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Why November Matters for Dyslexia

november matters dr chester goad dyslexia

Why November Matters for Dyslexia

By Chester Goad, EdD

October may be Dyslexia Month, but this year the more important month for dyslexia advocates may actually be November.  Terrorism, immigration, the economy, and continued healthcare issues, are dominating the news, but the impact of the midterm elections on the issue of dyslexia must not go unnoticed.

While parents, teachers, and other dyslexia advocates have been trying to triage the problem state-by-state, the solutions vary with many state legislatures passing different prescriptions for what is ailing the system when it comes to dyslexia.  But the problem isn’t the teachers.  The problem in most cases is not the local school system. The problem is often each state’s perception of what federal law mandates.

The incredible efforts of stalwart groups like the International Dyslexia Association and all its branches, as well as those of relative newcomer network, “Decoding Dyslexia” born out of New Jersey, only serve to underscore the need for a federal resolution. Often these group’s efforts are met with a tacit response and the typical line:  “federal legislation already addresses dyslexia so there is no need for anything additional.”  If that was the case though there would be no outcry from parent and advocacy groups from around the country.

Over 20 states have introduced some form of dyslexia legislation in the past few years.  Just this past April, my own home state of Tennessee passed the “Dyslexia is Real” bill, modest legislation designed as a first step toward assisting students with dyslexia and better equipping those who teach them.  Other notable efforts include Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and New Jersey.   These state-by-state legislative efforts to address dyslexia are necessary and honorable; however they are also state solutions that point to a much greater federal issue or a far better national solution.

While as a general rule, I prefer the federal government to stay out of the education business, I do believe that when something already in place is not working properly or isn’t recognized as it should be, it must be addressed…especially when it’s causing a great amount of distress for many of our citizens.

Enter US Representative Bill Cassidy.  Cassidy, a House Republican co-founded the bipartisan US Congressional Dyslexia Caucus with former US Representative Pete Stark (D-Wi) in 2012.  As someone who follows education policy, I blogged excitedly about the establishment of the caucus at that time.  Since 2012, thanks to the tireless efforts of Rep. Cassidy whose own daughter has dyslexia, the bipartisan dyslexia caucus has grown to more than 80 members, drawing legislators from both sides of the aisle all joined in the common commitment to the cause of dyslexia.

rep cassidy rep brownley dyslexia co chairs

Rep. Cassidy (right) and Rep. Julia Brownley (left) are Co-Chairs of the House Congressional Caucus on Dyslexia.

Representative Cassidy (R-La), and Representative Brownley (D-Ca), the current caucus leadership, heard the cries of advocacy groups and agree that the implications of dyslexia have far reaching effects on schools and school systems, and more importantly the success of students with dyslexia.  Representative Cassidy introduced House Resolution 456, which now boasts over 100 members of congress signing on as cosponsors. HR 456 calls on “schools and State and local educational agencies to recognize that dyslexia has significant educational implications that must be addressed.”

I also typically steer clear of endorsing political candidates because I believe dyslexia is a non-partisan or purple issue. However, I believe right now, we are fortunate to have some terrific dyslexia-related leadership in the House.  Because of Representative Cassidy’s energetic and tangible, noteworthy contributions to the cause of dyslexia, I certainly hate to lose him in the US House of Representatives, nevertheless, he has decided to run for the US Senate and I believe he could be a great asset to the cause there.  If one considers all Cassidy has done for dyslexia in the House it stands to reason that he will do the same in the Senate.  A strong and proven voice for dyslexia in the Senate Chamber is necessary at this time to build upon the momentum taking place around the country.

Ever the stalwart in dyslexia advocacy, the International Dyslexia Association is stronger than ever and continues to educate and advocate globally. The newly formed Decoding Dyslexia group is also having a profound effect on grassroots.  In my own home state, members of both the TN-IDA and DD-TN as well as other professionals, parents, and educators joined dyslexia advocacy efforts forming a Dyslexia Legislative Alliance that helped get the “Dyslexia is Real” bill passed unanimously.  How many bills typically pass unanimously?

