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Ross Global Academy’s Fight for Life

Exterior of Ross Global Academy Charter SchoolM.J. GonzalezRoss Global Academy Charter School on 11th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.

In 2009, teachers at the Ross Global Academy Charter School hung a blue banner across the main entrance that read, “We must become the change we want to see.” These days, the words on the banner are regarded by the school’s staff, parents, and students as more than an aspirational motto. In December, the Department of Education announced that the five-year-old school on East 11th Street near First Avenue will close at the end of the academic year. But some of the people involved with the school said that they are determined to convince the department to keep the school open.

They may have serious hurdles to overcome. When the academy was founded in 2006, it was given a five-year charter outlining academic, organizational and financial goals. Each year, the Department of Education performs a citywide evaluation to ensure that such goals are being met. This past year, the Ross Global Academy was ranked as the lowest performing charter school in the city.

Richard Burke, the executive director of a specialized enrichment and tutoring program at the school, said that the faculty is exploring every option they can think of to keep the school functioning.

“We’re doing everything possible to keep the school open,” he said. “Everything from a city to state level and a legal angle.”

While there are many at the school who share Mr. Burke’s goal, some of them said that they can’t help feeling worried about the future.

“We are dismayed,” said Stephanie Wilson, a member of the school’s Parent Teacher Association and Board of Trustees. “We’ve gone through the shock, and are now really sad and anxious.”

One of the things that Mrs. Wilson is most worried about, she said, is the possibility that the school’s successes will be overlooked. She said that the academy has had a positive effect on her two children.

Her 15-year-old son, Demetrius, graduated from R.G.A. in 2009 after completing eighth-grade, and was accepted into Brooklyn Technological High School, a highly competitive and academically rigorous specialized science high school in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

And Mrs. Wilson’s younger son, Elijah, 7, began at R.G.A. two years ago as a kindergartener. Read more…

At Girls Prep, A Study In Excellence

At Girls Prep, A Study In Excellence from The Local East Village on Vimeo.

The uniformed students of Girls Prep Lower East Side Elementary walk quietly in single file through neon orange hallways, under banners with slogans for the school’s four “core values”: sisterhood, scholarship, merit and responsibility. Since opening in 2005 as the first all-girls charter school in the city, it has been part of an ongoing experiment to boost performance in public schools. And for years now, students there have been quietly defying conventional wisdom about the link between income and academic performance.

At Girls Prep, where 98 percent of students are minority and almost three-quarters come from families with such low incomes that they qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, test scores have exceeded the state median the past few years – one of only a handful of schools in the East Village to do so.

NYU Journalism’s Andre Tartar reports.