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Hochul wants schools to go ‘back to basics’ to bolster reading scores, but will it work?

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York has introduced a transformative educational initiative, “Back to Basics,” focusing on revamping how children in the state learn to read. The program, unveiled in her State of the State Address, emphasizes the use of practices rooted in the “Science of Reading.” This approach integrates insights about brain development and language acquisition, particularly focusing on phonics and vowel and consonant sounds.


The Science of Reading Plan, central to Hochul’s initiative, is built around five key principles, aiming to cater to the varying developmental phases of children. Rob Price, Superintendent of the Onondaga Central School District, highlights the success of implementing this approach, noting significant improvements in children’s phonemic awareness and reading skills. The district has been using the Science of Reading method for two years.

Governor Hochul’s proposal includes a $10 million investment to train 20,000 educators in this method. Price endorses this investment, stressing the importance of reading as a foundational skill for learning and preparing children to become productive citizens. The goal is for New York school districts to adopt the Science of Reading practice by 2025, enhancing student learning one page at a time.