Gov. Sam Brownback has unveiled an initiative aimed at improving reading proficiency in Kansas grade school students. The initiative will provide grant money for after-school reading programs. But the funding method is controversial.
The plan is to use $9 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), to fund the reading initiative. Gov. Brownback says focusing on reading in children can pay long-term dividends.
“The key to escaping poverty is to be well educated and to find a good job. Both of which are impossible, as I said, if you can’t read,” said Brownback.
The governor’s administration says this is money in reserve after paying the TANF benefits, which are often cash assistance to families for things like food and shelter.
But Shannon Cotsoradis, with Kansas Action for Children, does not support diverting the money for the reading initiative. She says they support the goals of the program, just not using the TANF money.
“Those dollars should be reinvested in core welfare services, things like making sure families are working, providing for childcare and basic cash assistance," said Cotsoradis.
The TANF funds will also be supplemented with private funding.