Brownback Announces Kansas Reading Initiative

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is proposing a new reading initiative aimed at boosting proficiency among school children.

But his plan sparked a debate even before he unveiled it during a Thursday news conference because of how he'd finance it. He wants to use $9 million in each of the next two years from federal assistance funds for low-income families.

Those funds would be supplemented with private dollars.

Brownback unveiled his "reading road map" initiative at Topeka's Boys and Girls Club. He said he hopes the program will help to break the cycle of poverty.

Most of the money would come from the Department for Children and Families, which would tap funds from federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. The program typically provides cash assistance to families in poverty.

A number of high-poverty urban and rural school districts would be targeted through after-school reading programs.

Brownback said the program will complement existing reading programs in schools.

The announcement drew criticism from Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who has announced plans to run for Governor.

"I support investments in literacy, but if Governor Brownback is concerned about reading proficiency he should restore funding to public schools and early childhood programs," Davis said.