It was quite an event at Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant. In front of a packed auditorium, Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor Banks talked about the challenges they are facing in city education, as well as their plans for the future.
"Today marks the beginning of a very different approach," Banks said.
The mayor and chancellor both at the inaugural address on city-wide education. Adams spoke first and painted a picture of a school system dealing with an array of challenges.
"There's a level of optimism I have every time I walk into a New York City public school. These are challenging moments for us and I'm concerned," Adams said.
Banks described his mission as bright starts and bold futures. The foundation of both pillars, he said, is a new approach to teaching kids to read.
"For too long we have not taught our kids the proper way to read," Banks said. "We are fixing that playbook starting right now. We certainly want all our children to love to read, but first we want to teach them what? How to read."
Speaking to reporters after the event, Banks said 51% of students in city schools were not reading at grade level in 2022. The new reading curriculum is centered around the use of phonics and other research-backed strategies that will help students not only be able to sound out words, but understand them.
CBS New York asked the chancellor about the response he's gotten so far from teachers.
"Everywhere I've gone teachers have said, 'Thank God. This just makes so much sense,'" Banks said.
Banks said teachers have taken the blame for their students lack of literacy for far too long. He said he thinks the new curriculum will help solve the problem.
"When they read by the third grade, I'm telling you, it opens up all the avenues for success. And when they do not, we have to spend millions of dollars for this program and that program," Banks said.
School safety, both in and around our schools, was also among the topics discussed. The chancellor mentioned a stabbing Tuesday outside a school in Brownsville.
"The kids who decided to stab other kids yesterday? That's our failure. It's our failure," Banks said.
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