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Oklahoma’s University Educators Resistant To Dyslexia Training For Teachers

Teachers in training at Payne Education Center at 10404 Vineyard Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record
Teachers in training at Payne Education Center at 10404 Vineyard Blvd. in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma lawmakers are in the middle of a policy fight about how to combat dyslexia.

Despite intervention from the state Capitol, teachers and administrators can’t decide how to bring dyslexia education into the classroom, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

In 2012, the Payne Education Center took a legislative mandate to higher education. The mandate, in the form of Senate Bill 1565, ordered the creation of a pilot program that would help teacher candidates learn more about how to identify dyslexia in their classrooms. The universities in the pilot program would also implement curricula designed to help future educators teach reading skills to dyslexic students. Complaints of egoism on both sides, however, short-circuited the collaboration. Carrie Brown, executive director of the Payne Education Center, said she was warned that it would be a tough sell. Brown described the stalemate at a House Education Committee hearing, where she said new teachers don’t learn about dyslexia unless they take extra courses after college. “Unfortunately, unless we’re partnering with an educational system, it’s always after the fact,” said Brown. “The teachers are going into the classroom as new teachers and they don’t have the tools to help these kids.”

Sally Beach, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, said new teachers don’t have the training to identify dyslexia, but do notice if children struggle to read and need assistance.

“But I think that before we even are able to be at a point where we can collaborate, I think we all have to come to the table with an idea of what it means to collaborate,” Beach said during the legislative hearing on Wednesday. “That doesn’t mean that one side tells the other side how incompetent they are and what it is they need to be doing to become more competent. That doesn’t tend to foster feelings of trust.” Beach declined a request for comment Monday.

Other higher education leaders have accused Brown of being pushy and having an abrasive style. The pilot program didn’t advance, and there’s no indication that it will.

“This has been three and a half years of, to me, rank disappointment,” Andrea Kunkel, executive director of Oklahoma Directors of Special Services, said. “It all seemed to be a lot more about personality and making sure that nobody was forced to do anything they did not want to do.” Brown said she’s not sure what will happen next, if anything at all. “No one’s been ringing my phone,” she said.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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