US Senator Bill Cassidy MD (R-LA) and his wife Dr. Laura Cassidy recently met with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and dyslexia and learning disability organizations to discuss serving children with dyslexia.
It’s important to remember five things.
- Public schools used to do more for students with learning disabilities. Resource classes, general education support, and certified teachers were a reality. It was not perfect, but it was better than what many public schools offer now.
- Public schools should have improved from that point, but they went backwards. Many believe this was intentional to forward a privatization agenda.
- DeVos gave Sen. Cassidy at least $70,200 in campaign funding, and about $4 million overall to Republicans who, in turn, supported her for the position she has now that will give her power to push vouchers.
- Sen. Cassidy and his wife have a charter school for children with dyslexia. It had an F rating, however, the school was given an extension instead of being closed.
- Ninety percent of children in America attend public schools. One in five of those children have dyslexia that needs to be addressed today…not ten, five, or even a year down the road.
A few years back, Cassidy gave Arne Duncan a snotty lecture at a senate meeting because Duncan did little for children with dyslexia. It was true. Duncan didn’t do much.
But Cassidy hasn’t made inroads to getting better programs for children with dyslexia in their public schools either.
Cassidy and Senator Mikulski (D-MD) did accomplish getting a resolution passed to call October “National Dyslexia Awareness Month” There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s superficial. It doesn’t put programs into place in public schools.
The Every Child Succeeds Act is also, due to a push by Cassidy, supposed to support a “dyslexia-focused comprehensive center” to identify children and get evidenced-based resources to children. But how this will impact children with dyslexia and learning disabilities in their public schools is unclear.
That’s because Cassidy, like DeVos, wants privatization. They want to get rid of public schools and have charter schools. They both criticize public schools without helping the children in those schools.
With their plan, wealthy children might attend a private school for help with dyslexia (there are few of these). But most children will still be stuck in unfunded public schools that don’t serve them well. Or they will go to a second rate charter. Charters rarely have qualified teachers.
Every child has unique challenges and abilities, and children with dyslexia are no different – they simply learn differently. As many as one in five Americans experience a language-based learning disability, and too many of them do not receive the resources they need in our schools. The Department will continue to work every day to empower families with the supports and services they need in learning environments that best fit their children’s individual educational needs. I’m grateful to Sen. Bill Cassidy and Dr. Laura Cassidy for joining this discussion and for their exceptional work on this issue, and I thank all of today’s participants for the constructive exchange.
DeVos should not be critical of public schools in her role. It’s her responsibility to see that children with dyslexia get the services they need in their public schools!
She has some pie in the sky idea that she can click her heels and create vouchers to private or charter schools dealing with dyslexia that currently do not exist. Not only is Sen. Cassidy on board for her plan, with his school he profits from it!
There is no way DeVos can create programs for students with dyslexia anytime soon even if one supports vouchers.
Betsy DeVos is about tricks and no treats when it comes to dyslexia and learning disabilities.
Happy Halloween! Be careful out there!