The strength of the dyslexia advocacy efforts in Tennessee are just the tip of the iceberg nationally.  The dyslexia wave continues because 1 in 5 individuals has dyslexia, and those individuals are not confined within the state borders of Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, New Jersey or any of the other states that have sought remedies for students with dyslexia (Read more about Learning Ally’s 1 in 5 Initiative here).

While I continue to support the state-by-state legislation being introduced regularly across our country, I believe this continued pursuit to better address dyslexia is indicative of a greater national issue.  I also believe that national legislation such as HR 456 can only help to reinforce the efforts of the advocacy in each state. It’s much harder for policy makers around the country to give the typical response “there’s already federal law to address dyslexia” when even the US House and the US Senate are introducing new legislation.  In order to fully address dyslexia nationally though, I believe we will need people like Bill Cassidy in the Senate to ensure that issues related to dyslexia don’t just die once they have been introduced.

This November, I’m asking everyone to remember that dyslexia is not a Democrat or Republican issue. One in five Americans has some form of dyslexia and that’s not just my statistic.  You can read more about this research by visiting the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.  If you are a parent, teacher, or dyslexia advocate and you believe in the cause, please remember to vote for candidates in your statewide and national elections who support dyslexia legislation and vote against those who have worked to impede it.  Also, to find out what other states are doing, you can learn more and follow dyslexia legislation through the pipeline in your home state by going here or navigating to www.dyslegia.org.

Finally, as someone who can’t vote in the State of Louisiana, but as someone who cares about dyslexia as a national issue, I wish Rep. Bill Cassidy the very best in November.

November matters. Just imagine what would happen in our country if we were able to reach the 1 in 5.

(Disclaimer: While I used to work for the US Congress, I do not know Bill Cassidy and have never met him, though I would love to meet him sometime and thank him for all he’s done.)

Chester Goad, EdD

C. Goad, EdD

(Dr. Chester Goad is a university administrator and graduate instructor for special education. He is a licensed special education teacher, a former high school English teacher, former principal and former US Congressional staffer.  He is also co-author of Tennessee’s “Dyslexia Is Real” bill. A leader in education, non-profit advocacy, parenting issues, and policy, Chester holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership with a concentration in special education. He has been quoted in major newspapers, magazines, and media outlets including CNBC, Yahoo, and US News. He is an adult living with attention deficit and spends much of his time advocating for children and individuals with disabilities and learning differences like dyslexia and for at-risk students. He and his wife live in Tennessee with their teenage son.  He is author of the book, “Purple People Leader: How to Protect Unity, Release Politics, & Lead Everyone” now available on Amazon. You may contact him at chestergoad@gmail.com, or at www.purplepeopleleaderbook.com. )

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Book Release September! Check out the book site.

Hello all!  The Edventurist Blog isn’t going anywhere, but the site for my new book is up!  I’d love for you to check it out. This is my first stab at non-fiction.

Purple Logo octagon“Purple People Leader: How to Protect Unity, Release Politics, & Lead Everyone: Inspiration, Wisdom, & Tips for Leading Purple” will release in September on Amazon.  You can click the link to learn more about the book.  Thanks for your faithfulness to this blog, and don’t worry my belief in advancing dyslexia, ADHD, and disability awareness is not waning.  More books are coming!   This is just one I had to get out of me!

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The Bill is Signed & We’re On our Way to a More Purple World!


chester goad, governor haslam

TN Governor Bill Haslam Signs Dyslexia Bill into Law
Left to Right: Bill Sponsor, Rep. Cameron Sexton, Dr. Chester Goad, Emily Dempster, Dr. Jim Herman, and Senate Bill Sponsor, Senator Becky Duncan Massey.

 Hi Friends,

My apologies! This post is much later than I had expected! I wanted my next post to feature the Governor’s formal signing ceremony of the Dyslexia is Real Law. So I’ve been waiting. That ceremony was held in Nashville last week. The Governor signed the bill formally, at War Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Check out the pic!

