Guest Opinion: A Historic Shift in How We Teach Our Children To Read

May 9, 2023: NYC Mayor Eric Adams (at podium) at the launch announcement for NYC Reads. | Photo via

BY NYC MAYOR ERIC ADAMS | New York City has the largest public school system in the nation, and we are proud of our dedicated teachers and administrators who do so much to educate our talented students from so many different backgrounds and countries. We want to set up our students for success—and teaching them to read confidently is crucial to our efforts.

That is why we are making a historic shift in our curriculum, and launching NYC Reads, a program based on proven science-of-reading techniques. We will teach our students skills that they can fall back on to decode words when the level becomes difficult, and we will train our teachers so they can provide instruction effectively.

When our young people don’t learn to read properly they are more likely to struggle, and they can fall into a cycle of poverty and even incarceration.  A staggering 40% of our jail population cannot read properly, and 80% don’t have a high school diploma or equivalency diploma.

The inability to read is not our students’ fault nor our teachers’ fault.  It doesn’t mean that a teacher isn’t doing her job well or that a child is lazy or lacking in ability.  We have been using the wrong methods to teach our children, and now we are shifting course so we can give our young people a chance at a better future.

NYC Reads is personal for me. Even now, when I enter a classroom as mayor, I’m reminded of my life as a child walking into class, hoping and praying that the teacher didn’t call on me to read. I had dyslexia but it wasn’t diagnosed—and every day I was laughed at and humiliated.  I was told that I was dumb.  Now, in addition to making sure that all our students are screened for dyslexia, we will be teaching them reading and mathematics through a proven, scientific, and methodical approach—so that they don’t have to suffer the way I did.

As we switch to NYC Reads, we are asking our parents and community leaders to step up as well.  Attend an Open House at your child’s school, where you can learn about NYC Reads and ask questions.  Ask your children or the children in your care what they are reading about. Can they tell you about the stories they are reading?  And if possible, spend some time reading with them, or let your children see you reading as well!

A child’s best day should not be the day their teacher doesn’t call on them.  Their best day should be when their teacher does call on them, and they can stand up and read. NYC Reads will make that possible.

Learn more about NYC Reads at:

To visit the Office of the Mayor of New York City online, click here.


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