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CONGRESSMAN ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA American Samoa U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE October 26, 2000


Congressman Eni Faleomavaega announced today that Scholastic Inc., the nation’s largest book publisher and distributor, has agreed to donate over $100,000 in new books to help establish the America Reads Challenge in American Samoa.

The America Reads Challenge encourages communities to become actively involved in the reading process to ensure that every child can read well and independently by the end of third grade. At the same time, the America Reads Challenge increases financial aid opportunities for college students who participate as reading tutors.

"Scholastic Inc. has generously agreed to donate 20,000 new early childhood and elementary books to assist ASCC in establishing a chapter of the America Reads Challenge on its campus," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "Heinz North America, which owns Star Kist Seafood and operates one of its largest canneries in American Samoa, is joining the effort to promote literacy in the early grades by shipping the books from California to Pago Pago."

It is anticipated that the first shipment of books will arrive in the Territory by February 2001. Scholastic will phase the books in over a two year time period. Star Kist Seafood will be on board for each shipment.

"This is good news for our Territory," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "The America Reads Challenge will benefit more than 5,000 kindergarten and elementary students in our Territory. The program will also increase opportunities for our community college students to receive financial aid. In fact, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, issued a regulation that allows the Federal Work-Study Program to pay 100 percent of the wages for college students who work as reading tutors for elementary school children. At more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country, college students are earning financial aid by tutoring children in reading. I am proud that ASCC has taken the initiative to become a part of this very promising program," Congressman Faleomavaega said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, students unable to read well by the end of third grade are more likely to drop out of school and have fewer options for good jobs. Only three in ten fourth-graders read at the proficient level or higher. Four out of ten fourth-graders fail to achieve even partial mastery of the reading skills needed for school success. In order to help children read well, the America Reads Challenge encourages communities to form strong partnerships.

"It is quite clear that different facets of our community are already coming together to support this literacy movement," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "The United States Department of Education has also agreed to assist us in our efforts and will be providing us with a host of free resources for parents, teachers, tutors, community groups and all active participants. Resources include training materials, newsletters, and access to the latest research on best literacy practices."

"I want to thank Scholastic Inc. and Heinz North America for their assistance and commitment to this process," Congressman Faleomavaega said. "I also want to thank our local Board of Higher Education and the ASCC administration for their support. I am hopeful that this program will impact our Territory in new ways. I am hopeful that it will empower parents, teachers, and students. If fully implemented, I am certain that this challenge will promote equity and excellence in our schools, our homes and our community. Most importantly, I believe it will bring us one step closer to helping every kindergarten and elementary child in our Territory learn to read well and independently by the end of third grade."

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