Exciting Changes Coming!

When I founded the EdVenturist blog several years ago, I wasn’t sure where it was headed. I’ve always been interested in many things, and I knew I wanted to bring attention to an issue. I asked myself who in the world would read it?

I am proud to say that the Edventurist blog is visited regularly, and since it was established, it has been visited by guests and readers from 146 countries, most visitors came from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia. In addition, this blog has been read by people from as far away as Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and Morocco!

The most frequently read topics on the Edventurist page so far have been: Dyslexia, ADHD, the Brain, and my personal commentaries. The top referral visitors came from Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and the most navigated search engine pointing people in my direction was of course, Google!

I’m thrilled that Dyslexia is finally getting much needed attention, and that legislators, and state officials have begun to realize the benefits of providing teachers and pre-teachers with the tools they need to teach students who learn differently. I hope to continue my involvement with dyslexia, and I especially hope to see successful implementation of this important legislation both within our K-12 systems and higher education.

Now for the big news!

If you follow the Edventurist blog at all, you already know that there’s always been a section on leadership. Personally, I simply could not have founded any blog without at least addressing leadership. It’s that important to me. So, I created a Leadership section. I am a leadership nerd. I read books on leadership. I read leadership blogs. I watch leadership videos…just for fun.

Now that dyslexia is finally gaining traction, and now that our state is emphasizing dyslexia in trainings and so forth, leadership will become one of the primary topics on this site. The timing could not be better as …drum roll…the date for release of my first book gets closer!   That’s right, we are shooting for an August release date for my very own book of inspiration and guiding principles… Purple People Leader. I’ll be providing updates over the course of the summer, and I hope to have a review manuscript in my hands as early as next week! In the meantime check out the website! 

I hope you’ll continue visiting the Edventurist blog, and I promise to continue highlighting any noteworthy dyslexia news, and to keep those resources updated. I’m looking forward to sharing with you some inspiration and insight into purple leadership! Thanks for sticking with me through the years.




(Dr. Chester Goad is founder of The Edventurist blog, an adult living with ADD, a university administrator, writer, speaker, dyslexia and disability advocate. He is a licensed teacher, and former school principal. He also likes pistachios, and a tall Veranda Blend with half and half from Starbucks.  The opinions on the blog are his own, and he has a lot of them. If you’d like Dr. Goad to come and speak to your group you can email him:  chestergoad@gmail.com. Dr. Goad is the author of the forthcoming book, Purple People Leader an inspirational how to guide to Protect Unity, Release Politics, and Lead Everyone!  His favorite color is purple and always has been.)


Tennessee’s Dyslexia Bill Passes Unanimously Heads to Governors Desk

Tennessee's Dyslexia Bill Passes Unanimously Heads to Governors Desk

This photo depicts both the House voting panel and the Senate voting panels. The Tennessee Dyslexia is Real bill HB1735/SB2002 is headed to Governor Haslam’s desk for signature.

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“Dyslexia is Real” Bill Speeds to Senate Education Committee THIS Week!

The “Dyslexia is Real” Bill is picking up steam on capitol hill in Nashville! Please share the good news!

Senator Becky Duncan Massey, of the 6th senate district and the bill’s sponsor on the senate side has placed the bill (SB 2002) on notice and it is expected to be presented in the Senate education committee, Wednesday, February 5th at 3:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, HB 1735,  the house bill has also made its way to the House of Representatives Education Committee and has been assigned to the Education Sub-Committee with an expected hearing date of Tuesday, March 4th.  Supporters of the bill continue working with passion and purpose to raise awareness about the bill and gather additional support around the state and especially among the legislature.

