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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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09.06.2017 |  Tomorrow starts a new school year for most of the 1.1 million students in New York City's public schools. Students will take buses, cars, trains, and ferries to over 1,700 schools scattered throughout the five boroughs. They'll come from homes that speak more than 100 different languages, practice a wide variety of religions, and span the entire spectrum from extreme poverty to enormous wealth. Though their families may have little in common, they will all participate in this annual ritual — a ritual that unites our city, perhaps as much as anything else.

No matter where we're from, how we worship, or what else we believe, families all share a commitment to our children and to education as essential to preparing them to live full and productive lives. We have a collective faith in education's power to transform — not just individual children, but society itself. If we are ever going to overcome the powerful plagues of poverty, racism, and injustice, we know that education is our best hope. As Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." 

That is why it is so crucial that ALL children have the opportunity for an excellent education, and why Advocates for Children of New York is 100% committed to toppling barriers that stand in their way. During the school year that starts tomorrow, we will advocate for families in more than 7,000 cases, ranging from a student with a disability who is reading three years behind grade level because she didn't get the special education services she needs, to a parent who cannot communicate with her child's teacher because she can't get an interpreter, to a student who is being excluded from school because he was denied necessary mental health support. We will provide hundreds of "know your rights" workshops in Head Start centers, shelters, schools, and community-based organizations throughout the city's diverse neighborhoods. And we will fight for policies to ensure access to quality education for students who are often forgotten, including students who are homeless, undocumented, in foster care, or court-involved. 

As we embark upon another school year, we are proud to partner with you and so many others in service of New York City's families. Together, we can work towards a better world for each and every child. 

Sincerely,
Kim Sweet signature
Kim Sweet
Executive Director

08.24.2017 | The first day of school is Thursday, September 7! In preparation, we've updated our back-to-school fact sheet for families of students with disabilities, which covers concerns that typically come up at this time of year, such as what to do if a child does not yet have a school assignment or the school assigned says they cannot serve the child’s needs. View the fact sheet in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF]. 

If you have additional questions or need assistance, please call AFC’s Education Helpline: (866) 427-6033, Monday—Thursday, 10am—4pm.

08.24.2017 |  AFC submitted comments on SUNY’s proposed regulations regarding charter school teacher certification. While we believe there is important work to be done across the State to strengthen teacher certification pathways, address shortages of qualified teachers in certain areas, and ensure there is an excellent teacher in every classroom, we are concerned that the proposed regulations would run counter to these goals and would violate state law. View comments [PDF]

08.22.2017 | In response to the release of the third through eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) and Math test scores, Kim Sweet, Executive Director, issued the following statement:

“While we are pleased to see the test scores move in the right direction for New York City students overall, we are concerned about the persistent gaps that exist for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.  Teaching students to read is one of the most fundamental tasks of schools.  With only 5.6% of English Language Learners and 10.7% of students with disabilities scoring proficiently in reading, the City must do more to support these students and ensure that they receive high-quality, evidence-based instruction that targets their individual needs.”

View statement as a PDF

cover of guide07.27.2017 | AFC has a new guide on the rights of students with disabilities facing discipline! Students with disabilities have special rights and protections when they are suspended from school or removed from class, and one of those rights is a meeting called a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR). This comprehensive guide explains what happens at an MDR, how to prepare for the meeting, what happens afterwards, and what parents can do if they disagree with the school’s decision.  

Read the English guide [PDF]
Read the Spanish Guide [PDF]





page 1 of data brief07.24.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) released a data brief analyzing city and state data showing that English Language Learners (ELLs) are under-represented in career and technical education (CTE) programs at New York City high schools. Entitled Missed Potential: English Language Learners Under-Represented in NYC Career and Technical Education Programs, the brief examines ELL enrollment at schools that offer CTE, as well as their participation and completion rates in the CTE programs at those schools.

The paper offers a list of recommended steps the New York City Department of Education can take to begin to address barriers for ELLs, including resolving recruitment and enrollment issues, offering extra training for CTE instructors in serving ELLs, and providing classroom supports in CTE schools—such as bilingual CTE classes and translation and interpretation services. 

Read the data brief [PDF]
Read the press release [PDF]

06.19.2017 | Today, AFC sent a letter to the New York State Assembly and Senate, urging them to approve a long-term extension of mayoral control as a stand-alone bill that is not tied to other changes in education policy. View our letter [PDF]

guide cover06.16.2017 | AFC has a new guide for court-involved youth and their families! The guide (available in English and Spanish) includes a basic overview of the education rights of young people ages 7 to 21 in New York City who are or were involved in the juvenile or criminal justice system. It includes information about the education rights of youth in community and court-ordered settings (such as juvenile detention, juvenile placement, or Rikers Island). It also has information to help students transition back to school and find a school that meets the student’s needs. 

Read the English guide [PDF]
Read the Spanish guide [PDF]

05.25.2017 | Today AFC is testifying before the New York City Council about the Fiscal Year 2018 city budget proposal. We urge the Administration and City Council to increase funding for DOE social workers for students living in homeless shelters, Restorative Practices and other alternatives to school suspensions, and school accessibility. View testimony [PDF]

05.17.2017 | As the families of more than 190,000 immigrant students across New York State wrestle with the current climate of fear and uncertainty, a new report finds major inconsistencies in how New York’s school districts are responding and the extent to which they are rising to the challenge of protecting and supporting the immigrant students and families they are charged to serve.  

The report, Safe Havens: Protecting and Supporting New York State’s Immigrant Students  [PDF] — released today by The Education Trust–New York, Advocates for Children of New York, the New York Immigration Coalition and The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. — finds that while the New York State Education Department (SED) and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as several individual school districts, have taken a number of important steps, there is much more to do. 

Based on a review of documents from the 25 school districts that together enroll 80 percent of the state’s immigrant students, Safe Havens spotlights positive practices and troubling trends and highlights four critical areas where change is needed:

  • Welcoming all students regardless of immigration status or national origin. 
  • Collection and handling of personal information. 
  • Responding to federal immigration officials. 
  • Supporting students and families when a parent, family member, or guardian is at risk of deportation or has been deported. 

Drawing on the experiences of immigrant community-based organizations, advocates, and service providers, the report includes a set of recommendations for stronger supports at the state, school district and school levels. The report’s recommendations include that SED: assist school districts to provide greater support for immigrant students to ensure their long-term success; reiterate that questions about national origin should not be asked during the student registration process; encourage school districts to adopt — and in some cases, strengthen — their protocols for how to respond to any request for access by ICE; and reinforce the importance of providing social-emotional support. 

“The recommendations in Safe Havens provide a clear roadmap for steps that New York State and district leaders should take to ensure that immigrant students and their families feel safe and supported by public schools,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “We appreciate New York State’s and New York City’s efforts to date and believe that the recommendations in the report will assist school districts across New York in meeting the ongoing concerns of immigrant families.”

Read the report [PDF]