There are no better advocates than parents, guardians, educators, and other professionals who have witnessed injustice to children and have hope for a better future.
SB 691 (K-2 Universal Screening for Risk of Dyslexia) passes unanimously in the Senate Education Committee! HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE HEARING March 29, 2023:
It was an exciting day at the Capitol for California literacy advocates! Parents, educators, school board members, city and county representatives, and advocacy organizations traveled from all around the state to fill the Senate Education Committee room.The SB 691 hearing began with author Senator Portantino (D-Burbank) introducing the bill, highlighting that California is behind forty other states, where early universal screening is already required. He spoke to the need to do better for our English Learners and the role screening would play in supporting these students, and all students. He highlighted that this is a bipartisan bill with 33 co-authors to right a social injustice.
With an allotted two minutes each, witness testimony was given by DDCA Co-State Director Megan Potente and DDCA parent advocate Maria Daisy Ortiz, who flew in from Los Angeles with her daughter for the hearing.Megan urged the committee to follow science and vote aye on SB 691 to end the harm imposed by a wait-to-fail model. Identifying risk early is a critical step in solving the school-to-prison pipeline.
Daisy’s testimony centered on how her daughter’s difficulties were assumed to be due to her being an English Learner, not related to difficulties with reading. Screening would have detected her reading challenges much earlier, in K-2, during the most impactful time for intervention. Daisy also highlighted her advocacy work in supporting other families in her community.
Next up, public comment and the range of speakers on behalf of SB 691 were inspiring. Parents, teachers, school board members, pediatricians, and others spoke with urgency, some in languages other than English. A representative of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), CA’s second largest teachers’ union stated they are considering support of SB 691 if amended. Representatives from groups including the California Association of School Psychologists (CASP), the California Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), Disability Rights of California, and the Board of Supervisors for the City and County of San Francisco also spoke in support. [Note: The SB 691 bill analysis shared with the Committee members has a total of 52 supporting organizations listed and 3 organizations showing in opposition.]In opposition, representatives from the California Teachers’ Association (CTA) and California Association of Bilingual Educators (CABE) gave testimony, and Californians Together (CalTog) provided a “Me Too” in opposition to the bill. [Please see link to complete hearing below. Opposition testimony is from approximately 1:19:25 – 1:24:04.] The three organizations’ positions mirrored their letters of opposition filed last week, pushing back primarily on the logistics and cost of implementation and timing of the bill. These three organizations opposed last year’s bill, SB 237. Senator Portantino’s office is in ongoing discussions with these organizations. Committee discussion of SB 691 by Senate members followed including an emotional speech by Education Committee member and SB 691 principal co-author, Senator Scott Wilk.
The members then voted unanimously (7-0) to pass SB 691! Senator Portantino ended with the following: “You are never going to get first grade back. We’re going to save money. We’re going to help kids.”
Senate Education Committee Hearing March 29, 2023
- Complete SB 691 hearing starts at approximately 56:08 to 1:58:06
- Live “Me Too” comments start at approximately 1:09:13
- Call-in “Me Too” comments start at approximately 1:24:23
What’s next on SB 691’s journey? The bill has been set for hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10 at 10:00 a.m.YESonSB691.com. Please encourage family, friends, and colleagues to sign up for DDCA emails to stay informed on dyslexia-related efforts in California.One thing was clear at the Senate Education Committee hearing on March 29th: DDCA is a far-reaching grassroots powerhouse. There are no better advocates than parents, guardians, educators, and other professionals who have witnessed injustice to children and have hope for a better future. Please stay with us as we march forward to pass SB 691, a first step in ending wait-to-fail in California. Want to learn more about SB 691 and sign the online petition? Go to