Bill to help dyslexics

could actually backfire

Regarding the June 28 story, "Senate OKs student help for dyslexia":

With the best of intentions, it looks as if the Legislature's bill to help children with dyslexia will soon become law and directly or indirectly mandate that schools use specific reading methods to teach reading to these children.

The push will likely be for Orton-Gillingham (multisensory) type methods. This is dangerous. Orton-Gillingham research has not reliably demonstrated its superiority in teaching reading to children with dyslexia. Although these methods have helped children, they have also failed many. And the prescribed methods do not reflect the unique characteristics of children, teachers and classrooms, despite special-education labels.

Here are a few of the many critical ingredients for helping children with dyslexia: lots of daily, easy, systematic, explicit instruction in decoding and quickly recognizing words; interesting materials and tasks that move from easy to more challenging, but avoid frustration; lots of emotional and social support.

Despite my many concerns, I hope that the bill attains its ultimate goal: to help children with dyslexia become highly successful readers. I fear, however, that legal adherence to Orton-Gillingham-type methods will backfire, hurting many children.

HOWARD MARGOLIS

Voorhees

Howard Margolis is a professor emeritus of reading disabilities and special education at the City University of New York.

Christie has no right

to block gay marriage

Gov. Chris Christie has said how upset he is with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Same-sex marriage should not be an issue with the governor of New Jersey. What right does he have to tell people whom they can marry? If it is because of his religious belief, well, there are a lot of citizens like me who do not know if there is a God.

How would the governor like it if we adopted a law to ban overweight people from getting married?

In my mind, people who don't want gays and lesbians to marry are nothing more then bigots.

ROBERT PANTAZES

Northfield

Deen should have used

Fifth Amendment right

What happened to Paula Deen is certainly a tragedy on so many levels.

First of all, the use of a racial slur is both damaging to the recipient and obviously more damaging to the person who uses it. Her entire career is tarnished, if not ended completely.

What troubles me most, though, is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted certain groups in a discriminatory manner and not one, but two IRS senior managers took the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering any questions.

What actions were more serious and hurtful to all of us - Deen's or those of the IRS?

In hindsight, I'll bet Deen wishes she had invoked her Fifth Amendment right as well.

AL CASALNOVA

Galloway Township

Student-debt crisis

could be disastrous

A career in higher education allows me to underscore the warning in Adam Wolf's July 27 column, "Student debt crisis heading for a cliff."

Between 2004 and 2013, outstanding student debt, now at the trillion-dollar mark, grew by 281 percent. For perspective, all nonhousing consumer debt, which includes student loans, grew by a combined total of 29 percent. Today one in five households in the United States holds student loan debt. In 2004, that percentage was 13 percent.

Default rates have doubled since 2000, rising from 6 percent overall to 13 percent. These trends are not sustainable. The dangers of loans made with little or no concern for the credit risk is something we do not need long memories to recall.

To be sure, there is a lifetime earning premium for those who gain a college degree. However, we also need to remember that more than 40 percent of those who enroll in degree programs do not complete them. They are left without the premium but all too often with the debt.

The real culprit is the spiraling cost of higher education. If we continue to ignore the problem of the expense attached to the college experience, and we keep pushing students to undertake that experience for their long-term benefit, the student debt crisis will catch up to us with potentially disastrous consequences.

VINCE CONTI

Cape May Court House

Vince Conti, now a consultant, was a senior administrator in both the public and private sectors of higher education for 40 years.