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Teacher and Preacher

The National Urban League hopes to raise its profile and exert more influence over battles to improve urban education.

Ronald O. Ross, the outspoken former superintendent of the Mount Vernon, N.Y., schools, will give an academic voice to the organization's achievement charge as the Urban League's first Israel Tribble Jr. senior fellow in urban education reform. ("Unsettling Scores," April 10, 2002.)

Ronald O. Ross

Mr. Ross led his district to some of the greatest elementary school test-score gains in the state during his four-year tenure. Known for his impassioned, "no holds barred" leadership style, Mr. Ross can give the Urban League a "real voice of authority," said Hugh B. Price, the president and chief executive officer of the New York City-based organization.

"We're going to have [Mr. Ross] out there teaching and preaching about what you have to do to really raise achievement," Mr. Price said.

The Urban League will rely on Mr. Ross to address policymakers, politicians, and business people about what roles they can play and what resources they need to help turn around urban schools, he added.

Mr. Ross, who started his position Aug. 1 after four years in Mount Vernon, said education is a natural fit for the Urban League because education and economic empowerment go hand in hand. Because he believes that the real crisis in education can be found in the nation's cities, Mr. Ross said his own experience, which includes a stint as a New York City public school principal, can show doubters that "public education can and does work."

"I know for a fact that minority children living in urban areas can achieve," he said.

The addition of the senior-fellow position at the Urban League builds on education initiatives the league already has under way. The National Achievers Society, an honor society for African-American students, has inducted roughly 23,000 students and continues to grow. The Urban League, in partnership with other organizations and Scholastic Inc., is promoting to African-American parents the importance of making sure their children learn to read.

The fellowship recognizes Mr. Tribble, who helped create the McKnight Achievers Society, a community-based program that recognized and encouraged academic achievement among black students in Florida.

—Karla Scoon Reid [email protected]

Vol. 21, Issue 43, Page 17

Published in Print: August 7, 2002, as Urban Education

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