Reading is fundamental.

Still, it should come as no surprise that to our current administration doesn’t hold reading in as high esteem. True or not, the perception is there. You’ve heard all of the jokes; the “reading is hard” image, etc.

But if anything points to these perceptions becoming reality, it’s this. President Bush is proposing to eliminate all funding for Reading Is Fundamental’s book distribution program.

In other words, no more free books to those who need them most.

Since 1966, RIF has provided more than 300 million books to underprivileged children. From RIF’s CEO/President Carol Rasco:

“With 13 million children living in poverty in this country, the need for RIF has never been greater,” said Rasco, “With a recent report showing a declining interest in reading among adults and teens, supporting children’s literacy is critical to reversing this trend.”

We’re dropping in the education standings. We’re perceived as a dumber nation, growing more and more complacent in matters of education. Now, we’re proposing to drop another program that can only help – a program that, over the past six administrations, has gone uninterrupted.

I understand that cuts need to be made somewhere. I get the fact that our budget is a mess and something has to be done. But why make the cut here, especially when trillions are being wasted on a war that a shrinking minority even approves of. (That’s your obligatory useless war message for the day.)

It may sound like nothing, but it’s quite the contrary. Some families don’t have the means to buy seemingly extravagant items like books. And the children suffer, unexposed to reading, already years behind when they make it to the school system, given less of a chance to succeed in the future. It leads to special classes, an increase in poverty and a greater strain on our nation’s economy.

I’m not saying that four free books a year are going to change the world. But, hell – it sure can’t hurt.

Check out RIF’s Web site at www.RIF.org and let your voice be heard. E-mail your Senators and Representatives. Let Bush hear how important this is.

And then hope he actually cares.

(via Condalmo)

This was lovingly handwritten on April 21st, 2008