Parents of dyslexic students watch as House votes on school finance bill

The 150-members of the Texas House will vote Friday on an overarching school finance reform bill, including a new "weight" for students with dyslexia.

Reva Gill plays the piano as her mom, Raman, watches on. Reva is a 7th grade student diagnosed with dyslexia. (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)
Reva Gill plays the piano as her mom, Raman, watches on. Reva is a 7th grade student diagnosed with dyslexia. (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friday, the Texas House will vote on an overarching school finance reform bill and one aspect of the bill hopes to get more resources for students with dyslexia.

Raman Gill’s dyslexic seventh grader, Reva, has come a long way. Early on, this mom carried most of the burden.

“Who’s going to evaluate your kid? How do you find that person? Then you have to pay for that person. Then you have to go out and find somebody to help you address the issue,” said Gill.

When Reva’s peers were reading Harry Potter, she listened to the audio books. The family says they’re lucky the Austin Independent School District puts resources toward dyslexic students since many other districts don’t have the money to do so.

“I think if you don’t have the resources, a lot of kids and parents aren’t going to be able to jump those hurdles,” said Gill.

“It’s everything, it’s your entire world,” said Shannon Meroney describing how she parents her two dyslexic children. She says a district having the evaluations, specialized training and staff makes a difference–which is why she supports a new bill by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston.

A portion of House Bill 21 would give school districts 10 percent more money for students with dyslexia. With 150,000 school children in Texas, it’ll cost the state $215 million.

“It really makes so much better sense to put the money in on the front end to educating these kids and getting them to where they succeed in life,” said Meroney.

This bill will likely pass the House, just as it did during the regular session. The Senate, however, has a completely different idea to help children with special needs. They want to give future public tax dollars to families to send their children to private schools they say to better fit their needs. That debate derailed this bill in the regular session and it could derail this bill again.

State law requires specific testing to help determine learning difficulties. Schools will use cumulative data if help is required. Some of that data includes vision and hearing tests, classroom reading assignments, report cards, and universal screening. Parents and guardians always have the right to request an assessment at any time. If dyslexia is not diagnosed by age 8, the chances of it continuing into high school is 75 percent.

 

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