Archive for Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kansas Legislators raise concerns about schools reaching dyslexic students

March 6, 2012, 4:22 p.m.

Updated: March 7, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

Frustrated parents, reduced education budgets and legislators converged Thursday over the issue of trying to help students with dyslexia.

Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, said he knew of instances where students were diagnosed with dyslexia, and then when the parents met with teachers and administrators, they were told the student didn’t need additional help.

“That is extremely frustrating for these parents. They feel like they are being ignored,” Abrams said. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read.

Abrams has introduced Senate Bill 410, which would require schools increase screening to identify students with dyslexia and provide instruction for those children.

But Colleen Riley, who is the director of special education services for the Kansas Department of Education, said schools are doing a good job in the area of training teachers to help students who are dyslexic.

“The structures we do have in place adequately do take care of our students,” Riley said. She said the system could always improve, however.

“If there is a way to work with these parents, we have got to do that,” said Chairwoman Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita.

Riley said requirements under the bill would increase the costs to school districts by millions of dollars statewide. Meanwhile, the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback have not provided any professional funding for training teachers about dyslexia. School districts have had to dip into other areas to pay for the training, Riley said.

Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, however, said there are a number of parents involved with their school district who aren’t getting the help they need for their children.

Schodorf said the committee would decide next week on what to do with Abrams’ bill.

Linda Weinmaster of Lawrence talked with several committee members after the meeting, urging them to endorse intensive phonics instruction.

Weinmaster said one of her children was wrongly thought by school officials to have a learning disability when he was young.

“Nothing was wrong with him,” she said. “Like many other children, he was simply being disabled by ineffective reading curriculum and instructional methods.”


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