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Newsom includes budget funding for universal dyslexia screening requirements

Despite having Dyslexia himself, this is the governor's first time backing the idea.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Megan Potente is an educator, but above all else, she’s a mother. 

"My son showed early signs of challenge, starting in kindergarten, first, second grade, and was really struggling to learn to read," she said. "The instruction that was being provided just did not meet his needs."

As a mother and an educator, she felt like the state was letting down her kids. 

"A teacher myself, I wasn't trained in my teacher preparation programs the best ways to support early reading," said Potente. 

She became an advocate and the state director for Decodifying Dyslexia California. She's thrilled with the news that Governor Gavin Newsom is trying to make early screening a requirement.

Governor Gavin Newsom set aside a million dollars in his budget for training teachers and a requirement for all schools to screen children for dyslexia at an early age. Despite having dyslexia himself, this is his first time backing such a plan. 

California is one of only 10 states in the country that does not require schools to screen children for dyslexia

“I was one of those kids back in the 70s that grew up with unrecognized learning disability," said state Senator Anthony Portantino. "My mother didn't find out till I was in the eighth grade that I had dyslexia.”

Portantino has pushed for early screening for years, but there were concerns from the California Teachers Association that mandatory screening had the potential to overidentify and misplace students in Special Education, especially English language learners. 

“The English learner population was getting misdiagnosed, misidentified, under the current system," said Portantino. "We were saying that these bright, talented young people had Special Ed issues when they actually had an early literacy issue.”

Portantino said changes were made to his bill to create linguistically sensitive tests, but then he decided to hold the bill back because the governor wanted to include it in his budget. 

“They they wanted to know if I was OK not being the author of the bill," said Portantino. "I said absolutely, if we get kids to read, I don't need to author the bill, we just needed to get (it) done."

The California Teachers Association is praising the governor’s “thoughtful implementation,” which they said includes a realistic timeline and additional training for teachers. 

Lawmakers and the governor have to decide on a final budget in the coming weeks. 


The Rynor Report | Gov. Newsom tours California to promote new state law proposals

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