The Dyslexia Alliance was formed with passion and purpose as an umbrella group consisting of members of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, the parent advocacy group, Decoding Dyslexia, and others who have been touched professionally or personally by dyslexia.

senator becky duncan massey meets supporers

SB 2002 sponsor “Senator, Becky Duncan Massey meets with members of the TN Dyslexia Alliance. L-R: Dr. Chester Goad, (one of the bill’s originators and member of TNIDA), and Alliance Members, Eileen Miller, Melissa Tackett, & Dr. Michael Hart of Decoding Dyslexia. (Absent: TNIDA President, Emily Dempster, & Dr. Jim Herman, also originators of the bill.)

Representative Sexton meets with Dyslexia Alliance

Rep. Cameron Sexton, who introduced HB 1735 in the house meets with Dyslexia Alliance members. R-L: Dr. Chester Goad, (one of the bill’s originators and a member of TN-IDA) as well as Dyslexia Alliance members from Decoding Dyslexia. (Absent TN-IDA President Emily Dempster, & Dr. Jim Herman, TN-IDA Board member, also bill originators).

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(From Press Release)


lego troops flank dyslexia

Rally the Troops! Support the TN “Dyslexia is Real” bill: HB 1735 / SB 2002!

January 22, 2014—Nashville, TN.   Supporters of legislation that will help students with dyslexia in Tennessee have something to cheer about.  After years of advocacy and discussion regarding the needs of students with reading disorders, House Bill 1735 was filed by State Representative and House Majority Whip, Cameron Sexton and Senate Bill 2002 by Senator Becky Duncan Massey.   Efforts to pass a bill to benefit students with dyslexia picked up steam after members of the Tennessee branch of the International Dyslexia Association joined forces with members of Decoding Dyslexia-Tennessee, and other interested individuals to form the Dyslexia Legislative Alliance.

Highlights of the bill referred to by supporters as “The Dyslexia is Real” bill include officially defining dyslexia in Tennessee using the definition officially adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), education and training for pre-service teachers enrolled in institutions of higher learning, and incorporating dyslexia-related training into current educational in-service practices.

According to Emily Dempster, President of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and regional parent advocate, “This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Tennessee to make a difference in the lives of those affected by dyslexia.”  Dempster teamed up with Dr. James Herman, Director of the Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia, and Dr. Chester Goad, former president of the Tennessee Association on Higher Education and Disability, over the last two years to help lay the groundwork for the bill.  Goad believes this is only the beginning.  “All we did was lay the ground work,” he continued, “but getting this bill passed is going to take a mighty partnership with our Dyslexia Alliance partners, parents and others around the state to take it across the finish line. We’re just so thankful to Representative Sexton and Senator Becky Duncan Massey for giving us an opportunity to prove that Tennesseans care about this issue.” Dr. Jim Herman of the Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at MTSU emphasizes educational importance of the bill. “This bill will assist educators in meeting the needs of all K-12 students and opens the door for targeted, multisensory interventions for students with dyslexia.”

While dyslexia legislation is only now being introduced in Tennessee, the dyslexia movement is a national movement.  Several states have already passed similar legislation including: New Jersey, Mississippi, Arkansas, Ohio, and many more.  In most states, support for the bills receive incredible traction from highly organized groups such as the parent advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia, state branches of the International Dyslexia Association, as well as Learning Ally formerly known as “RFB&D or Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.”   For more information about the “Dyslexia is Real Bill” contact Dempster, Goad, or Herman, TN-IDA, or Decoding Dyslexia.


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Happy New Year from The Edventurist Blog!

Happy New Year from The Edventurist Blog!

2013 was a busy year for dyslexia! Dyslexia in medicine.  Dyslexia in politics.  Dyslexia in literature, arts, entertainment, and more. Below is a list of the Top Dyslexia stories for 2013.  Scroll down to the bottom to see my predictions for next year.  Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014.  Remember: Whatever your issue, don’t procrastinate…advocate!


1.  Fiber-optic pen tells us what’s happening inside the brain

Researchers at the University of Washington invented a pen that can give the scientific or medical community a glimpse inside the brain to tell us just what’s going on while someone is writing. Read more from Science Daily here!

