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Paige, a bright third grade student on the autism spectrum, sat at home for nearly two months waiting for a school placement that would meet her needs. 

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03.24.2014 | Today, AFC will testify before the City Council General Welfare Committee about the importance of providing adequate funding for high-quality early childhood education programs for young children from low-income backgrounds. View testimony

03.13.2014 | On March 12, AFC's Junior Board and NYU Law School's Education Law and Policy Society held a panel on deconstructing the school-to-prison pipeline to keep kids in NYC schools. The panel was moderated by AFC Skadden Fellow Nick Sheehan. More than 110 attendees learned about several models for positive discipline and heard NYC student Kevin Rivera give a moving account of his personal experience with suspension and restorative justice. View photos from the panel on our facebook page.

Click to view a larger version of the invite.
panel invitation

03.11.2014 | We’re excited to announce the release of Advocates for Children’s first organizational Policy Agenda! Based on our on-the-ground experience helping thousands of families each year navigate the New York City public school system, we identify systemic problems and advocate for policy change to improve educational programs, opportunities, and outcomes for all students.

Our Policy Agenda includes specific proposals regarding:

  • The school-to-prison pipeline and positive approaches to discipline; 
  • Students with disabilities; 
  • English Language Learners and language access; 
  • School stability for students in temporary housing or foster care; 
  • Access to high-quality early childhood education programs; 
  • Multiple pathways to high school graduation; and 
  • Protection from discrimination for students in traditional public schools and charter schools.

Learn more about our policy priorities or download a copy of the complete Agenda.

03.10.2014 | In the heated battles over co-locations, there are rarely perfect solutions. Displacing some students to make room for others creates a winners-vs-losers scenario that can be disruptive to any educational community. Students with disabilities, unfortunately, have often found themselves on the losing side of co-location proposals for years, with a number of the Department of Education's co-location plans displacing seats in District 75 programs for students with significant special education needs or eliminating classroom space used for occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other services that can be critical to educational progress. Read AFC's statement

02.11.2014 | Today AFC will be testifying before the New York City Council Committee on Education and Committee on Women’s Issues in support of New York City’s plan to create a new funding stream to pay for a rapid expansion of Universal Pre-K. If we are serious about improving our schools, we must give every four-year-old child the opportunity to attend a high-quality, full-day prekindergarten program. And we must do it now. After all, children have only one chance to go to preschool. In implementing this plan, we look forward to working with the City Council and administration to make sure that this program serves all preschoolers, including preschoolers with developmental delays or disabilities, English Language Learners, and preschoolers living in temporary housing or foster care, so that the children who need this program most can benefit from it. View testimony

01.28.2014 | Today Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, submitted testimony for the New York State Education Budget Hearing. In her testimony, Kim Sweet applauds the Governor’s call to make pre-kindergarten truly universal, but points out that the funding in the budget proposal is insufficient to reach this goal. As a result, she calls on the Legislature to support Mayor de Blasio’s plan to expand pre-kindergarten rapidly in New York City. “Children have only one opportunity to go to preschool,” she states. “With the harder Common Core standards and higher expectations for children at every grade level, we cannot afford to wait any longer.” She also makes recommendations regarding the Governor’s preschool special education reform, special education waiver, after-school, and anti-discrimination proposals. View the full testimony

01.27.2014 | AFC submitted comments to the New York State Education Department regarding proposed amendments to the State's Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver. AFC commented on amendments addressing testing for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.

12.12.2013 | A new report, Rethinking Pathways to High School Graduation in New York State: Forging New Ways for Students to Show Their Achievement of Standards, was released today by The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, prepared by Advocates for Children of New York. The report examines the difficulties that high stakes standardized exit exams pose for many students and addresses the need for more flexible exam requirements and assessment-based pathways to a diploma.

The report outlines several recommendations for the State to improve access to a high school diploma while maintaining high standards that ensure college or career readiness. Our recommendations, described in detail in the report, are as follows:

  • Reduce the Number of Exit Exams Required to Graduate with a Regents Diploma from 5 to 3. 
  • Develop a Pathway to Graduation That Allows All Students to Demonstrate Their Knowledge and Skills through State-Developed and/or Approved Performance-Based Assessments. 
  • Build More Flexibility and Support into the Current System to Make it More Accessible to Students.
  • Ensure Transparency in Communications and Monitoring of all Aspects of the Multiple Pathways System. 


“We strongly support high standards of student achievement. However, we believe that the State’s focus on high stakes standardized exit exams creates unnecessary barriers to graduation for many students. As demonstrated nationwide, states requiring exit exams have lower 4-year graduation rates than those that do not,” states Abja Midha, Project Director for Advocates for Children of New York.

Statewide, about 48,000 students in each entering 9th grade class are at risk of not graduating. In NYS, over 25% of high school students fail to graduate within four years. For students of color, English language learners (ELLs), students with disabilities, and students who are economically disadvantaged, this percentage is even higher.

The report’s recommendations do not seek to dilute standards or remove rigor from the high school experience. Introducing additional flexibility to the high school assessment structure simply recognizes that students may better demonstrate their knowledge outside of a standardized exam setting. To read entire report, click here.

12.09.2013 | While all students, with and without special education needs, may apply to any NYC public school, there are some things students with special needs and their families should be aware of regarding the processes of applying to middle schools in choice districts and high schools around the city. This new fact sheet offers pointers to help families through the process. View fact sheet