Bill would grant special treatment

Kansas school districts should do everything they can to ensure all students with learning disabilities receive the instruction necessary for them to further their education.

That said, Senate Bill 44 doesn’t appear to be a good piece of legislation. The bill would require schools to provide 90 minutes of specialized instruction each day for dyslexic students outside their regular classroom time, in small groups or one-on-one. The bill also would give schools six weeks to arrange the sessions. If schools don’t meet the deadline, parents could seek private instruction at the school district’s expense.

The bill has other provisions, but what makes it bad law is that it would create a special class of students with learning disabilities, those with dyslexia, and grant it special treatment not available to students with other learning disabilities.

Granted, parents of dyslexic students have every right to insist their children receive proper instruction applicable to their disability. Parents of children with other learning disabilities have the same right. But it isn’t fair to all children and parents to elevate, in the eyes of the law, dyslexic students.

Opponents of the SB 44 say if it becomes law, it will spawn bills seeking special, specific treatment for students with other disabilities. Who wouldn’t want his or her child to be give every consideration shown to other students?

If there are problems with the quality of services available to students with learning disabilities, school districts and the Legislature should address that issue with equal emphasis on each learning disability and the needs of those students.

Of secondary importance — here, but perhaps not secondary to the school districts or Legislature — are concerns the bill conflicts with federal law governing how much time students are away from their regular classroom, mandates the instructional methods to be used with dyslexic students and calls for that instruction to be given in small groups or one-one-one.

Ninety minutes of instruction in small groups or one-on-one can be expensive. Parents may be more concerned about the quality of the instruction than its cost, and that’s certainly understandable. School districts and legislators, however, have to be aware of spending.

Before legislators pass a bill that directs a significant amount of money and other resources to students with one learning disability, possibly at the expense of students with a different disability, they should decide if they need to review the entire spectrum of learning disabilities and the available resources.

via Editorial: Bill would grant special treatment |

Jimmy Kilpatrick, a national recognized professional special education advocate since 1994.

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