Hochul: ‘Turn the page’ on state’s reading curriculum

Hochul proposes revamping reading curriculum

Hochul proposes revamping reading curriculum

Saying the current approaches to teaching reading have not been working, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday said it is time to get “Back to Basics.”

Hochul stopped by Watervliet Elementary School to unveil her second proposal ahead of next week’s State of the State. She proposed to revamp the state’s curriculum to stress phonics, decoding, vocabulary and comprehension.

“Today we’re going to turn the page in how we teach young people to read,” she said.

Too many students were struggling in reading, especially those with learning disabilities and those who speak English as second language, according to Hochul. Educators had moved away from a phonics-based approach to one that was based upon exposing children to different books and developing proficiency. However, the governor said that was not working.

“If you’re taking piano lessons, for example, you have to learn the basics first. You don’t just listen to some beautiful concert music from Beethoven and say ‘I can do that,’” she said.

Hochul said people who cannot read will struggle in school and it will be hard to go onto college or learn a trade and find a good-paying job.

Other states, including Connecticut, have shifted to the new approach. New York City also has implemented it, Hochul said.

She is proposing $10 million to train 20,000 more teachers in the science of reading.

Watervliet fourth-grade teacher Jeanne Lance, who has been an educator for 32 years, said the district is already using the new approach.

“We are seeing in real time just how well our students are responding,” she said. 

New York United Teachers President Melinda Person said she is excited about the new curriculum, which are not the result of the latest fad, she said, but tens of thousands of research-based studies about the best ways to learn reading.