As New York embarks on an ambitious plan to overhaul how children in the nation’s largest school system are taught to read, schools leaders face a significant obstacle: educators’ skepticism.
Dozens of cities and states have sought to transform reading instruction in recent years, driven by decades of research known as the “science of reading.” But the success of their efforts has hinged in part on whether school leaders are willing to embrace a seismic shift in their philosophy about how children learn.
Already in New York City, the rollout has frustrated principals. The schools chancellor, David C. Banks, is forcing schools to abandon strategies he says are a top reason half of students in grades three to eight are not proficient in reading.
But principals will lose control over selecting reading programs at their schools, and their union has criticized the speed of change. And many educators still believe in “balanced literacy,” a popular approach that aims to foster a love of books through independent reading time but that experts and the chancellor say lacks enough focus on foundational skills.
“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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