New York City announced that it would be taking increased action to support and improve the learning outcomes of dyslexic students in the city’s school system.
Mayor Eric Adams, who himself struggles with dyslexia, has set aside $7.4 million in his proposed executive budget toward creating resources and establishing testing protocols for dyslexic students. A finalized budget will be decided upon by July 1.
“I know from my own life the challenges that a learning disability creates for a child and how they can be overcome with early diagnosis and the right support,” Adams said.
The funding would allow for the city to adopt measures such as the development of two new reading centers for children with reading disabilities, to be located in the Bronx and Harlem. Additionally, the funding would be used to develop dyslexia screening programs for young students in the city’s school system.
As with similar plans in California to establish improved screening practices for dyslexia and other learning disabilities, some critics have claimed that the measures are not enough to ensure improvements for dyslexic students. Many advocates believe teachers should be better trained to work with dyslexic students, given the fact that such a large number of students struggle with the disorder. Mayor Adams’s office intends to develop a more detailed plan to be shared with the public in the near future. According to Adams, these efforts aren’t merely aiming to improve students’ classroom achievement. As mayor, he has heavily emphasized efforts to combat the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, and he has noted that improving accessibility for dyslexic students could also aid in this goal. When compared to the general population, prisoners have extremely high rates of dyslexia—about half of the nation’s prisoners have dyslexia, compared with around one-fifth of the general population. Because many dyslexic prisoners drop out of school early on in their academic careers due to severe learning difficulties, Adams believes that better identifying learning disabilities early on could help keep children in school and out of prisons. Andrew Warner