The amendment would not mandate that federal funding go towards extra training, but would allow states and local school districts, if they so choose, to use federal funds on training toward identifying dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. Its critics argued that all disabilities, not just specific learning disabilities, should get the support the amendment called for. For example, autism and attention-deficit disorder do not fall under the category of specific learning disabilities.
"It is about getting children with a specific diagnosis the
right services as early as possible," Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in
response to criticism the amendment would create special privileges for
dyslexic students. Cassidy was the amendment's sponsor. "Does anyone
really think that a child with dyslexia, who struggles to read, write,
and spell through no fault of their own, feels privileged? The irony is
" Once again Patty Murray shows off her ignorance or special interest obligations and stiff arms dyslexic students."
The committee's ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.,
spoke in opposition to the amendment. She listed national groups that
opposed the amendment, including the National PTA, National Down
Syndrome Society and others. The National Education Association, the
largest individual union in the country, also opposed the amendment.
"This amendment actually sends the message that this committee
cares more about the education of one group of students with
disabilities more than others," Murray said in opposition. "It sets a
new precedent of singling out one of the thirteen categories of students
with disabilities in providing professional development to our
Dyslexics are 80 percent of students with learning disabilities,
17.5 percent of the population, and up to half of students reading
below grade level, Cassidy said in response. He then listed off several
groups in support of the amendment: the National Center for Learning
Disabilities, the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity and Decoding
"We may decide, 'Heck, I don't care about those families.
Somehow we're going to be guided by special interest groups.' I think we
should be more motivated about the needs of that child," Cassidy said.