Education commissioner visits Giffen to talk receivership

Education commissioner visits Giffen to talk receivership

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa, Ed.D., visited Giffen Memorial Elementary School on Wednesday morning to hear from teachers and City School District of Albany leaders about the need for the state to revise its receivership law to offer more support to schools.

Dr. Rosa spent about an hour talking with Giffen teachers before the start of the school day, and then also met with district leaders and NYSUT President Melinda Person for another 30 minutes to understand how the state’s current punitive receivership measures hurt school-improvement efforts.

The commissioner heard from Person, Board of Education President Vickie Smith, Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Instruction Ken Cioffi, Giffen Principal Jasmine Brown and the presidents of the district’s administrators and teachers unions, Michele Bridgewater and Laura Franz, respectively.

Person also held similar meetings at Giffen in September. 

Giffen currently is the one district school operating under receivership in the state’s school accountability system due to test scores that have not met state standards. 

The board and district agree that receivership is fundamentally grounded in sound principles aimed at raising the knowledge, skill and opportunity of every student. However, we also believe the law goes too far with measures that perpetuate deeply held perceptions about low-performing schools and the communities they serve. 

The harsh consequences and limited financial support embedded in the current receivership law make it difficult for schools and school districts to sustain meaningful change, and to attract and retain the high-quality, highly effective leaders and teachers needed for consistent student success. 

Advocating for more supportive tenets in an updated receivership law is among the district’s legislative priorities for the coming year. The board also put forward a resolution with the New York State School Boards Association last summer recommending the same changes.