SPRINGFIELD -- A pilot project to provide early screening and intervention for children with risk factors for dyslexia apparently is another victim of the state's gloomy fiscal condition.
The proposal to begin the pilot project in three Illinois school districts -- to be determined by the State Board of Education -- stalled in an Illinois House committee Thursday. The legislation, HB 4084 , is sponsored by state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana.
Jakobsson decided to leave the bill in the committee after several lawmakers expressed concerns about its undetermined cost.
The bill states that the project is "subject to appropriation," meaning that it wouldn't become effective until the cash-strapped state has the money to afford it.
"The problem we have right now is that we have a budget that is so out of balance, so out of whack that we absolutely don't have 10 bucks to spend on anything. This is subject to appropriation, I understand that, but it won't be appropriated," said Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Rock Falls. "The money's just not there."
Mitchell and other lawmakers suggested different methods to publicize and attack the issue.
He urged Illinois education officials to study research performed in other states.
Rep. Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville, who also is a school administrator, said the state should do a better job of training teachers to screen for risk factors for dyslexia, and suggested the State Board of Education could help with information on its web site.
"I agree that a pilot project in this state, with the fiscal situation we're in, may take longer to implement than a real quick resolution which would urge early childhood teachers to become educated on this subject," Eddy said.
Marilyn Kay, a longtime Champaign-Urbana educator and currently the coordinator of the local Linking Educators, Administrators and Parents program, said that she has dyslexia and "that it caused some real difficulties in school."
"Dyslexia," she said, "does not imply a lack of intelligence. It is a disorder that is neurological in origin, resulting in learning differences that make processing written language difficult."
She said that children with dyslexia "are really being underserved" by many schools.
Rep. Pam Roth, R-Morris, said that as much as 20 percent of the population has some form of dyslexia.
"They just think a little different than you and I think," she said. "But if you've been told every day that you're never going to know how to read, or you're never going to learn how to learn, then eventually you're going to fall through the cracks."