From: Jackie Blake
To: David Lifferth,
Subject: Make funding SB 117 a priority
Date: Mon Apr 06 21:10:46 MDT 2015

Dear Utah State Representative – District 002 Lifferth,

Education is a key driver of Utah’s economic opportunity and future prosperity. One of the key principles within Prosperity through Education, a 5-year plan to place Utah in the top 10 among states in education is helping children read confidently by 3rd grade. I urge you to prioritize funding SB 117 Interventions for Reading Difficulties Pilot Program this session to ensure positive educational outcomes for young children. Reading is fundamental to a child’s academic success. SB 117 provides teachers with the training to be able to recognize and help children with reading difficulties (like dyslexia).

I am the mother of Jordan Blake, a sophomore at Park City High School, who is DYSLEXIC. Our family does not think this is a dirty word. To the contrary, it is the recognition of a learning difference; in our case of a gifted, talented, motivated young adult. Although she struggled to read from kindergarten, the teachers were unsure why such a smart girl would be having these difficulties and had no way to help our daughter. In third grade she was finally given some “extra” help, yet it was not doing very much to help. At the end of fifth grade we were forced to search outside the school system to get very specific testing with results to determine exactly what instruction was necessary for our daughter to achieve at the level we knew she was truly capable of reaching. The results, while confusing at the time, were a revelation for our family. We could begin to understand why Jordan learned the way she did and what instruction was needed. We had to give her costly tutoring outside her school day for several years, and began to use tools and accommodations that allowed her to achieve great grades with much less anxiety, as she encountered in the past.

All children do not learn the same, yet All children have the right to a fair and equal education. Teachers need the training to recognize these wonderful children early and be able to teach to their strengths. 1 out of every 5 kids in the classroom are struggling to learn to read, whether diagnosed as dyslexic or not. 20% of our next generation are falling through large cracks in our education system.

After our trials and tribulations, navigating through a public school system not at the forefront of acknowledging these wonderful children, I knew families needed help. In January, 2014, Elissa Aten and I co-founded PC READS (Park City Recognizing, Educating and Advocating for Dyslexic Students). I have attached our Executive Summary for your information and to understand our mission. After only one year we are over 100 families, educators and tutors strong. There is an enormous need in Utah for support for these children and their families.

Please vote yes to SB 117 and begin supporting them too AND FULLY FUND IT! If you have any questions, want to get further info on PC READS, or ever want to meet Jordan, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The economic benefits of early childhood education outweigh the costs of providing these educational opportunities indicating a wise financial investment. Evidence has shown us college and career readiness begins with the ability to read fluently. I ask that you please help ensure reading success in the early years by supporting the funding of SB 117.

Sincerely, Jackie Blake PC READS 3982 Saddleback Road Park City, UT 84098