By Elisabeth Liptak, IDA Director of Professional Development
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced two amendments focused on dyslexia to the No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill, known as the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. One of the amendments gave schools the option to use funds to train professionals to recognize dyslexia and other learning disabilities. The other included language ensuring those children with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities would have the resources and support they need to succeed academically.
Despite strong support from IDA, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America, the amendments were defeated by the committee. Several committee members cited concern that it would be unfair to single out one disability group.
Newly elected to the Senate, Senator Cassidy previously headed the Dyslexia Caucus as a member of the House of Representatives. He played a key role in organizing the Science of Dyslexia hearing on Capitol Hill in September 2014, offering passionate testimony as the parent of a daughter with dyslexia.
While the Cassidy amendments were defeated, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously passed the reauthorization bill on April 16. It now moves to the full Senate for a vote. Because the bill is seen as a balance between accountability and local control, it has received bipartisan support as well as the support of governors, schools, and unions. The bill maintains accountability through annual testing of students in reading and math, with a breakdown by ethnicity, gender, income, English language learners, and disability. At the same time, it preserves local control in allowing states to determine how to address underperforming schools. We will report on the Senate vote in a future Examiner issue.