City announces universal academic recovery plan

Happy black teacher giving exam paper to her student while wearing protective face mask in the classroom.
Photo via Getty Images

New York City is set to roll out a robust academic recovery plan with the hopes of improving the quality of education while simultaneously helping kids recover from the pandemic.

The city will spend a total of $635 million on the Universal Academic Recovery Plan. 

“It’s not just enough to bring kids back to classrooms we have to help them recover academically, emotionally in so many ways,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a July 8 press conference. 

The plan focuses on six major areas: Early literacy; developing students as digital citizens; preparing students for college and careers; investing in special education services; building a universal curriculum across all city schools; and expanding social and emotional learning support. It also includes reducing class sizes. 

The city will develop a new universal curriculum that will be called the Universal Mosaic Curriculum. The curriculum will fully launch in 2023, de Blasio said, but new reading books will be given to classrooms this fall. A total of 9 million new books will be added to classroom libraries and the curriculum will emphasize culturally responsive literature. There will also be targeted professional development of teachers. 

“We need a curriculum that works for our kids and our educators, that allows our children to learn in a way relevant to their lives,” said de Blasio. 

The city will also continue to expand access to devices like tablets and laptops to students by ordering another 175,000 to develop what de Blasio called “digital citizens.” Computer science programs will be expanded to serve 400,000 students and computer science training will be given to over 5,000 teachers. 

The program also sets out $251 million to increased special education services, including new after-school and Saturday programs. The city plans to open 800 more special education pre-K seats by September 2022, while also expanding committees on preschool special education.  

There is also an expansion to college counseling for juniors and seniors, new AP prep options and the restorations for the College Now program, which offers dual enrollment in high school and college. Student success centers will be added to 34 high schools. 

Developments for some of these programs have already begun, according to Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. The Universal Academic Recovery Plan is part of the larger effort to help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.