Serious core reading instruction
Do Virginia Law School efforts guide the way?
Advocates for reading education are likely familiar with efforts by some advocates to create laws in states in the US about dyslexia. Most US states have some form of legislation regarding reading and dyslexia (exceptions: HI, ID, VT). Newspapers report on them, as did Dahlia Bazzaz for the Seattle Times. There are even Web sites (here and here) that track the status of laws about reading dyslexia and reading (link do not imply endorsement of everything on those sites).
These events are interesting to me, in part, because I have a parochial investment in reading education and dyslexia in Virginia. Another source of interest for me, of course, is my concern that reading education be improved, particularly by adoption of evidence-based practices. Those interests merged recently when I learned from Pal-of-SET, Emily Solari, that a clinic from the University of Virginia School of Law had contributed to the development of new legislation about basing Virginia’s reading instruction on rigorous research. As reported by Mike Fox of the UVA law school in “Clinic Helps Lawmakers Pass Childhood Literacy Bill: Students Work With Lawmakers on Several Pieces of Legislation,” law students Kara Hafermalz and Christina Kelly provided assistance to Virginia legislators in writing the legislation, entitled the “Virginia Literacy Act.” Those law students sagely consulted with Emily! (Mr. Fox’s article also covers other legislative activites of UVA law students, but there enough about the Virginia Literacy Act to make it a worthwhile read.)
I am heartened by knowing that Virginia legislators connected with a credible literacy researcher such as Emily. It’s not just in Virginia, though, those connections were made. In Washington, for example, legislators connected with another Pal-of-SET, Jan Habrouck of ReadWA and the Center for Literacy and Learning to develop legislation. These are winner connections for the children and teachers in those two states. (If you know of other examples, please add them in the comments!)
I see these examples of legislation as promising progress in efforts to put reading education onto solid footing. I encourage SET readers to learn about efforts in their states (and countries!) to create or update legislation, and to help ensure that that legislation is predicated on rigorous research about aquistion of literacy competence.
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