Photo: Michal Parzuchowski / Unsplash

Banks recently sat down with Gothamist to discuss how he would like NYC schools to focus on “the science of reading,” which focuses on the rigorous teaching of phonics. Banks believes the current methods used in schools don’t work, and is calling for an overhaul.

The truth is, it’s hard to say exactly which methods educators are using to teach reading, and Banks’ big rhetoric follows a sea change in reading instruction across the country. Currently, there is not a universal curriculum used in NYC schools — schools and teachers often use their own strategies. Banks supports schools having autonomy over how their students are educated, but he would like to see the popular Teachers College Lucy Calkins Units of Study curriculum phased out. The Units of Study curriculum uses a workshop model for teaching reading and does not have a focus on phonics, which more and more studies are finding is the essential building block of reading, especially for kids who have challenges learning the subject in the first place. Some schools have already begun to move away from this method, but Banks says that the DOE will not ask schools to pull the curriculum until there is a replacement. 

Nicole Perrino is the founder of, a hyperlocal website for Bronx families where she use her influence to celebrate the beauty that the Bronx has to offer. In addition to her role at Bronxmama,...

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