One of the coolest things about being a college student is having access to information resources you wouldn’t have otherwise. This week, I discovered the New York Times historical database. There’s no denying how neat it is reading articles from two-hundred years ago or see what happened on your birthday. However, it can also highlight how little has changed.
Out of curiosity, I searched “dyslexia” in the database and sorted the results from oldest to newest. The third oldest caught my eye: “Reading Problem is Hard to Detect: Clues to Dyslexia Are Found in Some Visual Disorders”, by David Bird, published on November 20, 1967.
The article stated the following known facts of the day:
- 5 to 28 percent of children have dyslexia
- Struggling with reading can lead to “emotional problems”
- Early screening and help are musts
The wording may have changed, and the percentage refined to 15-20, but the facts remain. Unfortunately, it’s still common for school districts to resist screening kids for dyslexia until the third grade, when it’s possible to do so much earlier.
As an adult with dyslexia, I’ve watched friends with dismay as they struggled with school districts to get their dyslexic kids their education. I think back to the treatment I got in that Kentucky school, and my stomach churns when I envision the kids still shoved out of the way during tough classes. Why is this still happening 20+ years later?
To make matters worse, there are now methods available that help not only dyslexic students, but neurotypical students as well. Why haven’t more schools adopted them? Why is standardized testing, which only tests one specific cognitive skill, still the overwhelming go-to? There are some schools who have begun to do just that, and special education can be helpful when done right, but not enough is being done for early education. Too many adults today want to move backwards when it comes to education.
You may not have a kid in school, but the kids currently attending will grow up to be the adults in charge of whatever world we pass on to them. Investing in the next generation is also investing in our personal futures.
I realize broad-scale change is slow, but I can’t help my frustration. As with any civil right, it takes time and effort to create change. In the meantime, how much more damage will there be?