NYC schools face a huge task by teaching all kids to read

POLITICS: NYC schools face a huge task by teaching all kids to read

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Reading is fundamental — or so you might think. But, as The Post’s Cayla Bamberger reported last week, parents and education advocates across the city are demanding that the Department of Education do more to help all students learn how to read.

In 2019 (the last full pre-COVID school year), less than half of all Grades 3-8 students were proficient in reading. Then the debacle of remote learning set back all kids, leaving Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor David Banks a lot of damage to undo.

Adams’ own struggle with long-undiagnosed dyslexia informs his approach: His budget plan earmarks $7.4 million for dyslexia screening and support programs, plus launching two new schools for students with reading disabilities in Harlem and The Bronx.

Banks, meanwhile, wants to rethink the DOE’s approach to literacy by stressing phonics at an earlier age. That’s a huge win for kids and common sense over the ideologues who dominate the education establishment.

Sadly, that includes the State Education Department and Board of Regents, who in recent years have focused on dropping standards across the board to conceal rather than heal the system’s failings. That’s produced rising high-school graduation rates even as remote learning left all too many kids actually learning far less.

The SED’s new “alternative pathways to graduation” serve to confer diplomas on functional illiterates. Teens (especially ones with learning disabilities) get steered into paths where the system doesn’t have to address their problems learning to read.

Since they’re disproportionately minority kids, it’s a kind of racial segregation — the very sort of “inequity” that such progressives supposedly despise.

Adams is spot-on when he laments that the DOE’s $37 billion a year in taxpayer money isn’t buying a whole lot of learning success for the great majority of city students, especially black and Hispanic ones, who don’t perform at grade level in reading or math.

There’s no greater social-justice cause than helping poor and minority students learn to read. It’s a shame the mayor and chancellor need to fight not only the DOE’s inertia and the misbegotten policies of the last mayor but also the state education authorities as well as the ideologues and special interests who’d rather cover up the injustice than truly confront it.



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