Congressman Bruce Westerman, a Republican who represents the state’s Fourth Congressional District, spent time on Monday, April 10 in Logan County.
Westerman, of Hot Springs, visited Scranton Elementary School that morning and spent a hour talking with around 40 people invited to lunch at the First National Bank Community Center in Paris later in the day. Westerman was back in his district while on a two-week break from Congress.
During lunch, Westerman gave an update on the current Congressional session and talked at length about a GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Legislation aimed at that has stalled, having been pulled back before a vote in the House. Westerman expressed optimism that the legislation will be eventually passed by the House and sent to the Senate.
“One group feels the bill didn’t go far enough and another group feels it goes too far,” Westerman said in describing a split on the proposal within the GOP House membership. “So, we’ve got a little bit of a conflict going on.”
Westerman admitted that he didn’t like the way it was “rolled out” and wasn’t “crazy about some of the things in the bill,” but expressed an optimistic outlook throughout the discussion.
“Chances are, the health care bill will be voted on,” he said. “If we don’t get health care done, tax reform will be a lot harder to do.”
Westerman said that while many may see few accomplishments so far, work is getting done.
“I’m working harder than I ever have before,” he said.
Westerman traveled to Scranton Elementary School to observe its Science of Reading program, which identifies dyslexic students early so they can get the specialized learning they need.
Jennifer Hampton, literacy and dyslexia specialist at Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative, said the Scranton Science of Reading program starts children with the sounds of the English language then moves on to how those sounds are spelled. This is followed by learning to read those sounds and then learning how to write and spell.
Jamie Siebenmorgen, the dyslexia interventionist at Scranton Elementary, explained the Scranton Science of Reading program uses a three-tier system. Hampton said there are also two programs being used within this program, with Fundations, the regular phonics program for all students, being used in the first two tiers and the Wilson Reading System being used in third for dyslexic students.
Those participating in the tour got to see all three tiers of the Science of Reading program in action.
After the event, Westerman said he learned that Scranton Elementary School is doing a good job of implementing the Science of Reading.
“We got to observe some amazing students and some amazing teachers, and I’m just glad that they’ve taken the initiative to implement this Science of Reading program, and you can see the results,” Westerman said. “You can’t watch this and deny that these kids aren’t getting great instruction. …”
(The Times Record of Fort Smith contributed information used in this report.)