On January 24 — just 24 hours after it was introduced— the House unanimously passed HR 601, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act of 2017, or the READ Act. That is no small feat! The morning of the vote, ONE sent out an urgent request for you— our members — to make calls into Congressional offices urging the members to vote YES! And in just a few hours, you made 3,140 calls! That is amazing!
Now the bill has been sent to the Senate for what we hope will be their quick approval, but we don’t have timing for that quite yet. So please be ready to act! We were very close last year, but our chances are even better now. Keep your eyes on your email accounts!
What is the READ Act?
The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act was introduced in the 115th Congress by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA). A similar version of the bill, known as the Education for All Act, was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives on September 7 of last year. Although the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported the bill favorably, the Senate was unable to pass the final version before the end of the 114th Congress.
The READ Act aims to provide access to education for some of the 263 million children and adolescents who are currently not in school, or who do not have access to education because of conflict or political instability. It would set a truly admirable goal of reaching universal basic education, and at the same time, aim to improve the quality of that education.
How would it do that? Specifically, the READ Act would require:
- Developing a comprehensive, integrated U.S. strategy that improves educational opportunities and addresses key barriers to school attendance, retention and completion, especially for girls
- Promoting education services for children affected by conflict and other emergencies
- Partnering with affected countries to strengthen their education systems to help build capacity and promote long-term sustainability
- Engaging with key partners including other donors, civil society and multilateral education initiatives to leverage U.S. contributions to achieve a greater overall impact
- The creation of a “Senior Coordinator” at USAID who will be responsible for the development, implementation and coordination of U.S. basic education programs
- Requiring specific indicators and objectives with which to measure progress
- Improving the transparency and accountability of our basic education programs, ensuring taxpayers have the most impact for children worldwide
- An annual report to Congress which provides comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of U.S government programs, reporting on partner country activities and progress towards achieving benchmarks and goals under the act
Basically, it would be a BIG step forward in making sure every child has access to the education they deserve. You helped it get through the House — now let’s work together to get it approved by the Senate!