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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

02.06.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | But advocates worry that if a school were legally required to release information, even with no explicit record of immigration status, there could be revealing information in a student’s file. For instance, some families provide immigration papers when registering children for school, which sometimes get photocopied and put in a student’s file, said Abja Midha, a project director at Advocates for Children. While this item may not say whether a child is undocumented, it could provide a clue as to status since undocumented families often have no other proof of identity, age or residency, she said. She hopes the city will consider removing any unnecessary documentation in student files... “The chancellor’s letter and the policy that’s laid out … are good first steps,” said Midha. “I do think that in the current climate, families really do need to feel reassured that New York City schools are a safe space and a welcoming space for them.” Read article

01.31.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Legal experts have argued Trump’s order is patently unconstitutional, questions loom about how much funding the president can actually withhold, and de Blasio has vowed to fight it. But education advocates said that even marginal funding reductions could harm the city’s most vulnerable students. “The loss of funding would have a devastating impact on schools,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children. “The city relies on federal funding to support students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students from low-income backgrounds.” Read article

01.25.2017 | Politico New York | The funding change leaves the fate of 30 new social workers hired to support schools with particularly high homeless populations unclear, and leaves new attendance teachers and literacy programs in homeless shelters in limbo....“It’s unrealistic to expect these new programs for students in temporary housing to have had a demonstrated impact when the social workers and other staff have just recently been hired. With only one year of funding, these programs have barely had a chance to get off the ground. The city should be increasing supports for students who are homeless, not taking them away.” —Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children Read article

01.18.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Advocates for Children, which helps secure services for students with disabilities and low-income families, expressed concern that DeVos appeared to be confused about how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act works. “It is really troubling for Ms. DeVos to say that enforcement of the rights of students with disabilities should be left to the states,” AFC Executive Director Kim Sweet wrote in an email to Chalkbeat. “Even though she seemed to correct herself when she heard that a federal law guarantees these students their rights, her remarks show an inclination toward minimizing the federal role that could leave students with disabilities very vulnerable.” Read article

01.13.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Though suspensions in that age group have fallen in recent years — down to 801 last school year from nearly 1,500 the year before — the new policy is likely to have a dramatic impact. Officials said that if the proposed discipline code had been in place last year, just 25 students in grades K-2 would have been suspended. “These changes are promising,” wrote Dawn Yuster, the school justice project director at Advocates for Children. “Students, regardless of their age, should not be forced to miss weeks, months, or a year of valuable instruction time.” Read article