House group asks agency to spell out resources for dyslexic students

U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Julia Brownley (D-CA) sent a letter late last week to the U.S. Department of Education, requesting that leaders of the agency communicate with states and individual school districts regarding the use of the term “dyslexia” in Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs), as well as the resources that are available for students with the disorder.

More than two dozen other House members co-signed the letter.

“On behalf of children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities in our districts, we request that the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issue guidance to states and school districts regarding the use of the term ‘dyslexia,’ ” the congressmen said in the letter.

“Despite the prevalence of dyslexia among students, parents nationwide have discovered that some states and school districts will not include the word “dyslexia” in a students’ Individualized Educational Program (IEP),” the letter said. “In many cases, parents have been told that their state does not ‘recognize’ dyslexia; and instead only uses the term ‘specific learning disability.’ Families in our congressional districts rely on access to a high-quality education for their children with dyslexia. We look forward to your ensuring that the millions of students with dyslexia receive the evidence-based instruction and interventions needed to succeed in school and life.”

Along with the letter, Smith and Brownley also recently supported the fight against dyslexia by introducing the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ Act), a bipartisan bill that supports funding for dyslexia research.

Smith has represented Texas’ 21st District in the House since 1987. Born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1947, Smith was educated at Yale University. Smith and serves on the following committees: Science, Space and Technology (chairman); Homeland Security Committee; and Judiciary Committee.