BY GRANT VALENTINE
The arrival of the Rockland Academy of Excellence to East Ramapo in Rockland has sparked debate from the community of East Ramapo. They say you can tell the strength of a person by the way they love their children and Rockland loves their children.
We, as a united community, now need to move to a point past charter school vs. community and begin to make sure every student in East Ramapo wakes up in the morning to go to a great school because every child deserves a great education. It is about student achievement and the Rockland Academy of Excellence Charter School will change the culture of education in Rockland for years to come.
The mission of the Rockland Academy of Excellence is “to develop and nurture all students by providing them with the academic, emotional and social skills essential for college and career readiness.” Our mission statement is not just a formula; it provides a foundation and a point of action for the success of our school. It is a living set of principles that allows us to confront difficulties and sets a tone for success.
Here are a few facts for those who are caretakers of the educational status quo: The Rockland Academy of Excellence cherishes public education and we are all entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts. Every door for our children’s education needs to be open.
It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country; if you work hard in school and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from or what you look like. A successful good education should not be determined in Rockland by the place where you had a chance of birth or circumstance nor should a quality education and your destiny because of your language or where you live.
The Rockland Academy of Excellence is a public school and does not charge tuition to its students. Every parent deserves the right to decide how to fund their children’s education with public tax dollars and have choices that best serve their child’s future. The Academy serves all children, not just those who learn the best in traditional classrooms.
The Academy will include students whose parents are looking for a safe learning environment, bi-lingual and tri-lingual households, special needs children, children needing family support and children with disabilities. The Rockland Academy of Excellence will provide a real choice of education for low-income families and families afflicted by poverty.
The Academy will hold lotteries if more students apply than there are seats and will conduct the lottery at one of the local community-based organizations or churches. The academy is not a union-busting entity; the academy will explore unionization for teachers if they desire it. There are claims that the Rockland Academy of Excellence will siphon off money from an already depressed budget in East Ramapo. The fact is that the Rockland Academy of Excellence will be saving the district money on capital impact as outlined in the application.
The Rockland Academy of Excellence is not just different from regular public schools but is the first charter school in the Hudson Valley to use evidence base practices and a rigorous core curriculum to raise student achievement. It will stress a personalized approach to education, including smaller class size, more individual attention and strong parental involvement.
Positive results for students will come from changes in knowledge, skill and behavior of teachers, students and parents. The Rockland Academy will have extended and creative schedules and use test data as diagnostic tools to spot student weaknesses. Teachers will be hired based on subject-matter knowledge, rigorous evaluation, research-based teaching methods and first among our teachers, they must have a belief that all children can learn at a high level.
Success will be defined in student achievement and wrap around holistic services. The Academy will provide opportunities utilizing social capital, family support, incentives, and expectations for the adult family members close to the lives of the students of the Academy to make wise decisions on the behalf of the students.
Stronger families + stronger communities = A stronger school: The Rockland Academy of Excellence
Learn more: http://rocklandacademycharterschool.com/