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03.21.2017 | WNYC | The group Advocates for Children of New York said the city is taking the right steps, but urged it to go even farther by barring federal immigration officials from school property entirely, if they don't have a warrant. The group also said decisions about whether agents can enter schools should be made by superintendents, not principals. Read article

03.13.2017 | Politico New York | Now, as city officials start preparing for the executive budget, advocates are pushing the mayor to restore and increase funding for homeless students. “With record numbers of students living in shelter, now is the time for the city to increase its investment in support for students living in shelter, and certainly not the time to cut funding,” the leaders of Advocates for Children, an advocacy group often allied with de Blasio, wrote in a letter to the mayor last week, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO New York. Kim Sweet and Randi Levine, the group's executive director and policy director, respectively, called on de Blasio to baseline the $10.3 million for guidance counselors and add another $7.3 million to the executive budget to fund a total of 100 counselors for schools with high homeless populations. Read article

02.28.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, said the legislation should be expanded to track where students with accessibility needs apply and are accepted to schools. She cited a Department of Justice finding that 83 percent of city elementary schools are not fully accessible to students with mobility limitations. The city is already working to provide more information about accessibility at high schools, where only 13 percent of buildings are fully accessible. “It is vital that you ensure there are accessible school options across the city for students, teachers and family members with mobility, hearing and vision needs,” she said in a prepared statement. Read article

02.27.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | The programs are in keeping with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for less punitive approaches to school discipline, including “restorative” justice, and a plan to significantly reduce suspensions for the city’s youngest students. But some advocates said the new measures are too incremental and unlikely to make a significant dent in the number of students — disproportionately black or Hispanic — who are slapped with criminal offenses at school. “What the city is proposing to do is really minimal,” said Dawn Yuster, a student justice expert at Advocates for Children. She pointed out that school safety agents — who are posted in schools but employed by the NYPD — still have discretion to issue criminal summonses for what amount to schoolyard fights or minor drug violations, even in schools with the warning card program. Even doubling the number of schools covered by the policy would only cover a fraction of the city’s high school students, Yuster added. “If they wanted to make a big change, there’s no reason why they couldn’t expand the program to all schools.” Read article

02.24.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | According to 2016 data, the most recent available, just 13 percent of district and charter schools that serve high school grades are fully accessible. About 62 percent are partially accessible, and 25 percent are considered inaccessible. Making accessibility data public could help change those numbers, said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children who has pushed for greater transparency and praised the initiative. “Once it’s out there, there’s so much more self-advocacy a parent can do,” Moroff said. “Then they can make requests about specific accommodations.”

Greater transparency is just one step in the process. Moroff hopes the city will consider taking students’ physical disabilities into account during the admissions process so that academically qualified students get preference for accessible schools. Once students arrive, she added, they must be welcomed by the school community. “There needs to be much more work to hold the schools accountable to actually welcoming those students,” Moroff said. “It has to go hand in hand with making renovations and making accommodations.” Read article

02.23.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | A student’s high school placement is directly connected to whether or not they will graduate on time, advocates said. When newly arrived immigrants enter the country, they have to move quickly to pass the state’s required exit exams in time for graduation — and they need all the support they can get, advocates said. Twenty-seven percent of English learners in New York City drop out before graduating, according to state data. “If a student is not set up in the right placement from the start, the likelihood of being able to stay engaged, be on track for graduation and not drop out, all of that will be impacted,” said Abja Midha, a project director at Advocates for Children. “We really think the high school enrollment piece is a really critical point.” Read article

02.20.2017 | NBC New York | In New York City, there has also been an intense focus on prevention with the hiring of more guidance counselors, funding of preventive resources and a closer partnership with the NYPD, which polices schools...“The city is on a trajectory generally of decreasing suspensions, arrests, summons or tickets to youth in school,” said Dawn Yuster, project director at Advocates for Children. She also cites restorative justice programs that teach peer mediation has being helpful. “There is a lot of data and evidence out there that shows that it has an impact,” she said. Read article 

02.13.2017 | NY1 | The Chancellor was impressed, and so was an advocate who often criticizes the city for not adequately serving students with special needs. "We worry that they aren't getting access to the curriculum and to all of the academic content but they clearly are based on all of the projects that I've seen today," said Maggie Moroff, with Advocates for Children of New York. View article

02.10.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates are not having the city’s argument. Current English Language Learners already graduate in such small percentages that any backslide is concerning, said Abja Midha, a project director at Advocates for Children. About 31 percent of the city’s ELL students graduated in 2016. “The fact that the graduation rate is going down, it’s an alarming trend,” Midha said. It’s tough for an ELL student to graduate, since students must pass an English Regents exam. But Midha said it is more than possible, since there is a safety-net provision that allows ELL students to pass the English Regents with a lower grade and have their other Regents exams translated. Read article

02.10.2017 | Politico New York | But advocates still said they were alarmed by the combination of the lower graduation rate and higher drop-out rate. “While we very much appreciate recent statements by state and city leaders indicating that immigrant students and ELLs are welcome in New York’s classrooms, they need to do a better job at both levels of government of providing for equitable access to instruction and services that will set these students up for academic success,” Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, said in a statement. Read article