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NY Post
New York Post
5 Aug 2023


NextImg:NY schoolchildren can’t read — yet state leaders refuse to act

Look what The New York Times finally discovered: New York school kids — in alarming numbers — can’t read.  

On Wednesday, the paper reported the state is behind the rest of the nation in fixing its reading program and that declines in fourth-grade reading scores here on last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress test were twice the national average.

In large districts like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, as many as eight in 10 kids fail annual reading tests; in Gotham, less than half pass.

This is old news to anyone paying attention, but the folks in charge of state education policy have other priorities.

Other states, and New York City under Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor David Banks, have taken steps to fix the problem by re-emphasizing phonics instruction, which all the science now shows is the best way to help kids learn.

But the state Board of Regents and its minions at the State Education Department are more interested in protecting teachers from consequences for school failures and getting kids through the system as soon as possible, regardless of how little they’ve learned.

Look what The New York Times reported that New York state is behind the rest of the nation in fixing its reading program.

Denver Post via Getty Images

That fourth-grade reading stat, by the way, is critical: Kids who don’t acquire basic reading skills by that point are more likely to fare poorly in life: dropping out of school, in poverty, and in jail.

The chief problem: For years, educators (not just in New York but throughout the nation) bought into a teaching approach that shunned phonics (learning to “sound” out letters and words) for the far less effective “balanced literacy” approach long pushed by Columbia’s Lucy Calkins and other “experts.”

Countless numbers of kids failed to get a solid base early on.

Mayor Eric Adams.

New York City under Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor David Banks has re-emphasized phonics instruction, which is one of the best ways to help kids learn.
Gabriella Bass

Then, with the outbreak of COVID in 2020, union-driven school closures and remote “learning” turned the tragedy into a full-blown catastrophe, with severe learning loss in reading and math.

In response, nearly every state passed laws or shifted their teaching programs to adapt.

But not New York — except the city, where Adams and Banks did announce a major return to phonics-based teaching and other measures to get kids to read.

Young female distance teacher having video conference call with pupil using webcam.

Remote learning had its pros and cons during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Shutterstock / Aleksandra Suzi

Thanks to the regents’ other priorities — helping the teacher’s unions ensure that even ineffective teachers stay in classrooms, scrapping or dumbing down tests under the ridiculous banner of “anti-racism and equity” to hide the failures — virtually nothing has been done on the state level.

Many districts continue to use reading-instruction methods that are scientifically proven not to work.

Nor has Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted a finger: Instead, a spokeswoman points to hikes in school aid on the gov’s watch, as if spending more on failed methods will improve outcomes.

NY Governor Kathy Hochul delivered a speech at 633 Third Avenue in Manhattan.

NY Governor Kathy Hochul delivered a speech at 633 Third Avenue in Manhattan.
Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Typical: What matters most to the gov and pols like her is not whether kids learn but how much money the state is shelling out.

No wonder New York consistently spends more per student than any other state and with mediocre results.

We’ve been flagging all this for years. Cross your fingers that the Times stays awake to New York’s student-reading disaster, rather than reverting to its usual blithe ignorance: A full-on, across-the-spectrum push might force state leaders to admit the damage and finally focus on getting kids educated.