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Public Papers - 1991 - July

Statement on Signing the National Literacy Act of 1991

1991-07-25

Today I have signed H.R. 751, the ``National Literacy Act of 1991.'' This legislation represents another significant step toward implementing our AMERICA 2000 strategy and attaining the National Education Goal of adult literacy and lifelong learning.

Improving literacy is one of my Administration's most important objectives. I have consistently proposed increases in funding for literacy programs, including Even Start and adult education, and continued support for current Federal research efforts and the National Adult Literacy Survey.

We have also initiated a number of measures designed to enhance Federal efforts in this area. In 1990, I established a Task Force on Literacy to coordinate Federal literacy policies and programs and to stimulate efforts to improve literacy in our Nation. A host of Federal departmental and interagency activities have been launched as a result of this collaboration.

The Administration has worked closely with the Congress to fashion an effective literacy initiative to enhance government-wide coordination and cooperation. H.R. 751 is the product of that effort. H.R. 751 would establish new literacy programs and provide higher authorization levels for some current adult literacy programs.

I am particularly pleased that State literacy resource centers envisioned by the Act are very similar to the regional literacy resource centers proposed in our AMERICA 2000 Excellence in Education Act.

I am also pleased that H.R. 751 provides for:

-- a multi-agency supported National Institute for Literacy, which will contain a national clearinghouse on literacy, give technical assistance to basic skills providers, and validate exemplary practices in the field;

-- a National Workforce Literacy Assistance Collaborative to improve the basic skills of individuals by assisting small- and medium-sized businesses and labor organizations to develop and implement literacy programs;

-- a number of desirable improvements to the Even Start program; and

-- support for discretionary State literacy programs in correctional institutions.

I must note that section 102(c)(2) of the Act, which adds new subsection (f)(1) to section 384 of the Adult Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1213c), could be read to constrain the President's authority to select nominees for certain positions to which the Senate gives its advice and consent. Because such a constraint would be inconsistent with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, this provision must be interpreted as precatory rather than mandatory.

H.R. 751 is a good example of the constructive, bipartisan effort needed to further the goal of increasing literacy in our Nation.

George Bush

The White House,

July 25, 1991.

Note: H.R. 751, approved July 25, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 73.

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