Hello! My name is David Chard and I am honored to serve this year as the President of the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD). In my day job I’m the inaugural dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. I have been dean at SMU Simmons for seven years. During that time, I have worked to build a strong program in research and teaching with a growing faculty and staff. Before coming to SMU, I was a faculty member at the University of Oregon and before that at University of Texas at Austin and Boston University. Before I was a faculty member, I was a high school mathematics and chemistry teacher in California, Michigan, and in the U.S. Peace Corps in Lesotho. Like most of the members of DLD, my participation stems from my interest in ensuring that students with Learning Disabilities (LD) get high quality education.
It is an exciting and tumultuous time in our field. States are trying to determine the advantage of adopting and implementing the Common Core State Standards, questions remain about how the related tests will impact students with LD, and teachers, principals, and schools are under heightened scrutiny to demonstrate that they are helping all children to achieve. It is times like these that we believe associations such as the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and DLD can help education professionals to do the best possible job at meeting the needs of all students. However, memberships are down in teaching organizations across the country. This suggests that we need to work smarter to demonstrate our value to those members of DLD who are in the classroom. We hope that you’ll reach out to us with suggestions of how we can accomplish this important part of our work. In the meantime, DLD has a number of resources that we think can support teachers, administrators, and related service personnel in their efforts to educate students with LD. They include: webinars on important instructional topics, materials to guide webinar discussions, white papers or chapters addressing critical issues in our field, and other members-only publications such as the Current Practice Alerts, the DLD newsletter, and HotSheets. Despite this list of resources, we need to hear from you about what else would be helpful.
Your incredible DLD Leadership team is also working behind the scenes to support DLD’s mission. This fall we will co-host a symposium with the SMU Simmons School in Dallas focused on evidence-based practices in teaching students with LD. This joint initiative is designed to bring the latest research findings to a densely populated region of the country (North Texas) in order to help teachers and school leaders to serve their students better. The symposium will feature DLD members from the region as well as members of the DLD Board who will focus on Response-to-Intervention models, research on reading, mathe- matics, social development, writing, and evidence-based decision making. If y’all are in the region or feel like a visit to the Big D, please join us.
In addition to our ongoing efforts, the DLD Board will be taking up a number of important issues related to congressional action, forging partnerships with other key LD advocacy groups (e.g., CLD, NCLD), advising CEC and other member organizations on topics such as teacher evaluations, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards. We remain hopeful that in the next few months we will see efforts in Congress to pass a reauthorized Education Science Reform Act, and may even see some action on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act. DLD will follow any important developments and keep you updated on their implications.
I look forward to my year as President of DLD and hope that you all will reach out to your colleagues and help them see what a strong and supportive organization DLD can be for its members.
Let us know how we can support you, and stay in touch. David Chard