New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks yesterday launched the citywide campaign, “New York City Reads,” to declare literacy and reading instruction as the core focus and overriding priority of New York City’s public schools. The campaign renews the commitment of public schools to the primary responsibility of ensuring the city’s students become confident readers and are able to learn basic algebra. With half of New York City students not proficient at reading, and more than two-thirds nationally, Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks declared that now is the time for the city and nation to act.
See below for what they’re saying:
“Reading is fundamental—and we must ensure that our young students are equipped with the skills necessary to become confident readers,” said U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler. “I’m proud to support the “New York City Reads” initiative to turn the tide of declining literacy rates by providing teachers with ongoing, intensive trainings for educators rooted in science.”
“Our youth have to be equipped with all the resources necessary to succeed, especially while recovering from the challenges of learning during the pandemic,” said New York State Senator Leroy Comrie. “I commend Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks on getting back to basics with the “New York City Reads” Campaign. Literacy is a key component to academic success, and we must continue to encourage students to be confident readers through the use of proven methods while equipping teachers with the best possible curriculum tools available.”
“As a strong advocate for literacy and quality education, I wholeheartedly support the “New York City Reads initiative,” said New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “By prioritizing literacy and providing comprehensive resources and professional development for educators, we can empower our students to become confident readers and excel academically. This campaign is a crucial step towards a brighter future for our city and nation.”
“The ability to read makes the whole word possible — and a lack of literacy can be devastating,” said New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “New York City’s growth in literacy rates is deeply needed, and I applaud Mayor Adams for his commitment to this crucial program ensuring all of our youngest New Yorkers can access the literary education they need.”
“I am proud to support Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks in their efforts to combat the literacy crisis facing our schools,” said New York State Assemblymember Bobby Carroll. “The evidence is clear that structured and sequential literacy curricula work best for all children and implementing them will greatly improve academic outcomes. I was fortunate to have my own dyslexia identified in the first grade and receive evidence-based literacy interventions that were structured and sequential. Every child, whether they have dyslexia or not, deserves literacy education that has been proven to be effective.”
“The evidence is overwhelmingly clear: with 50% of New York City schoolchildren unable to read proficiently, our methods have failed to prepare our children with the most basic of life skills,” said New York State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “There is simply no data to support continuing to use methods that have failed our kids for decades. Educators are frustrated that they have been left to their own devices to fill the gaps in their own reading instruction training. Studies overwhelmingly show that evidence-based curricula consistent with the science of reading is the best way to teach educators how to teach children to read, but far too little has been done.”
“The national average is that more than two-thirds of students are not proficient at reading. Mayor Adams and the New York City Department of Education establishing the “New York City Reads” initiative at the forefront of public schools is essential for our children’s future,” said New York State Assemblymember Alicia L. Hyndman. “The focus of the campaign is elementary school children, to get their foundational literacy, and algebra in high schools, to propel students forward into college. Investing in our youth and their education is essential to their future success. Utilizing research-based programs will help educators to learn where there is a lack in the curriculum and better help prepare students.”
“With this bold and historic initiative by Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks, New York City public schools will lead the nation in reading and literacy instruction,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Currently, half of New York City students are not reading proficiently. The time has come to turn this dire situation around. People who are proficient in reading earn 40% more income, are six times more likely to graduate high school, have 70% higher math and science test scores, and are more than twice as likely to report being satisfied with their lives. The “New York City Reads” campaign implements the latest evidence-based, custom-tailored reading and math curricula, coupled with comprehensive training of educators. This will allow every student of every background to reach proficiency in reading and to reach their full potential in life. We owe it to our kids to give them this chance.”
“A back-to-basics approach that emphasizes reading would be great,” said New York State Assemblymember Lester Chang.
“Every student deserves an education that invests in them, not their zip code,” said New York State Assemblymember John Zaccaro, Jr. “Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks demonstrates our investment in the futures of our youth extends beyond just dollars and cents but includes enacting smart, effective policies for them to realize their full academic potential. All parents want what is best for their children and to watch them grow and flourish. “’New York City Reads” ensures educators have the tools and resources they need to help our children succeed.”
“We must do everything we can to set our youngest New Yorkers up for success, and that must start with effectively teaching them to read,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “We know that literacy is essential for young people to succeed in school and beyond. I commend the mayor and chancellor for their commitment and focus on a literacy crisis that is leaving students behind, and for their bold work to address systemic failures in how we have taught young New Yorkers.”
“Acknowledging our city’s literacy gaps and the fact that some students face unique disadvantages is critical to understanding how best to address these setbacks and do right by our youngest New Yorkers,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “The mayor and chancellor’s “New York City Reads” initiative sets the foundation for this. I’m looking forward to witnessing this initiative be implemented and watching our students flourish with the extra resources and attention to their individual growth.”
“Reading is the foundation upon which all other educational opportunities grow. I am in full support of our city’s bold and decisive action to implement “New York City Reads” to help put our students firmly on the path to success,” said New York City Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse. “I am excited that phonics-based teaching is making a return which I anticipate will make a positive impact on our citywide literacy rates.”
“The best thing we can do to ensure our young scholars have access to a quality education is by investing in programs like ‘New York City Reads,’” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “Campaigns like this zero in on classroom instruction in our public schools and address the needs of our students and their teachers, making for a brighter, more fair academic career. Quality education is a fundamental right of all students, and when they win, we all win.”
