On Thursday, February 8th, Mayor Eric Adams, along with Schools Chancellor David Banks and Assemblyman Robert Carroll, announced an investment of $100,000 into landmark programs for students with dyslexia as well as other language-based learning disabilities.
The funds will help boost the specialized programs for students at PS107 and PS295, which are located in Community School District 15 in Brooklyn. Those schools will now be a part of the Structured Literacy Schools pilot program. The investment allows educators at both schools to undergo extensive, in-depth training and receive “specialized instruction” from interventionists on how to instruct students diagnosed with dyslexia.
The Structured Literacy Schools program launched at the beginning of the school year in September 2022, with 80 elementary schools and 80 middle schools receiving support and training in spotting students who show signs of dyslexia as well as intervention methods for those diagnosed. PS 125 in Manhattan and PS 161 in the Bronx currently both offer programs specialized for those students. The DOE has expressed its plan to have at least one school in each borough offer a specialized instructional program by Fall 2023.
Mayor Adams has publicly shared his struggle in the education system as someone who has dyslexia. At the announcement of the program back in May 2022, Adams said, “As a student, I struggled with identifying my dyslexia until long after leaving the public school system. By changing the way we approach dyslexia, we can unlock the untapped potential in students who may feel insecure about their dyslexia or any other language-based learning disabilities they may have.”
The program includes screening for dyslexia in addition to specialized classes. According to a press release by the Adams Administration, over 500 students across the 1st-5 grades at 40 schools in the city have been screened for risk of dyslexia and other print-based learning disabilities.
In the press release, Adams said, “For far too long, children across the city suffered in silence as they struggled in school with an undetected learning disability, just as I did, and their parents hopelessly agonized over the inability to help their little ones, just as my mother did.”
He continued, “Stories like these are too common, which is why our administration has put literacy at the forefront of our policy and citywide programming. We will continue to invest in these upstream solutions in our education system to provide our students with the support they need to thrive.”
Schools Chancellor Banks continued Adams’ sentiment, saying, “We are building on our early successes and scaling our specialized instruction pilot. Our schools are truly preparing students for bold futures when every student can read. Thanks to this generous investment, we’re another step closer to making sure every student has access to the services they need without leaving their neighborhood.”
Assemblymember Carroll, who fought to secure the $100,000 in the state budget, shared that he was proud to invest in the “landmark” DOE program. Carroll said, “With two-thirds of New York State’s fourth graders currently failing to read at grade level, it is clear that there is a reading crisis among our school children. As someone who was fortunate to have my own dyslexia identified in 1st Grade and receive evidence-based literacy interventions that were structured and sequential, I know how important early identification and intervention are to remediating dyslexia and making all children academically successful.”
According to the Department of Education, all New York City teachers, spanning kindergarten to 12th grade, have taken part in a two-hour introductory training by the organization Made by Dyslexia. Teachers at targeted schools will also have access to additional literacy support. Over the past year, there has already been a shift to accommodate the new DOE requirement of phonics-based literacy curriculums.
The news of the $100,000 investment comes just months before New York City hosts the World Dyslexia Assembly. The event, held by Made By Dyslexia, will take place on April 3rd at Lincoln Center. LittleAfrica News will cover the assembly and news surrounding the event.