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(1st LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assemblyman Nelson Albano on Wednesday said he was pleased the Reading Disabilities Task Force he created after appeals from an Ocean City girl is closer to getting ready to get to work, but said more time cannot be wasted.
“This has been a longtime coming, but I’m at least pleased that we’re closer to finding new and better ways to help our children overcome reading disabilities,” Albano said. “Hopefully we’ll get the two Republican appointments on board quickly so we won’t have any further delays. Our children’s futures won’t wait. It’s time to get to work.”
Albano sponsored the bill (A-880 in the 2008-09 session) after Ocean City student Samantha Ravelli lobbied legislators to find a way to improve reading disability services for children. The bill was signed in January 2010, but the governor’s office didn’t make its appointments to the task force until Tuesday.
Albano was appointed to it by Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Albano’s district mate, Sen. Jeff Van Drew, was appointed to the task force by Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“Approximately 85 percent of all children who receive special education services have basic deficits in language and reading, and many students with reading disabilities are neither properly diagnosed nor receive the necessary specialized educational programs, ” Albano said. “Clearly, it’s everyone’s interest to get this task force going to study instructional practices and strategies that benefit students with reading disabilities and examine the ways in which current state policies affect this population.”
The Ravellis began lobbying for improved services after Samantha was diagnosed with dyslexia. Few school districts offered the program needed to help the then-third-grader, so the family had to move to Ocean City. Samantha, who often testified in favor of the bill, is now in eighth grade and preparing to enter high school on a college preparatory track.
“Samantha’s bravery and courage is something I’ll never forget,” Albano said. “We owe it to her and other children facing similar circumstances to find a way to make their futures brighter and ensure they take full advantage of their potential.”
The task force’s report is due a year after the group’s initial meeting.
“It’s tragic to think that some children lost out on some of their future because their reading disability wasn’t detected and resolved,” Albano said. “We can do better, and I look forward to getting this task force moving forward. Let’s get it going.”