READING PROGRAM PRAISED; EDUCATION SECRETARY, SCHOOL OFFICIALS MEET.
U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley lent his support Thursday to a summer reading program and called for national tests in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math during a brief meeting with Los Angeles Unified School District officials.
The district's reading program, which urges parents to read to their children for at least 30 minutes a day, is part of President Clinton's national literacy campaign which aims to mobilize a million volunteer tutors to make sure every child can read independently by the end of the third grade.
Reading during the summer helps students retain their academic skills and prepares them for the coming school year, Riley said.
``Disadvantaged students fall behind during this three-month-long summer break,'' he said. ``You have to be constantly improving your reading skills.''
Riley is visiting Southern California to promote President Clinton's educational goals for the 21st century. On Thursday he met with Orange County business leaders and plans to visit Utah Street Elementary School in Los Angeles today to launch L.A. Unified's summer reading program.
School board President Jeff Horton praised Riley's visit as evidence of the importance of the Los Angeles school district.
``We're the second-largest school district in the country and we contain all the elements of education,'' Horton said. ``His visit here is a way of touching all the aspects of education in one place.''
In addition to supporting the summer reading program, Riley also called for national standards with tests in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. Under such guidelines, every fourth-grader would be able to read and every eighth-grader would know basic math and algebra.
``Students need to have their basics down before moving on'' to advanced subjects, Riley said.
On Tuesday, Riley is scheduled to hold an electronic town hall meeting with officials from the school district and the Los Angeles Public Library, which also is participating in the national literacy program.