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Heading back to school: A message from AFC's Executive Director

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