President's Message: Welcome to the 2016-2017 Academic Year
Welcome to the 2016-2017 Academic Year!
My name is Linda Mason, and it is with great honor that I begin my presidency for the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD). I am currently a Professor of Special Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I teach and conduct research in reading and writing interventions for students with learning difficulties. I have also served as faculty at The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Prior to my academic appointments, I completed my M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities at the University of Maryland. I have been most fortunate to spend my career at institutions of higher education that have strong foundations in research and teacher preparation for students with learning disabilities (LD). My own research and teaching are informed not only by the scholarship of others in the field of special education but also by my seven years’ experience as an elementary special education teacher, two years as special education team leader in Howard County, Maryland, and as a parent of two adult children with LD.
The field of LD is at a transitional period, with the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015) and the upcoming reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) in Fall 2016. Now, as in the past, DLD has strived to support its members and others in the community of educators, parents, and students during difficult times and transitions. This year, the DLD board will continueto evaluate how to best serve our membership within the context of declining membership in CEC, changes in U.S. and state policies, and increasing demand for web-based resources. Within this context, a priority of my presidency will be to scale-up DLD’s advocacy and dissemination efforts by enhancing visibility and access to DLD’s rich media resources on the TeachingLD website (http://teachingld.org/) and in publications such as Learning Disabilities Research and Practice and New Times for DLD. Be sure to look for changes and give us your feedback!
Despite the current state of increasing accountability and shrinking budgets, the DLD board, and I remain focused on supporting high quality evidence-based inclusive education for all students with LD. Through collaboration within DLD membership and professional organizations at the national, state, and local levels, we will continue to develop and support initiatives that bridge gaps between research and practice while acknowledging and addressing the constraints of policy, curriculum, assessment, and changes in teacher preparation. To this end, the DLD board will critically examine our financial and management structure so that the strength and relevance of our organization will be maintained for years to come.
We look forward to sharing our ideas with you all this spring at the annual CEC convention in Boston. I, and the board, remain committed to keeping our membership up-to-date with board initiatives and welcome your ideas on how to best meet our objectives.
I have no doubt that our current leadership team will serve DLD membership well. I look forward to my year as President of DLD and look forward to working with the board and membership this year. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance in any way. My email address is Pre@TeachingLD.org.
Linda H. Mason, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
President, Division of Learning Disabilities, Council for Exceptional Children