I don’t disagree with Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley’s Oct. 28 commentary, “Quality Afterschool Programs Proven to Reduce Crime.” After-school programs will help some children stay out of trouble, but teaching reading and writing in school is much more beneficial for students who are born with dyslexia (dys-difficultly and lexia-language).

Students born with dyslexia struggle with language for the rest of their lives if they are not taught in a specific way. As a 44-year-old adult, I could only read and write at a fifth-grade level until I was diagnosed with having dyslexia at Santa Barbara City College. I was fortunate to have special teachers at the college who taught me how to read and write.

If I could be taught how to read and write at age 44, why can’t our local public schools teach their students born with dyslexia how to read and write? One of the biggest reasons is that our colleges have failed in the teaching of reading teachers for students with dyslexia. Programs have been in existence since the 1930s.

After advocating in public schools and the juvenile court system for more than 25 years, my experience has been that local school districts prefer to spend money on attorney fees to fight parents whose children have dyslexia rather than train their teachers in successful reading methods.

As former first lady Barbara Bush once said, “Effective treatment for dyslexia and religious language learning disabilities is among our education system’s best-kept secrets.”

To go back to Dudley’s commentary on after-school programs that will help many students, I will use a quote from a former New York juvenile justice judge, Jeffrey Gallet, who said, “If you cannot read and write, there are only two ways of making a living — the welfare system or crime, and crime has more status.”

Money is spent on numerous well-intentioned programs, but they don’t fix the underlying problem: Dyslexia!

Joan Esposito
Santa Barbara

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