NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks is now in his second full year as chancellor and says he's still working to help parents regain trust in the school system.
He said people have concerns over the looming school bus strike, but "Negotiations are happening all around the clock right now."
And some of the biggest complaints are about reading and math scores among students.
"Here's a bit of breaking news, the state is releasing the scores for our schools today," Banks said. "We are up in math and up in reading."
"It's really, really good news for New York City Public Schools," he added.
Eyewitness News viewer Claudine Collins asked the chancellor, "What plans do you have to support the students who are reading below grade level in middle and high schools?"
"There's nothing more important for me than reading and making sure at the earliest ages that we are putting our kids on the right track," he said.
Banks said that for the past 25 years, a method called "Balanced Literacy" did not work. So, the district is going back to the basics.
"It's more than phonics, it's fluency and comprehension of vocabulary and development, it's a very comprehensive approach but we are rolling that out now," he said. "We intend to get every student in New York City Public Schools on grade level for reading no later than the third grade and from there, they will be just able to take off."
Two other top-of-mind issues for parents and community members are school safety and integrating migrant students.
"We brought in 20,000 students. Many of them are students who were living in temporary housing here," Banks said. "We've done a great job with Project Open Arms, it's a challenge for us financially, however, if you want to see NYC Public Schools at their absolute best, you should see how we have been engaging and welcoming in these students."
He said the efforts to help the migrant children assimilate is going well. Banks said that the kids pick up on the language very quickly and that their classmates are helping them.
"Once they show up on own doorstep at our schools, our responsibility is to take care of the babies and that's exactly what we're doing," Banks said.
Another way New York City Schools say they are taking care of students is with a new door-locking system.
"We've seen these mass shootings, these bad guys who walk into our schools and shoot up the schools, and thankfully we have not had that in New York City. But we have installed this new door locking system. We are starting with all of our elementary schools first, with our youngest kids. So, after the kids get in for the opening of school, we're going to lock that front door. And, we're going to make sure if anyone is coming to the building they are going to present their ID, tell us who they are. It's not meant to keep parents away, but it's meant to be an additional layer of safety to make sure that folks who should not be in our schools that they don't get in," Banks said.
A few facts that some people are unaware of when it comes to New York City Schools are these demographics:
- 72.8% economically challenged
- 20.9% have disabilities
- 14.1% English language learners
New York City Public Schools lost 120,000 families in the five years previous to Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks coming aboard.
He says they are turning things around.
First by "Making sure the kids are actually getting a good education and secondly, tell the people about the good news."
In case you are wondering what Chancellor Banks is reading, and he says he is always reading something, it's "Summer on the Bluffs" by "The View's" Sunny Hostin.
"Keep reading, when your kids are coming home ask them what they are reading, keep reading, reading, reading. Reading is the biggest thing that we are talking about so when I see folks not only do I ask, 'How are you doing?' I ask, 'What are you reading?'" Banks said.
Lastly, a special shoutout to PS 10 teacher Ryan Mack from Brooklyn. He's being honored at the "CMA Foundation Music Teachers of Excellence."
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