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Albany School Board To Rename 'Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy'

Kaweeda Adams
Jesse King
Superintendent Kaweeda Adams discussed plans to rename Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy Friday.

The Albany City School District Board of Education is launching a committee to change the name of Philip J. Schuyler Academy, in light of renewed focus on the major general’s ownership of slaves in the late 1700s.

The School Naming Policy Committee will also evaluate the history behind the names of every other school in the district, and establish a process by summer’s end for making changes where necessary. Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general and later U.S. Senator from New York, owned slaves in Albany in 1790. As protests about racial injustice continue across the country, Board President Anne Savage says confronting history can only move the district forward.  

“No school should honor the memory of a person who was an enslaver," she notes. "This has been a discussion in our district for many years, and now is the time for us to act.”

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced the removal of a Schuyler statue in front of city hall last week. Like other cities in the Capital Region, she also declared Juneteenth — the holiday commemorating the emancipation of the last slaves in the U.S. in 1865 — a city holiday. Superintendent Kaweeda Adams says Friday's announcement wasn't planned to line up with Juneteenth, but it certainly felt poignant. 

"We are here developing a policy which emancipates the naming of our schools and facilities from those who have oppressed as well as enslaved," says Adams. "As we move forward into the 2021 school year, we are furthering the depth of our curriculum to include social justice in our content areas." 

Savage says the school's Community School Site Coordinator, Michael-Aaron Poindexter, has been tapped to lead the committee, which will officially take shape at the board meeting on June 29. Savage says anyone interested in serving should contact the board by June 24. 

The Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy serves about 300 Kindergarten and elementary students in the city's West Hill neighborhood. While it is the only school named after Schuyler right now, the general's name has been attached to various city schools since the opening of Schuyler High School — later Albany High School — in 1934. 

Jesse King is the host of WAMC's national program on women's issues, "51%," and the station's bureau chief in the Hudson Valley. She has also produced episodes of the WAMC podcast "A New York Minute In History."
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