The Beckley Wilson Act (HB 3880)
Families across Texas have come together for children who are being denied their federal education rights, and after a three-year investigation by The U.S. Department of Education, it now seems state leaders might be poised to make legislative changes.
Currently, Texas only requires public schools to offer a simple dyslexia evaluation if the learning disability is suspected, and then schools are allowed to predetermine that students are served with limited services and protections. This practice violates federal law found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law specifies that a comprehensive evaluation must always be given so that the parents and schools can work together to agree on what is best for each student, such as Special Education services or Section 504 accommodations.
Dallas’ twelve-year-old Beckly Wilson represents thousands of students who are being denied proper evaluations and services. Beckley testified for the House Public Education Committee and asked members to “please follow federal IDEA laws so that no other kids get hurt like me.” What started as House Bill 3880 is now known as the Beckley Wilson Act, and it passed unanimously in the Texas House on Friday.
Without paid lobbyists or legislative experience, the fight to pass the bill is a parent-led effort. Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan, spoke at the bill’s reading on the House floor and told parents, “We appreciate your advocacy. This is how bills get passed in the Texas House.”
Parents are just hoping that the Texas Senate also appreciates parent advocacy, because they only have two weeks for the bill to make it through the Senate. If the bill does not receive a vote on the Senate floor by midnight on May 26th, hundreds of thousands of students will be waiting years for help and the federal investigation will continue with ongoing consequences for Texas and for students with learning disabilities.
About the Coalition for the Beckley Wilson Act More than 45,000 people from grassroots dyslexia groups across Texas came together in 2020 with the sole purpose of passing legislation to align Texas with federal law and more appropriately serve every student with dyslexia.
“There are 54 people in my job in this country, and 50 states and foreign territories including DC, and I am the only one who has this particular issue. There's no other state that bifurcates identification for dyslexia the way that Texas does, and I think that's what this bill… seeks to resolve…” Dr. Justin Porter, TEA Director for Special Education