Today I want to share with you some information about two Congressional resolutions about dyslexia that have been introduced in the House of Representatives. I learned about these in a message from Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz (leaders in the field of reading and dyslexia research) that you can read here. I thought it was important to share these with you because one of the resolutions (H.R. 456) clearly calls for action by schools for students who are dyslexic. The other is a more general resolution about learning disabilities and doesn’t directly call on schools to address dyslexics’ educational needs.
What You Can Do
After learning a little about these resolutions, I hope you will take the time to send a quick email to your representative letting them know that you consider dyslexia an important issue and which resolution you would like them to support.
Remember, our representatives are there to represent our interests in government. We need to let them know what issues are important to us. We may not be able to change policy on our own, but we can all send an email and that’s a start!
House Resolution 456 is explicitly about dyslexia and its educational implications. It gives a scientifically-based definition for dyslexia and calls on educational agencies to provide focused, evidence-based interventions for dyslexic students.
The Shaywitz articles summarizes, “Resolution 456 is focused directly on the educational needs of children who are dyslexic, and calls for schools, states, and educational agencies to take action to recognize and address the significant educational implications of dyslexia. In addition, this resolution addresses the paradox of dyslexia—that dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty, and as such, children who are dyslexic may have weakness in reading and spelling, along with strengths in higher-level cognitive thinking.”
House Resolution 623 is different. It mentions dyslexia but is much more general, lumping dyslexia with learning disabilities as a group. This could actually be harmful for students with dyslexia because the resolution describes “the imperfect ability to…think…” as one of the symptoms. This is true of learning disabilities, but NOT true of dyslexia. The Shaywitz article emphasizes, “Dyslexics have a reading impairment, not a thinking impairment.” Also, this resolution does not call for action, instead it just congratulates organizations for their work with dyslexia.
Show Support for H.R. 456
As an educator, I am in support of Resolution 456. Resolution 456 is specifically about dyslexia and calls for schools to take action by providing evidence-based interventions for students with dyslexia. In contrast, Resolution 623 is about learning disabilities in general and could even be harmful for students with dyslexia because it categorizes dyslexia as a thinking impairment, which it is not.
I am going to act on this information by sending an email to my representative. I hope you will consider doing the same after looking into these resolutions. Please read the Shaywitz message and the actual text of both resolutions. If you end up supporting Resolution 456 like I do, please email your representative.
Shaywitz article: http://dyslexia.yale.edu/HRes456vsHRes623.html
Sample Email for Your Representative
Below is a copy of the sample email from Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (http://dyslexia.yale.edu/CassidyHResJan2014_what2write.html). I just added my representative’s name and a few personal touches; then I sent it to my representative. How easy!
Find your representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Dear Rep. ————
Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) needs the support of at least 100 U.S. Congress members to bring to a vote H.Res.456 in the House Education and the Workforce committee. As one of your constituents concerned with the education of all of our children, I am counting on you to support this resolution.
(Insert your personal story here, if you have one that you’d like to share.)
Rep. Cassidy’s Resolution recognizes each major element of dyslexia: its prevalence (1 in 5); the cognitive and neurobiological bases; its unexpected nature and persistence; its profound impact on education and the critical need for action by schools.
Rep. Cassidy gets it and I hope that you do too. The Bipartisan Dyslexia Caucus which he co-founded was a major step forward and now the Dyslexia Resolution brings light and understanding, and hopefully action, to ensuring that children who are dyslexic receive the understanding and evidence-based programs and accommodations that they deserve. Please act now to support Resolution #456 — it will make a difference!
Thanks so much for taking the time to let your support be known. We need to take the opportunities we have to do what we can to support things that will benefit our students!
Remember to like us on FB, follow us on Twitter, and participate by commenting, letting your opinions be known and encouraging others to do the same!