Samantha Ravelli sits with state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, during votes Thursday to adopt legislation requiring better assistance for students with dyslexia.
By DIANE D’AMICO
Education Writer | Posted
After almost eight years of lobbying, Beth Ravelli sat stunned as the state Senate unanimously passed a group of bills Thursday that should make it easier for children with dyslexia and other reading disorders to be diagnosed and treated.
Nov. 2005: Beth Ravelli contacts The Press of Atlantic City with her concerns about the lack of services for children with dyslexia. Her daughter, Samantha, was in third grade at the time and could not read. Ravelli had Samantha tested privately and found a program designed specifically for dyslexia.
April 2006: The Ravelli family moves from Weymouth Township to Ocean City, which offers a reading program designed for students with dyslexia and reading disabilities. Ravelli begins contacting legislators about requiring programs in all schools.
March 2007: Beth Ravelli testifies at a state budget hearing in Atlantic City about providing funds to train teachers in programs targeting dyslexia.
Nov. 2008: Beth and Samantha Ravelli testify before the Assembly Education Committee on a bill to form the New Jersey Reading Disabilities Task Force sponsored by Assemblyman Nelson Albano and Sen. Jeff Van Drew, both D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic.
Feb. 2009: Task Force bill passes in the Assembly.
Dec. 2009: Task Force bill passes in the Senate.
Jan. 2010: Task Force bill signed into law.
March 2011: After more than a year of inaction, members are finally named to the task force, which begins meeting over the summer. Ravelli serves on the task force. A report is submitted to the state in summer 2012.
Jan. 2013: Albano and Van Drew sponsor four bills based on task force recommendations that would add dyslexia to the state special-education code, require that all children be screened in kindergarten, that all teachers be trained on reading disabilities and that the state Department of Education provide training opportunities. A separate resolution asks the state to add a teaching certificate in reading disabilities/dyslexia.
April 2013: All bills pass the Assembly, except for the bill requiring student testing, which is moved to the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee to review costs.
June 2013: All bills pass the Senate. Senate bill moves child screening to first grade.