Jul 6, 2021
The US Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded in reading failure.” The national reading crisis is much more than poor grades and missing assignments. And for black children, their legacy with literacy dates back to slavery.
Today’s guest has made this connection through her own personal journey to advocate for her son and is passionate about education reform. Resha Conroy is the founder of the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children, an organization designed to act locally and nationally to support Black children who are Dyslexic by empowering Black families and concerned communities. The approach focuses on raising awareness about Dyslexia and effective reading instruction, transforming barriers to literacy through education and empowerment, and confronting racial bias in public education through collaboration and action.
Listen on to hear Resha’s story, how you can support your child and community, and how to connect with the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children.
[1:45] - Dr. Wilson first heard Resha speak at a virtual event on the social justice issue of literacy.
[2:36] - Resha was brought into the area of dyslexia after her son’s diagnosis.
[3:31] - Resha’s son was not retaining knowledge, and he was struggling with reading skills and word finding.
[4:18] - If there is a history of a language delay or struggle, a child is more likely to have dyslexia or another language-based disorder.
[5:10] - When Resha’s son was denied services after a school evaluation, she sought a private assessment and found out, through that evaluation, that he was at the first percentile in decoding.
[6:19] - He was able to get his foot in the door for services because of a speech-language pathologist at his school.
[7:20] - Resha shares the comments from others that she should be okay with her son’s low performance.
[9:38] - These experiences are not unique to Resha. She founded the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children to help families navigate this space.
[10:47] - If dyslexia hasn’t been identified as the root issue, by third grade there could be outward behavior issues which then causes misdiagnosis.
[11:45] - Research shows that black children have harsher consequences for poor behavior.
[12:43] - Resha describes the connection she made during her own research.
[15:41] - There’s nothing about a child’s first language that contributes to their dyslexia.
[17:20] - Even if you read to your child everyday, it’s not going to address reading issues related to dyslexia.
[18:24] - Resha shares how people also tend to blame the child for not trying.
[20:11] - All studies prove that early intervention is key. But, many schools are not equipped.
[22:17] - Informing parents is something that Resha is passionate about with her organization.
[23:23] - There is also a huge disconnect with teacher training regarding reading instruction.
[24:12] - Resha shares reading proficiency data and breaks it down by race. This puts children with dyslexia at an even greater disadvantage.
[25:07] - What is the history of literacy for black people?
[27:41] - The history of policy and systemic racism continues to impact black students.
[29:01] - Providing parents with the tools, support, and proper language to advocate for their child is crucial.
[30:24] - An IEP with the right language is a tool to fight for the rights of a child.
[31:27] - Emotional support for families makes a huge difference as well.
[32:00] - The Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children is launching programs that you can request more information about. Resha shares what the organization can do.
[33:27] - How does the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children push for literacy as a social justice issue?
[35:50] - Once a child is identified as having dyslexia, which can be a long wait to begin with, what do the interventions and services look like?
[37:08] - These services need to be consistent throughout the child’s educational career.
[38:02] - The Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children has members on the team that have dyslexia and are success stories.
Resha Conroy is the founder of the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children. A mother of two children with learning differences, including a son with dyslexia, Resha is motivated by her family's journey and a lifelong passion for education reform to bring awareness to the intersectionality of race and Dyslexia. Resha brings over a decade of experience in education reform and charter school administration. Currently, Resha is a Speech-Language Pathologist with interest in language, literacy, and culture. She has an M.S. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders and an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management from New York University.
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