Can Mayor Adams Create a National Model for Dyslexia?

It’s Tuesday, lobby day in Albany. The halls of the LOB (legislative office building) are jammed with New Yorkers lobbying for whatever. I spent a day sitting with a legislator friend listening to dairy farmers arguing for milk price supports, CUNY college students wanting reductions in tuition, a steady flow of New Yorkers exercising their constitutional rights. There are only seven legislative days left in the session and legislators are anxious, very anxious to get back to their districts and campaign, especially with new district lines.

On the agenda is the question of mayoral control of New York City schools, the current law sunsets on June 30th and Mayor Adams is in Albany meeting with legislators. There are “easy fixes,” extend the law for a year or two, as well a host of other ideas floating around the halls of Albany. None of the legislative leaders were in Albany and City and State reports,

 Senator Liu [Chairman of the NYC Education Committee] said that his conference has not yet reached a consensus on the matter of mayoral control, adding that he has colleagues with “a range of opinions and with varying intensities.” But he said he expects Democrats in his chamber will reach a resolution. “That resolution, I am confident, will not allow New York City schools to revert back to the system that existed 20 years ago with local school boards,”

Adams is suffering from what could be a fatal disease, foot in mouth disease. His popularity numbers are waning and he may be losing his most important supporter, Rupert Murdoch and the NY Post. Ross Barkan in NY Magazine writes,

the Post is taking on a more adversarial stance, hitting Adams for hiring cronies and failing to curb high crime — just as the mayor’s numbers tumble from their early highs. If the paper truly turns on him, his whole mayoralty could be at risk.

Chancellor Banks eliminated the position of Executive Superintendent and required all Community Superintendents submit letters of resignation and reapply for their jobs with other applicants (See process here).

In a Queens district the C-37 Committee did not move the current superintendent to the next level, effectively firing him, 2500 parents signed a position objecting and local electeds expressed their displeasure,

Several politicians, including Council Member Tiffany Caban and State Sen. Michael Gianaris, also took part in a press conference Friday to protest [the superinedent’s] removal — that comes as Mayor Eric Adams is planning a trip to Albany to push for mayoral control of the city schools.

 “This is a strange way to operate when the mayor is trying to persuade the state to give him control of the schools,” said Gianaris, the deputy majority leader. “He’s his own worst enemy.” [Gianaris did not meet with Adams today]

The Department apparently relented, changed its policy and will move all currently serving superintendents to the next level in the process.

Failing to keep key legislators in the loop is “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

In the midst of the sturm und drang the most impactful announcement of his administration was a one-day story.

For all the criticism of de Blasio he created a national model, Barkan, perhaps unkindly writes,

Adams, despite promising a “get stuff done” tenure, hasn’t really done much. De Blasio promised to combat income inequality and secured funding for a universal pre-K program in his very first year. The program is now a national model. No similar policy ambition exists for Adams, who seems to most revel in showing up at crime scenes and partying with celebrities.

Mayor Adams announced a major program to address dyslexia, a learning disability which effects 20 percent of the population and represents 80–90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. It is the most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders.

The initiative:

  • School officials plan to develop a universal dyslexia screening program  nearly all students for dyslexia,
  • 80 elementary schools and 80 middle schools will receive additional support for addressing the needs of children with dyslexia.
  • The city will also open two new dyslexia programs — one at P.S. 125 Ralph Bunche in Harlem and the other at P.S. 161 Juan Ponce de Leon in the South Bronx — with a goal of opening similar programs in each borough by 2023.
  • Officials also plan to train all teachers, and will create a new dyslexia task force. School leaders are requiring school principals to pivot to a phonics-based literacy curriculum, which literacy experts say is the most effective way to teach reading to most children.

Dyslexia is a complex disorder, as with autism there is a spectrum of level of types of dyslexia.. A common approach is structured literacy, Read here.

If the dyslexia screening program determines the student is on the dyslexia spectrum the student is designated, by law, as a student with a disability, a special education student.  Far more male Black students are “tested” into special education; the term is disproportionality,

Years of research point to inequities in education for students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students with disabilities. These inequities are particularly apparent when it comes to rates of discipline and special education enrollment. The term “significant disproportionality” is used to describe the widespread trend of students of certain racial and ethnic groups being identified for special education

Additionally, is the identification of children of color is subject to implicit bias? The Role of Implicit Bias: Dyslexia Diagnosis and Race, Read here.

Dyslexia requires specific modes of instruction and requires identification of students and specific training of teachers, a major change from the current instructional methodologies.

Adams and his team are moving down a complex road, if he navigates the pitfalls he will create a national model.

2 responses to “Can Mayor Adams Create a National Model for Dyslexia?

  1. I agree with all your insight of Mayor Eric Adams. I don’t see whatever he attempts to do in NYC! ie “Getting Homeless off the Streets while he takes their only belongings & lock them up & then have them pick it up” & take it ???? “Failure”. He’s “Mayor” Talks & Party multiple times per Week ( Celeb Mayor) The worst thing hiring Alvin Bragg which shut down Trump Case & will not show his Taxes. Controlling Education it would be worst.


  2. Pingback: Repairing a Leviathan in Flight: Rebuilding a School System | Ed In The Apple

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