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Mayor touts city’s focus on literacy after reading to first-graders in Ozone Park

Mayor Bill de Blasio reads to first-grade students at P.S. 377 in Ozone Park before explaining how the city is working to promote literacy in public schools. (Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

In the latest chapter of his “City Hall in Your Borough” program, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter visited a first-grade class at P.S. 377 in Ozone Park on Tuesday, Sept. 21, to accentuate his administration’s commitment to literacy.

The school has a “literacy coach,” one of 425 in elementary schools across the city, who work with the teachers to raise the reading comprehension among school kids.

“This was amazing,” de Blasio said afterward. “This is a new initiative on a huge scale, so huge that we’re making it universal. We call it Literacy for All.”

Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The new initiative is designed to get more and more children reading by a third-grade level.

“That’s the crucial breaking point,” de Blasio explained. “If your kids are reading on grade level by third grade, they are predicted, according to so much research, to do well going forward. We need to get every kid reading on a grade level by third grade.”

It is another component on top of the foundation with Pre-K for All and 3-K for All and the recently announced Baby Bonds initiative to provide kindergarteners at public schools with seeding funds for a college savings program.

“We’re making a huge investment, hundreds of millions of dollars to do something that no city has attempted,” de Blasio said. “We’re flooding classrooms with new books, so there’s plenty of books for every child. We’re doing universal literacy screenings to make sure that we know what each child needs, identifying specific areas of strength and weakness, identifying how we can help them individually, looking for challenges like dyslexia, which is a big issue that can be addressed if it’s identified early enough.”

Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The Mayor did a reading from Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal. Afterward, he spoke of the success of 3-K and pre-K blended with resources from the federal and state government that have combined to create the biggest effort to achieve literacy in the history of New York City.

“We are doing something revolutionary — a focus on literacy like never before, reaching every child,” de Blasio said. “And when we get these kids to third grade, it’s going to be a whole new ball game in this city, because of the ability of these children to succeed in life will be intensified so greatly. Honestly, before, this city never dared to set this goal in so aggressive a manner.”

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