Mayor Adams establishes investment to support preschool special education, expand access

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Mayor Eric Adams has said that New York City will finally give children with disabilities the support they deserve in pre-school education.

The new plan includes longer school days, higher pay for teachers, and a whole lot more seats.

Officials said they are trying to right the wrongs of the previous administration.

A joyous class of 3-K preschoolers was sighted at a Harlem school. They were kids with disabilities, who, because of a historic investment announced by city officials, will now have the educational opportunities enjoyed by other city 3-K programs.

“For far too long our students with disabilities have struggled in a system that wasn’t fully able to meet them where they are,” Adams said.

Both the mayor and Schools Chancellor David Banks took pains to point out that the inequities they are correcting were inherited from the Bill de Blasio’s administration.

How else to explain that 3-K special education teachers were paid less, that 3-K special ed class days were shorter, and there weren’t enough seats for all the kids who needed them.

“While we may not have created many of these issues that we inherited as an administration, we recognize it is our responsibility to fix it,” Banks said.

So officials will now spend $130 million over two years to make sure there are enough seats for every special ed preschooler — 3,000 enhanced seats, plus 800 new seats.

But that’s not all.

Officials said 3-K school days will be expanded from five hours to six hours and 20 minutes, like all the other pre-K classes.

“Which provides extended child care for working families,” Banks said.

And teachers will be paid the going rate.

“They’re going to be going up to about $68,000, close to $70,000,” Deputy Chancellor for Special Education Dr. Kara Ahmed said, adding it’s an increase from $50,000 to $58,000.

“That’s what happens when you don’t think its a priority. So, due to this inequity, we have historically struggled to retain staff that can deliver services for children with disabilities,” Banks said.

The chancellor said being able to pay teachers what they’re worth and keep them in the system is, “worthy of a round of applause.”

The funding will also cover efforts to recruit and train more teachers to meet the needs of children with disabilities.

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