As someone who struggled with dyslexia from kindergarten through college, Senator John Brooks is supporting legislation he says would give dyslexic students the assistance he didn’t have when he was in school.
Brooks, D-Seaford, is a cosponsor of bill S.2534 that would require training of teachers in the area of dyslexia and related disorders. Specifically the bill would mandate all school districts in New York state provide dyslexic students with teachers specifically trained to instruct them.
Brooks spoke about his personal experience growing up with dyslexia.
“I went through school not knowing I was dyslexic. I was one of those students who couldn’t spell, had trouble reading, and in a classroom if you had to read out loud would break into a sweat, trying to figure out what paragraph to read,” Brooks said. “Back then I don’t think anyone really understood what dyslexia was.”
The bill was introduced by Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, D-Brooklyn. They say it would help teachers more easily identify dyslexic students so they can be evaluated and receive special education if needed.
“There’s a teacher out there right now who is dealing with a student struggling to read, has problems with spelling, and doesn’t want to read out loud in a classroom and breaks into a sweat. But that student who is having trouble might be the next Albert Einstein, or Thomas Edison, or George Washington, or Andrew Jackson, or Woodrow Wilson or Nelson Rockefeller.”
— Sen. John Brooks
The bill, introduced in January in both houses, was touted during the second annual Dyslexia Awareness day at the state Capitol on April 4. Simon was joined by Brooks, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffe, D-Suffern, and other advocates.
Simon says schools are already beginning to provide some professional development to give teachers the skills needed to recognize signs of dyslexia, but the bill will require standardized training.
“This bill will require teachers to be exposed to these methods,” Simon said. “It’s about teachers being exposed to methods of teaching reading that are effective.”
The International Dyslexia Association says 1-in-5 children worldwide are affected by the learning disorder, which represents about 15 percent of students. According to Sen. Golden, more than 40 million Americans have dyslexia, and of those, only 2 million actually know it.
“There’s a teacher out there right now who is dealing with a student struggling to read, has problems with spelling, and doesn’t want to read out loud in a classroom and breaks into a sweat. But that student who is having trouble might be the next Albert Einstein, or Thomas Edison, or George Washington, or Andrew Jackson, or Woodrow Wilson or Nelson Rockefeller,” Brooks said. “We need to give the students the assistance they need so they don’t go through what I went through when I was in school.”
Both the Senate version (S.2534) and the Assembly version (A.1480) of the bill reside in the education committees in each house.