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NY Post
New York Post
1 Jul 2023

NextImg:Parents blast new ‘Into Reading’ curriculum as dumbed-down ‘snoozefest’

Parents are blasting the new reading curriculum that will debut in some public elementary schools in the fall as a dumbed-down step backwards.

“Into Reading” offers kids a chance to coast by with simplistic passages about “superhero squirrels” and “an African mouse,” instead of actual books, critics said.

“These scripted curriculums are generic, not challenging enough and not developed with our students and their cultures in mind,” said Park Slope parent Alina Lewis.

Topics cover animals and history, said Natalie Wexler, author of “The Knowledge Gap,” but it is “very disjointed, very superficial.”

A third-grade lesson is called “Let Freedom Ring.”

“It’ll give you facts about the Lincoln Memorial … but there’s no information about the Civil War or anything more about Abraham Lincoln,” said Wexler.

Alina Lewis is one Brooklyn parent critical of the Into Reading and Into Literature programs coming in September.
Helayne Seidman

In May, Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks announced a citywide literacy campaign. As part of it, half of the city’s superintendents picked one of three elementary curricula to roll out in the fall.

Most chose “Into Reading” from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Experts said the other two, Wit & Wisdom and EL Education, are far better, offering esteemed works such as Newbery Medal-winning author Sharon Creech’s novel “Love that Dog,” and “Esperanza Rising,” a historical fiction novel considered a “canon” of children’s literature.

A webpage from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publisher of the curriculum Into Reading.
Into Reading from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was the most popular choice for superintendents to implement next year.

In Brooklyn’s District 20, which covers Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Borough Park, Superintendent David Pretto is taking it a step further by introducing “Into Literature,” the next step after “Into Reading,” to middle schools.

“The entire sixth through eighth grade middle school curriculum is much loved by parents,” griped Marjorie Naidich, a Park Slope parent who is unhappy with the new reading program.

“My youngest son was really bored with reading and writing when he came to [Brooklyn School of Inquiry],” said Kiera Nieuwejaar of Park Slope. 

“He actually spent half of this past year writing a multi-chapter adventure story inspired by the books that he read and discussed in class,” Nieuwejaar continued. “This kind of deep intellectual work is something I don’t see in the Into Reading curriculum.”

Kid reads in a classroom
Approximately half of the city’s school districts will roll out new reading curricula for elementary schools.
Getty Images

Into Reading is a “clear step behind,” said literary specialist Karen Vaites. “It does not consistently have texts at kids’ grade level.”

“It’s not doing a strong, consistent job of making sure that kids are really learning content,” she added.

It has “everything but the kitchen sink,” she said, yet one teacher called it a “snooze fest.”

A girl reads a book on a couch.
Critics say Into Reading lacks depth and rich literacy materials.
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Pretto acknowledged at a meeting this month that the curriculum is jam-packed. “One of the benefits and also potential pitfalls of the curriculum, if it’s not implemented strategically, is that there’s a lot there,” he said.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt distributed free materials during the pandemic, which may have helped land it among the curriculum offerings, Chalkbeat reported. The Department of Education declined to tell the site how much the program would cost.

The DOE and HMH did not respond to inquiries from The Post.