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Thoughts for the new school year

09.07.2016 | At Advocates for Children of New York, we are gearing up for the first day of school, a moment that invites us to reflect on what we do and how we want to impact the world around us. Each new school year brings new demands but also new opportunities to use our resources and expertise to improve the lives of children in New York City and across New York State. 

This summer started with a June and July that highlighted some of the terrible problems facing our society. Forty-nine people were murdered at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Communities across the country erupted in protest as two more videos showed men of color -- Alton Sterling and Philando Castile -- being killed in police shootings. And anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric continued to dominate the national political stage. 

For many of the young people we serve, gun violence, police brutality, racism, and prejudice are ever-present concerns. They have to navigate this treacherous terrain as they grow up and go to school; despite all that is going on around them, they have to feel safe enough to be able to learn and optimistic enough about their future to be motivated to try. When they encounter roadblocks to an appropriate education, it is critically important that they and their families have somewhere to turn for assistance. As an organization dedicated for 45 years to eradicating barriers to education based on factors like poverty, race, disability, and national origin, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to provide young people with the support they need to meet the challenges of their current environment and emerge with the education they need to live full and productive lives. 

As we prepare for the start of a new school year, we re-affirm our commitment to advocate for the children who most need our help to succeed in school -- the children whom the school system does not serve well for a variety of reasons, ranging from overt prejudice to implicit bias, from under-funded programs to inadequately trained staff. In the coming year, we will be expanding our advocacy for students who are LGBTQ and students who experience bullying. We will strengthen our partnerships with organizations serving NYC's diverse immigrant communities, including families that speak Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese. And we will continue our work to stop the school-to-prison pipeline by, for example, fighting for access to early childhood education, demanding appropriate support and services for students with disabilities, and advocating for students involved with the court system to get their education back on track. 

Thank you for your partnership and support as we work together towards a brighter future for New York's children. We're looking forward to a great year! 

Sincerely,
kim signature
Kim Sweet
Executive Director