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Decatur Student Takes Dyslexia Issue to D.C.

A Decatur student is advocating for Dyslexia in Washington, D.C., along with students from across the U.S.

Jennifer and Harper Rhett in Washington D.C. Credit: Photo from Jennifer Rhett
Jennifer and Harper Rhett in Washington D.C. Credit: Photo from Jennifer Rhett
Decatur student Harper Rhett, 11, along with his mother, Jennifer, and a Decatur public school teacher traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress June 25 and 26.

The issue at hand? Dyslexia and how it affects students.

“I wasn’t able to read until I was in third grade,” Harper told Patch. “Just because I didn’t get enough good support and help from my normal public school.”

Jennifer and Harper Rhett, along with other parents who are a part of the Decoding Dyslexia Network, asked Congress to join the bipartisan dyslexia caucus and sign on to House Resolution 456 to raise dyslexia awareness.

Decoding Dyslexia is a mix of parents and educators who want to raise awareness about dyslexia and improve the accessibility to proper education for children who struggle with the learning disability.

“I’m also a parent of a dyslexic child,” said Colleen O’Toole-Beguiristain of Swanee. “We’re frustrated with the lack of interventions that were available for dyslexic kids in the public school system. What we noticed is that if parents don’t have the financial means to either privately tutor their kids or take them to a private school setting, they’re often not getting the proper remediation in the public school environment.”

Jennifer Rhett started a nonprofit in Decatur called Reading is Essential for All People to train and equip teachers with the skills needed to teach children who struggle with dyslexia. Twelve teachers in Decatur have already been trained, but the program is a two-year commitment. The second year is spent tutoring kids who would otherwise not have the opportunity to have tutors.

The Rhetts had 67 meetings while they were in Washington, D.C.

“My Congressman, John Lewis, has done what we asked and signed on to the caucus and co-sponsored the resolution,” Jennifer Rhett said. “That was a very positive result.”

Harper shared his experience with dyslexia in every meeting.

“It was great,” he said. “I went into all the meetings and helped out and they tried to understand what was going on.”

Since tutoring, Harper Rhett is now able to read at an above-average level.
Decaturette July 05, 2014 at 02:20 PM
Yeah Harpur! Yeah REAP! Hopefully someday public schools, including City Schools of Decatur, won't be just about meeting the minimum standards of the law but about helping all students reach their full potential.
Suzanne Arena July 07, 2014 at 08:57 PM
Agreed. Child Abuse = the continual denial of a basic right of education that is scientifically proven to give children the tools KNOWN to be successful. Purposeful dismissal of known disability(s) are a cause I would have thought ACLU would have gotten involved in and . Decoding Dyslexia gives hope to the "Gap Kids" and families, they will accomplish what Autism Speaks (and the like) have done for Autistic children.

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