Approximately 1 in 5 children are dyslexic. Due to a lack of resources in schools to diagnose kids early, and to provide them with adequate help once diagnosed, struggling readers fall behind their peers. The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the number of kids with reading and behavior problems who end up in juvenile detention centers, and later in prison. According to the US Department of Education, “60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.” There is a direct relationship between reading struggles and behavioral issues. A main reason is because not understanding how to read, while the rest of your peers take off on a path towards success, drastically affects a child’s self esteem. Not understanding the information being taught in school contributes to a child feeling helpless and alone, which can lead to behavioral outbursts. Since many learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, present themselves in children as early as Kindergarten, early prevention is an important step to getting kids the help they need to grow as readers.
In a nation where approximately 50 percent of adults are unable to read beyond an 8th grade reading level (Kozol, Illiterate America), initiatives for children with dyslexia are necessary in creating awareness. It is imperative to get parents, teachers and kids the resources they need to be successful. Although these statistics don't only reflect kids who are falling through the cracks because they have dyslexia, a lack of educational resources across the country, and the inability in most states to identify learning disabilities at an early age, are some of the key issues surrounding the United States' illiteracy crisis.
Being dyslexic is not a shameful thing, and it doesn’t need to lead to low-self esteem in and out of the classroom. In fact, it should be embraced by kids, teachers, and parents who deal with it on a daily basis. The video link below shows the final part of Academy Award winning filmmaker and dyslexic, Peggy Stern’s three part web series that follows a student named Aidan as she, her parents and teachers figure out how to grapple with her dyslexia. While the first two parts of this series show how difficult it was for Aidan and her parents to deal with her diagnosis in the 2nd grade, this last part shows that with resources and support, it is possible for students to catch up with their peers in school, and to stand proud as learners.
Aidan is one of the lucky ones as her parents had a lawyer to help get her into a school for kids with learning disabilities. Not all families have this kind of support. To avoid low self-esteem, behavioral issues, and the drastic number of kids and young adults falling into the school-to-prison pipeline, initiatives must be taken to ensure that all children receive the opportunity to learn to read and write, and to become successful adults. For more information about resources that exist to help struggling readers succeed, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest blog post by: Mara Waldhorn
Mara Waldhorn is an independent filmmaker and educator. She taught middle school English as Second Language in New York City for two years, and currently works as the Associate Producer for Academy Award winning filmmaker Peggy Stern’s new multimedia web project Dyslexia-ville. Once launched, D-ville will be a comprehensive online network and launching pad to success for the millions of dyslexics around the world. For more information about dyslexia, or D-ville email Mara or Peggy at email@example.com, find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Dyslexiaville, or follow us on Twitter @dyslexiaville.