To the Editor:
As an aspiring teacher with more than 10 years of work experience in a large public school district in Missouri, I can say that it is excruciating to observe a smart, hard-working student struggle with reading, writing, and spelling at even the most basic levels. Many of these students receive no intervention, become easily discouraged and, often, fight battles over self-esteem due to the lack of assistance they receive to help build their reading skills.
The commonality between these students in Missouri (and in other parts of our nation) is that they suffer from an undiagnosed learning disability or dyslexia. Without help, they are being set up for failure in the long run. They simply cannot overcome these issues on their own.
This is a problem that is universal across our nation and one that needs to be addressed by every party involved. Parents, administrators, teachers, government officials, lawmakers, policymakers, and community members alike owe it to the next generation to conduct further research into this problem to find a way to fix what is broken in the system. Students will continue to experience learning difficulties. It is our responsibility as a community to reach them exactly where they are and to make reading, writing, and spelling possible for them so that they can lead productive lives as valuable members of our society.
I am writing this in hopes that the readers of Education Week will remember that this still is a prevalent problem and to draw attention to the fact that there are quite a few students being overlooked. Be aware of the signs of reading/learning difficulties and do something. Change a life for the better.
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2013 edition of Education Week as Learning Disabilities Common, But Often Undiagnosed