Friday, December 24, 2010

Ross Global Charter: In Battle Over NYC Charter School, It's Heiress vs. Parents

by Megan CottrellDecember 24, 2010 
Mona Davids, president of the New York Charter Parents Association, loves charter schools. She does not, however, love Ross Global Academy, a New York city charter school with a horrible record of serving students.
"Out of the 1,470 schools in New York city, this school is 1470. it is officially the worst school in the city," says Davids.
The New York City Department of Education agrees. They've recommended that Ross Global Academy's charter not be renewed for another five years. But the rich widow who started the school is using her big money to try to stop that from happening. She's hired a legal team and has been lobbying the Board of Regents to give her another chance. Davids, and other parent advocates, are saying: Not so fast.
Ross Global Academy was started in 2005 by Courtney Ross, widow of Steve Ross, who used to run Time Warner. She started an exclusive private school in the Hamptons - the Ross Institute for Advanced Study and Innovation in Education - and wanted to bring some of that success to New York's poorest kids by opening a charter school.
But it hasn't worked. Teacher turnover is at over 77 percent, says Davids. Students are leaving the school in droves - 90 out of 400 students left the school within the first three months of the year. Davids says a parent she knows has a child in the school - that child has had six homeroom teachers this year alone.
"The students are fleeing. The teachers are fleeing," says Davids. "They're on their seventh principal in 5 years."
It's no secret that the school is bad. But that hasn't stopped creator Courtney Ross from fighting its closure.
"She's hired a law firm in Albany to represent her, and also hired a litigation firm in the city.  About a week ago, she and the board of trustees met with Chancellor Klein to tell them not to shut down the school," says Davids.
But the parents in New York Charter Parents Association are saying enough, and demanding that the New York Board of Regents to shut down the school, despite Ross' high priced lobbying to keep it open. They  created a petition on to let the Regents and the Charter school office know that these kids need better educational opportunities.
"If this charter is to remain open, if [Ross] is able to bully the education department, this will destroy the premise of charters - that students deserve the best educational choices," says Davids.
When scarce resources go to funding and space for a poorly-performing school, it not only hurts the kids in that school, but it hurts the entire New York City school system by sapping money that could be used to better educate children. If the city wants to continually shut down poor-performing regular public schools, than they should do the same with lousy charters.
If it's all about results, than the results should be the only thing that matter - not how much money or power a school's founder has. Stand with Davids and tell the New York Board of Regents to revoke the charter for Ross Global Academy.

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