“Nothing is more important than teaching every child to read. It builds their confidence, serves as a solid foundation for learning, and literally opens up an entire new world they can explore,” said Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education. “Ensuring teachers have access to the most effective curricula, and that the nation’s largest school system is aligning its elementary schools behind the science of reading, are critical strategies to ensuring our children can reach their full academic and social potential. This is a critical step forward for New York City, and a model for others to follow.”
“I applaud Chancellor David Banks for his leadership in designing and implementing the “New York City Reads” campaign,” said Lester W. Young, Jr., chancellor, New York State Education Department Board of Regents. “Far too many young people lack the literacy skills necessary to be successful at the next levels of their educational and career pursuits, particularly our students placed at greatest risk, which should alarm all of us. Experience and research have long documented phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension as effective components of reading instruction. A comprehensive approach to literacy requires the incorporation of evidenced-based strategies, extensive and coherent professional development, and consistent support for teachers so they obtain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse student population.”
“To become proficient readers, young children need effective, engaging curriculum and instruction based in phonemic awareness and phonics, alongside the background knowledge and vocabulary crucial to comprehending the words and ideas outlined in text,” John B. King, Jr., chancellor, The State University of New York (SUNY). “We know what works, and from PreK-12 to higher education, we need to match that understanding with real urgency and resources. I applaud the New York City Public Schools’ launch of “New York City Reads,” and as the state’s largest teacher preparation provider, SUNY is committed to being a partner to ensure that all children – especially those who have too long been under-served – are on track to be confident, excited, and joyous readers throughout their lives.”
“Learning to read is critical to a student’s lifelong academic success and I applaud our partners at the New York City Public School system for taking important steps to invest in this important work,” said The City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “CUNY and the New York City Public Schools have a long history of creative and productive partnerships, and we look forward to continuing to reimagine ways to help lift students academically, socially and economically, which will also help lift our city.”
“As an educator for more than 45 years I can state unequivocally that reading is the bedrock to educational accomplishments in our country,” said Geoffrey Canada, president, Harlem Children’s Zone. “We were diverted from the science of reading by following fanciful strategies that did not produce results, especially for our students that struggle the most. It’s time to get back to basics, and the chancellor’s re-design of the reading strategy is long overdue and should be applauded.”
“This is the crisis of our time: Our children, especially Black and brown children, are not receiving the literacy foundation that they need,” said Hazel Dukes, president, NAACP New York State Conference. “As leaders and pillars of the community, we must stand alongside our education leaders as they work to correct a system that lacks quality learning materials or strong enough coaching, training, and professional learning. Educators and decision-makers at the city, state, and national levels must act now to adopt proven curricula and methods of teaching reading. Students in urban, suburban, rural, and exurban districts across the country are reading at inexcusable levels and we must support the students in our communities as they make the pivot to literacy training that works!”
“The National Urban League wholeheartedly supports the “New York City Reads” campaign, as it exemplifies a strong commitment to closing the literacy gap for all students, particularly those in underserved communities,” said Marc Morial, president, National Urban League. “This groundbreaking initiative sets a new standard for fostering strong readers and fostering academic success across diverse populations. We applaud Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for taking this bold step towards a brighter future for every child, regardless of their background or identity.”
“The New York Public Library applauds Mayor Adams for making reading and literacy a priority for our students,” said Tony Marx, president & CEO, The New York Public Library. “Reading is a superpower that every young person needs to succeed. We are eager to partner with the Department of Education to make this initiative a success, particularly with our Center for Educators and Schools to provide enhanced support and access to important resources.”
“Literacy is a civil rights issue. When children learn to read well by the end of third grade, they are more likely to graduate from high school and achieve greater lifetime earnings, which are key to avoiding poverty,” said Richard R. Buery Jr., CEO, Robin Hood. “Robin Hood is proud to support ‘New York City Reads,’ a bold effort by New York City public schools to ensure every child is a strong and proficient reader.”
“Chancellor Banks and his team are taking an important step forward with the “New York City Reads” campaign, the combination of curriculum and coaching supports for educators will – over time – improve literacy outcomes for emergent readers and ensure fewer children are moved along through the system without the capacity to decode and understand what they are reading,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, president, Bank Street College of Education.
“Parents count on schools to teach their children how to read, but New York City’s approach to literacy instruction and curriculum selection hasn’t been working for too many students and teachers,” said Kim Sweet, executive director, Advocates for Children of New York. “Ensuring quality and continuity of elementary ELA curriculum within schools and within districts won’t solve all the problems, but it should be a big, important step in the right direction.”
“The focus on research-based curricula and professional development for educators in the “New York City Reads” campaign is a powerful combination that will truly benefit our children,” said Sherry Cleary, former executive director, New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and university dean, Office of Early Childhood Initiatives at CUNY.
“Chancellor Banks’ plan to improve reading instruction in New York City is exactly what our schools and students need,” said Pedro Noguera, Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean, University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. “Early literacy creates the foundation for a lifetime of learning. For too long we have failed to provide teachers with the guidance and support needed to ensure that students can read with proficiency by third grade. The chancellor’s plan will address this problem through comprehensive support to schools throughout New York City.”
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