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California Teachers Union, School Boards Oppose Dyslexia Testing Bill

California School Board Association, Special Education Local Plan Area and the California Teachers Association oppose a bill that would make dyslexia screening compulsory.

A new bill would require all kindergarten to third-grade students be screened annually for learning disabilities, specifically for dyslexia.

Kelly Sandman-Hurley and Tracy Block-Zaretski, who run San Diego’s Dyslexia Training Institute, a private dyslexia advocacy and tutoring company, helped draft the legislation put forward by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, in February.

So far three influential organizations have come out against the bill.

California School Board Association, Special Education Local Plan Area and the California Teachers Association all sent letters of opposition to the state Assembly Education Committee. All the opposition letters echoed similar reasons for their position against the bill, AB 1369.

The groups said screening every kindergarten to third-grade student will cost too much and could lead to over-diagnosis. Reading problems are a normal part of young learners developmental process, the groups said.

Jim Groth, a board member for the California Teachers Association, said the bill isn't realistic.

“Great idea. Now let's look at reality," Groth said. "Realistically, is this the way we take our limited resources in California and solve the problem?"

However, dyslexia advocate Block-Zaretski said if AB 1369 becomes law it could actually save school districts money because they could catch the problems early on.

The groups opposed to this legislation are made up of educators who have little to no training in dyslexia, Block-Zaretski said.

“General education teachers, special education teachers, reading specialists, school psychologists, the great majority of our universities are not training them,” said Block-Zaretski.

The Assembly Education Committee is holding a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Sacramento.

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