Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

This week, I had the honor of hosting a roundtable discussion with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), education experts, and Arkansas educators on our bipartisan, bicameral 21st Century Dyslexia Act, which would codify a federal definition of dyslexia to give schools, parents, and students the tools they need to identify and manage the learning disability. 


In our discussion, we heard from students and adults about their experiences living with dyslexia before and after diagnosis. I was struck by their testimonies of feeling “stupid” and struggling with low self-esteem as they fought to learn to read when the skill came so easily to their peers. After they were diagnosed, however, the students were encouraged that their difficulty reading was not their fault and could be managed with proper care. 


Twenty percent of children are dyslexic, but too often, dyslexia goes undiagnosed, wrongly dismissed as laziness or low intelligence, especially in low-income and minority communities. With proper accommodation, dyslexic students are empowered to reach their greatest potential, in their academic and professional careers. 


The 21st Century Dyslexia Act implements the groundbreaking research of Doctors Bennet and Sally Shaywitz at Yale University’s Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, who also attended the roundtable discussion, to address the chronic underdiagnosis of students and adults with dyslexia.


As a former school board member, the husband of a special education teacher, and co-chair of the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, I am always looking for ways to implement the science of reading at a young age in schools to best equip all students to not only reach proficiency in reading, but also to excel in all areas of education. Reading is the foundational building block of education, and I am proud to take this important step with my friends in the Senate and across the aisle towards ensuring children are never again dismissed by our education system as they develop these vital skills.


7-15-22 6:17 PM KAWX.ORG