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A Parent's Perspective

Categories: Learning Disabilities

"I hope we're coming to a period where our country is enlightened enough to help all children, regardless of their needs, to be successful. I don’t think we've reached that level of civilization yet." As President of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), James Cibulka is well qualified to make such an assessment. But Cibulka is also the father of a severely dyslexic child -- and it is from that personal perspective that he spoke out at RFB&D's Access and Achievement Roundtable. "I read once that statistics indicate only about one in seven dyslexic children even make it to college, and the graduation rate from college is much less than that. In fact, it is generally a problem in our country that regardless of the young person’s needs and abilities, we graduate far fewer from college than we admit. "My wife and I have a daughter who is quite severely dyslexic. She is, I'm happy to say now, a college junior in North Carolina. We're very lucky that our daughter is as successful as she is because she has defied the statistics. I think our daughter’s success owes to many excellent educators who helped her along the way – despite some appalling examples of mistreatment and insensitivity that really, I think, could be defined as malpractice. We’re lucky that our daughter has defied the statistics."One example of that is when she was referred to in fourth grade as mentally retarded. At the time, this disability was recognized as mentally retarded – and this is the same girl who was just a few years earlier told to skip a grade by the school authorities because of her brilliance. "As you know, our daughter's parents are relatively well educated. My wife taught one of the first learning disabled classes in the country in Chicago with Michael Reese Hospital, and so we do know something about this subject. But the difficulties of penetrating school systems are remarkable, and our experiences are that it makes no difference whether it’s a public school or private school -- because we've had our daughter in both. It’s really the level of caring and sensitivity and the knowledge that educators bring. "The other thing I want to say is that none of the schools where she has been treated well and has flourished were able to do it without the help of RFB&D. It’s those schools that have linked her to this set of additional resources.  She was telling me recently that she could not have succeeded without the books that have been available to her through your organization, and she wanted me to personally thank you for that. "I hope we're coming to a period of time where our country is enlightened enough to help all children, regardless of their needs, to be successful. I don’t think we've reached that level of civilization yet. "One thing I would very much urge is that the federal government support more research concerning how to effectively reach such children and help them be successful. And I want to say to RFB&D, keep up the good work."

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