2.  Test helps with decoding

Researchers at the University of London have created a test they believe will help us understand reading difficulties and the dyslexic mind.  Read more about the decoding research here!


3.  New Jersey passes dyslexia law

More states continue to pass dyslexia-specific laws to ensure that students with reading disorders such as dyslexia are getting what they need, and that educators have access to important multi-sensory language structured methods and curricula. Read about this year’s dyslexia law from New Jersey here!


4.  Typography Book: What it Feels like to be Dyslexic

In what many describe as part “coffee table book and part textbook”, author and artist Sam Barclay designs a book that lends visual insight into what those with dyslexia might experience while reading. It’s an amazingly interactive and thought-provoking reading experience. Learn more about, I Wonder What it Feels Like to be Dyslexic here:

5.  Malcolm Gladwell discusses dyslexia in his new book

Author, speaker, and thought-leader Malcolm Gladwell offers his perspectives on dyslexia in his latest book release, David and Goliath.  Gladwell offers provides an explanation on his views regarding under-dogs that aren’t really underdogs” on NPR’s Marketplace.  Listen to the interview or read more about it here!


6.  International Dyslexia Association responds to false claims about the effects of visual therapies and colored lenses helping with dyslexia

The debate continues regarding visual therapies and dyslexia and this year the International Dyslexia Association released a clear position statement on the topic. Read their position here!


7.  Brain scans discover dyslexia before students learn to read

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Children’s Hospital identified a unique MRI Scanning process that can help in the identification of children with dyslexia before they ever learn to read. Read more about the MIT and BCH brain scans here.

8.  Northwestern University researchers discover the relationship between ability to read and how the brain encodes sounds. Read more about the NU research here.


9.  Artist Highlights Famous People with Dyslexia

In a fascinating and majestic effort to bring awareness to dyslexia, artist Vince Low presented an amazing display of his personal sketches notable people with dyslexia.  Check out the Vince Low’s amazing sketchwork here.


10.  Blake Charlton defines his own dyslexia in the New York Times. Read more about the New York Times article here.


11. Harvey Hubbell’s long awaited biopic Dislecksia: The Movie.

Hubbell’s movie premiered across the country in mainstream and indie theaters.  The movie presents Hubbell’s perspectives relative to his life experiences growing up with dyslexia. You’ll enjoy this delightful, witty, humorous, and sobering film. Check out the trailer and locations for viewing here.

12. Documentary highlights Robert Redford’s family’s experience with dyslexia.

While light-hearted biopic, Dislecksia: The Movie was making the rounds, another film was also making an impact.  Similar to HBO’s 2011 feature film, ‘Journey into Dyslexia’,  HBO’s newest dyslexia documentary, directed by James Redford features, a more personal look at how dyslexia has affected one famous family, as well as interviews with students with dyslexia, while also offering insight from the Yale’s Dr. Sally Shaywitz and numerous other figures. Check out Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia here.


13. Honorable Mention:  Texas student Ben Shrader also known as “Commander Ben” made his own dyslexia video called, The Sound of Reading.  In the film, Shrader highlights challenges that face students with dyslexia as well as the positive effect audio books have had on his success as a student.  The video and his “Commander Ben” blog are worth a look here! 


In the coming year, more states will pass dyslexia legislation.  Look for Illinois to pass legislation requiring early screening for dyslexia as well as additional professional development requirements for educators.   We can also expect Tennesseans to see legislation introduced this year, as various advocacy groups and individuals in the state have formed an alliance to see landmark legislation passed there.   In addition to more laws passed, expect more technological advances, more medical advances, more movies and more books!

(Dr. Chester Goad is founder of The Edventurist blog, an adult living with ADD, a university administrator, writer, speaker, and disability advocate, who is committed to making life better and more fun for people with attention deficit and dyslexia. He is a licensed teacher, and former school principal. He also likes pistachios and salted caramel mochas from Starbucks. These opinions are his own, and he has a lot of them. If you’d like Dr. Goad to come and speak to your students or to your group you can email him at chestergoad@gmail.com).


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