Bills To Improve Education For Students With Dyslexia

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. June 19, 2013

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Liz Barnes voices support for the bills at Senate Education Committee hearing (photo by Phil Gregory)

Several bills to improve education in New Jersey for students with dyslexia are being advanced by a Senate committee.

The measures would require public schools to screen kindergarten students for dyslexia and other reading disorders and provide professional development for teachers on how best to help a dyslexic child.

Sharon Seyler  with the New Jersey School Boards Association supports the screening but is concerned about the financial impact on school districts and taxpayers.

 “We just hope that there may be a discussion for a state appropriation to offset the cost.”

Plumstead Township resident Liz Barnes has an 11-year-old daughter with dyslexia. She says the costs of not doing the screenings should also be considered.

 “It is my understanding that many of these screening tests have low costs that would significantly lower what it would cost to remediate a bunch of third to fifth graders who are two or more years behind.” 

Rahway resident Dana Marsh is the mother of a 17-year-old boy with dyslexia. She says the bills will make a difference for struggling readers by giving them the right tools at a young age.

“No parent wants to hear the questions: why am I so stupid?, what’s wrong with my brain?, why am I so slow? These are questions that I heard from my usually happy but struggling child throughout his elementary and middle school years.”

Marsh says her son made great progress after a third grade teacher identified his dyslexia.

Senator Jeff Van Drew says he’s been working on the legislation for years and is hopeful the governor will sign the bills that have been approved by the Assembly and are awaiting final legislative approval by the Senate.

“We spend billions upon billions of dollars in education yet there are good children who deserve opportunity who quite frankly are not getting it, and that’s shameful and it’s wrong.”


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