this bill, stating, “It has been decades since Congress reviewed and updated the authorities on which U.S. international basic education efforts are based.” Royce went on to avidly praise the bill, “We all recognize the importance of education as a driver of economic growth, social mobility, and overall stability. Even one extra year of schooling has been found to significantly increase a worker’s earnings and lifespan.”
“Prioritizing children’s access to education around the world strengthens our national security and global leadership” said Congressman Lowey about the bill. “Simply put, we cannot build the world we want for ourselves, and for future generations, without making education the center of our efforts.”
The READ Act certifies that the United States stands firm in its commitment to making the world a better place. The bill was unanimously approved, showing clear bipartisan support for global education. Because of the READ Act, the world will be closer than ever to affirming that every child is afforded their right to a basic education.
Brian Callahan is the Policy and Advocacy Director and Benjamin Strongin is the Policy Intern at GCE-US.