Governor speaks at Watervliet Elementary School, proposes new state reading initiative

Today at Watervliet Elementary School, Governor Kathy Hochul shared her vision for turning the page on how reading is taught in New York classrooms.

Student stands at podium introduces the governor entering through a nearby door Standing at the podium, Nathan Rogers, a fourth-grade student and avid reader, welcomed the Governor to the elementary school library before a standing-room-only crowd of local and state dignitaries, education leaders and partners, students, educators, invited guests and the media.

“I love the library and I love to read,” Nathan said. “Reading helps kids like me learn new words and ideas. I love to read, especially non-fiction books because I like to learn about new and different things. I am excited to be here today and to introduce my new friend Governor Kathy Hochul.”

The Governor thanked Nathan and addressed the other students  seated in the audience before she unveiled her second proposal of the 2024 State of the State, called the ‘Back to Basics’ Plan to Improve Reading Proficiency. The proposal includes legislation to implement evidence-based best practices in schools across New York and provides a $10 million investment that will support training for teachers in “Science of Reading” instruction.

Governor dressed in light blue suit stands at podium and speaks“Reading is the foundation of our education system, but New York State is currently not meeting basic reading proficiency levels,” Governor Hochul said. “We cannot continue to allow our kids to fall further behind by utilizing outdated and discredited approaches to reading comprehension. Our Back to Basics initiative will reset how schools approach reading, returning to scientifically proven techniques. Along with investments in teacher training programs, we are tackling this issue head on to make sure our teachers and kids are set up for success.”

The Governor invited Watervliet fourth-grade teacher Jeanne Lance, a two-time Teacher of the Year award finalist, to speak about the importance of evidence-based instructional practices to teach reading.

Teacher stands at podium and speaks“Literacy is a bridge that connects each of us in so many ways. A systemic approach to reading instruction that enables children to read, write and respond critically opens doors to endless possibilities,” said Mrs. Lance. “The science of reading embraces that. We transitioned to this approach a few years ago, and we are seeing in real time how well our students are responding.”

Prior to her announcement, Gov. Hochul stopped in Samantha Walsh’s third-grade classroom for a visit with students. She shared with them that her favorite book – one she read over and over again – when she was in grade school was the story of Harriet Tubman.

Governor kneels to speak with students seated on a carpet in the classroom“I could not get over how courageous she was,” the Governor said. “I was inspired by what she did to help slaves and bring them to freedom in New York. She changed the world.”

Governor Hochul encouraged the third-graders to continue to grow their love of reading because it is essential for opening doors to opportunities and future success in college and the workplace.