The Biggest Threat to Our Democracy: Illiteracy and the Science-Deniers Who Contribute to it
This excellent article was written by Kareem Weave a Member of Education Committee, NAACP, Oakland Branch. It is worth the read. It turns...
BethAnn Pratte has a unique perspective on education, especially dyslexia. As far as she knows, she is the only individual that has a 360 degree perspective on the crisis plaguing the educational system. She believes the only way to save the failing educational system is to break down these silos and communicate truth. She shares truths not just about education, but on topics that are important for all to reach their full potential.
BethAnn Johnson Pratte is a seasoned educator and holds many degrees and certificationsٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰٰ. [Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education; Master’s of Science in Education with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction; and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership; and certifications as a Level II Elementary Teacher (K-8), Principal (K-12), Curriculum Supervisor, and Assistant/Superintendent Letter of Eligibility]. She shares her extensive educational background NOT to sound impressive; but to showcase the glaring issue of the knowledge gap in the world of academia. One would assume she would have learned the essential knowledge/skills related to the science of reading, skills required to identify dyslexic students, special education laws, and how to read/interpret data to make educational decisions. This was not the case.
In 2016, BethAnn realized that the district failed to discover that her son was dyslexic or provide him an appropriate education. His cognitive abilities are well-above his peers; yet, he struggled to read and write. At every conference, Pratte raised concerns regarding her [perception] that her son struggled to read and write. The district assured her that he was reading on grade level. She blindly believed them because what they said made sense. Why would they lie? In a records review, she discovered a common theme- they blamed her son’s struggles on his lack of ability to focus. These were excuses, not facts...and far from the truth. Pratte was blindsided. She realized how ill-equipped she was to effectively advocate for her son and what she knew about effectively teaching reading was wrong! She was ignorant of her ignorance. Pratte reflected, “Since I lacked this knowledge, it is not difficult to realize that teachers, educational leaders, and reading specialists do as well.” With Mother’s Guilt and a professional obligation, she was determine to discover how this could have happened to her son and to prevent it from happening to another child.
Dr. Pratte set out on a personal and professional quest to find the truth. The tumultuous journey led her to disheartening truths about the educational systems, but to find the answers she so desperately sought. Years of extensive reading; research; attending national/international conferences; and personal communications with countless specialists, legislators, attorneys, and researchers from various fields who worked at the state, national, and international realms.
Dr. Pratte immersed herself into legal studies to develop knowledge of education/special education law and advocacy skills through Wrightslaw programs, books, conferences, and courses so she could help educators and parents alike. Additionally, she joined the International Dyslexia Association and began a program to an early literacy specialist. She received her certification as a dyslexia practitioner, and credentials in the science of reading. With all her studies, she now knew all the ingredients and methodologies required to teach children to read, but there was still something missing. In August 2019, Dr. Pratte and her son ventured to Trinidad, W.I. for her son to attend Dr. Timothy Conway’s clinic, to remediate her son’s dyslexia and dysgraphia, but also in search of answers.
It was Conway who provided the final missing piece of the puzzle. Dr. Pratte realized that knowing the ingredients of the science of reading/structured literacy and the multi-sensory methodology was not enough. One needs to know the recipe: the neurodevelopmental system of language acquisition.
Many consider Dr. Pratte an expert, as she has a rich experience in all facets of education [a public school teacher, with over two-decades of classroom experience: primary through college; an educational leader, a researcher, an adjunct professor in the graduate school of education at York College -for over a decade; a public speaker; an educational consultant; and a professional development facilitator]. The term expert makes her uncomfortable. She acknowledges she has much experience and knowledge, but realizes the importance of maintaining a teachable spirit, keeping an open-mind to continuing to learn. “I have met too many people that have chosen to stop learning. Sadly, many of them are educators.”
Pratte believes that God allowed her to have the opportunities to gain the perspective from all stakeholder groups involved in education, especially dyslexia. Those who work in education, work in silos: legislators, state departments of education, researchers, clinicians, educational leaders, reading specialists, special interest groups, parents, and teachers. As far as she knows, she is the only individual that has the 360 degree perspective. Having a global view and bridging the silos is the only way to save the failing educational system.
Pratte, herself, is dyslexic. She has vivid memories of her struggles to read beginning in first grade, as she was in the lowest reading group. Her struggles continued all the way through high school. Her guidance counselor discouraged her from attending college as she informed Pratte of not being ‘college material.’
Through the years, Pratte built many compensatory skills; and is in the process of overcoming her dyslexia. She admits that reading and writing takes her an exorbitant amount of time. Even after reviewing her writing countless times, she often catches errors after posting or sending a document. This aspect of dyslexia impacts her the most as she discloses “some [people] are very unforgiving and can be downright mean. Seeing that I have my doctorate degree, they believe that my work should be flawless… perfect. They assume if there are any errors, it is a sign that I rushed or was careless. That could not be farther from the truth. I may spend six hours writing a post or blog entry, when in reality it should have taken me an hour. The struggle is real.”
Currently, BethAnn is an early literacy expert, dyslexia practitioner, researcher, advocate, and writer. She is well-versed in educational policies and politics at the local, state and federal level. She resides in North Carolina with her husband and two children; a daughter (18) and son, Brady (16). Brady had many challenges in his life acquiring the label of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the age of 5. Later, he was diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and anxiety.
When Pratte is not immersed in activities related to advocating, educating, or legislating to end the reading crisis, one will find her learning a new skill or making new friends. She loves to travel, golf, garden, exercise, and spend time with family and friends. Her interests also include nutrigenomic, genetic research related to bio-hacking, nutrition, and biblical studies. She enjoys her occasional freelance work for Fox Sports at some USGA events. Her latest endeavor is to find investors or foundations to help finance a project, which would provide a way for mass distribution of literacy instruction [to parents and schools] that uses #DyslexiaScience. This would remediate those individuals who struggle with dyslexia, but also prevent children from ever struggling.
A Comprehensive Look at Why Schools Are Failing Our Children