New York Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a new statewide literacy program called “Back to Basics” on Wednesday, emphasizing a phonics-based curriculum.
The initiative follows New York City’s comprehensive literacy education reforms in elementary school districts across the city.
The urgency of this literacy overhaul stems from the concerning statistic that less than 40% of Black and Latino third graders in the state have achieved proficiency in English Language Arts, as indicated by the state’s last year test scores.
Governor Hochul’s plan aims to revamp the current reading teaching methods, which are considered outdated, by introducing the science of reading approach across all school districts by 2025.
This approach concentrates on phonics, focusing on the sounds that letters make, to aid children in learning to read.
“We’re going to turn the page on how we teach young people to read. This is a long overdue opportunity.” Hochul stated at a press conference in Watervliet, New York.
The governor’s office has announced a $10 million investment to train 20,000 teachers in the best practices of Science of Reading instruction.
Additionally, SUNY and CUNY’s micro-credentialing programs will expand for teachers, with a specific focus on the Science of Reading, to ensure that current and future educators pursuing advanced education are well-prepared.
New York State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa supported this initiative, emphasizing the importance of “evidence-based literacy instruction methods” in enhancing literacy skills.
This proposal aligns with a broader trend, as 26 states have enacted laws since 2019 advocating for phonics-based literacy instruction.
Research indicates that this method is particularly effective for students with learning disabilities and those for whom English is a second language.
New York City has already started implementing a similar approach, initiated by Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks in May, focusing on phonics in literacy education.
The literacy program in New York City stands as a hallmark of Mayor Adams’ policy, stemming from his personal experience with dyslexia.
As Governor Hochul prepares for her upcoming State of the State address next Tuesday, this literacy education initiative is expected to be a key part of her legislative agenda, alongside other significant proposals like the plan to reduce insulin co-payments for New Yorkers.