NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks delivers 'State of Our Schools' address amid challenging time

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
NYC Schools Chancellor talks reading levels, school safety and influx of migrant students in 'State
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New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks delivered the State of Our Schools on Wednesday. Kemberly Richardson has highlights of his address.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks delivered the "State of Our Schools" address on Wednesday and announced his top commitments to students.

He delivered his remarks at Boys and Girls High School on Fulton Street in Brooklyn.

Among his top commitments were to make sure every child is a confident reader by third grade and laying a foundation that insures high school graduates are financially literate, prepared for college and ready to enter the work force.

Mayor Eric Adams introduced the chancellor at the event.

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks answers questions about safety, migrants, reading and test scores on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10.

"I appreciate the mayor first of all for selecting me and having the confidence in me to be the chancellor for this school system," Banks said. "There's no mayor I would want to serve under other than Eric Adams."

The chancellor used the address to celebrate the progress of the nation's largest school district and preview what's coming up for NYC public schools.

"So that's why we're here today, to ground ourselves in our mission, the reason we do this work: to ensure each student graduates on a pathway to a rewarding career and long-term economic security, equipped to be a positive force for change. We realize this mission through what I call Bright Starts and Bold Futures: we give our kids the foundational skills-literacy, safety, emotional wellness-for Bright Starts, and we prepare and empower them to build Bold Futures, futures that give them meaning, sustain them financially, and propel them to be leaders in our communities," Banks said.

However, he acknowledged that the city still has a ways to go when it comes to literacy.

"At the core of any school, anywhere in the world, there are a few essential functions. If a school does nothing else, it should teach kids to read and write and think critically so they are equipped to solve the issues of our time," Banks said. "And yet in 2022, 51% of our students - including nearly two-thirds of our Black and Latino students - were not reading at grade level. These results would not be acceptable in any business, in any industry - and they should not be acceptable here."

To tackle that problem, Banks said the school district is throwing out the failed "Balanced Literacy" approach.

"We are shifting to the science of reading-a research-backed approach that prioritizes the foundational skills of strong readers. We will teach our kids phonics. We will teach them to decode complex letter combinations, to sound out words. We will support their fluency and comprehension," Banks said.

His speech comes at a particularly challenging time in New York City amid the migrant crisis and surge of new students. On Tuesday night, people protested the migrants on Staten Island, leading to at least 10 arrests.

"I need us to get through this together. How we get through is not what we saw on Staten Island last night where people are banging and using derogatory terms to identify people based on their ethnicity," Adams said. "That is not who we are as a city. We are 8.3 million people that are tolerant and accepting."

The chancellor made note on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10 last week, that test scores for math and reading were on the rise.

He said he wants to answer the question of, "What is the purpose of school?":

- First, our children will become confident readers by third grade.

- Second, our children will be engaged and challenged in new and exciting ways.

- Third, our children will graduate high school with the knowledge, skills and experiences to be financially literate and prepared to go to college or enter the workforce.

"On some of these promises, we have a long way to go. But I know the best is yet to come," Banks said.


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