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NYC shelves $202 million plan to create a universal curriculum

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New York City has shelved a $202 million plan to create a universal curriculum.

On his way out of office, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious $202 million plan to create a universal K-12 reading and math curriculum by fall 2023, promising lessons and materials that reflected the diversity of the city’s students.

But after months of uncertainty, Mayor Eric Adams is not creating a math and reading curriculum from scratch.

An education department spokesperson said the previous administration’s vision was not feasible because individual schools — and their student populations — vary considerably. De Blasio left few concrete plans for the new administration, the spokesperson added.

The de Blasio administration previously said the newly created curriculum would be mandatory, a major change for school leaders who currently have wide latitude to select materials. The education department will continue to recommend reading and math curriculums, but is not mandating a specific choice, a spokesperson said.

Abandoning plans to roll out a universal math and reading curriculum originally set to launch next fall frustrated several advocates who argue those materials are still needed.

“It’s highly disappointing,” said Natasha Capers, director of the Coalition for Educational Justice, an advocacy group that pushed for a universal, culturally responsive curriculum. “The chancellor continues to say that literacy and reading are highly important,” Capers added, “but they have not done the work needed to make sure that every school and every teacher has a proper curriculum.”

Still, the department is moving forward with a project called “Mosaic” — the name of the curriculum de Blasio proposed — albeit with a more limited scope, said Carolyne Quintana, the education department’s deputy chancellor of teaching and learning..

The focus will be on a slew of “hidden voices” social studies curriculums, an umbrella that she said includes Black studies and materials focused on LGBTQ people and the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. (Those curriculums are in various stages of rolling out to schools.)

“There’s been a decision that Mosaic is this collection of different hidden voices pieces that will be part of our social studies — and those are K-12,” Quintana said, adding that the department is working on building a team focused on culturally responsive education, and training would be available for educators.

Schools Chancellor David Banks has taken some steps to move schools toward more consistent teaching methods, including instituting a requirement that elementary schools use a phonics program.

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