New York City's public schools reverse their ban on ChatGPT — admitting it had been 'knee-jerk fear'

  • New York City public schools are lifting the ban they placed on ChatGPT in January.

  • David Banks, chancellor of the NYC public school system, said the tool caught NYC schools off-guard.

  • Banks said he's committed to supporting educators and students as they learn about the technology.

The New York City public school system is reversing its ban on ChatGPT.

The NYC Department of Education initially banned the AI bot back in January — less than two months after the tool was released — citing its potential for "negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content," Insider previously reported.

Several other school districts across the country placed restrictions on ChatGPT earlier this year, too, including Baltimore County Public Schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and Seattle Public Schools.

Now, the NYC school system is saying it's ready to embrace AI in the classroom.

In an op-ed published on Thursday on education news site Chalkbeat, David Banks, the head of New York's public schools, admitted that the bot was banned, in part, out of "knee-jerk fear."

Banks, who's chancellor of the city's Department of Education, contended that the initial response was still "justified" as it allowed the school system time to understand how the tool could enhance education. Banks noted that his team conducted discussions with tech industry leaders and citywide educators as part of this learning process.

"New York City Public Schools will encourage and support our educators and students as they learn about and explore this game-changing technology while also creating a repository and community to share their findings across our schools," Banks wrote.

He added that educators will be provided with a toolkit of resources as they begin discussions and lessons about AI in the classroom. They will also be given "real-life examples" of how AI has been successfully implemented into schools to facilitate administrative tasks, communication, and teaching.

"Our nation is potentially on the brink of a significant societal shift driven by generative artificial intelligence," Banks wrote. "We will also ensure our students are supported by AI's opportunities and prepared for the jobs of today and the future."

The NYC Department of Education did not immediately respond to Insider's request for a comment.

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