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Micaela is a dual-language learner who is on the autism spectrum and needed an appropriate school placement for kindergarten.

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AFC in the News

12.20.2022 | Public News Service | Juliet Eisenstein, senior staff attorney, Post Readiness Project, Advocates for Children of New York, described some of the options the state could consider for students to have, in lieu of Regents exams. 

"I think the most important thing is that students have access to real world opportunities, opportunities to build up real world skills, whether that be through access to work-based learning experiences, internships that they can get credit for, career and technical education classes, performance-based assessments instead of testing," Eisenstein said.

Eisenstein noted the pandemic has provided insight into how decoupling Regents exams from graduation requirements can benefit students. 

"There's been a lot of changes to graduation requirements during the pandemic, which, in some ways have really complicated the graduation system but also have shown that there are other ways to measure student learning and student mastery of content without high-stakes testing," she said. 

She said new system for graduation can be created after seeing how the pandemic has altered student learning. With revising what determines a student's readiness for graduation, Eisenstein said students will be able to demonstrate what they have learned in different ways. Read article

12.20.2022 | Gothamist | “We have heard from parents whose children are placed in monolingual English classrooms… as well as students placed at schools that do not have needed bilingual staff,” said Diana Aragundi, senior staff attorney at Advocates for Children New York. She said schools also need bilingual special education teachers and social workers. Read article

12.19.2022 | The Washington Post | In recent years, a growing number of experts, advocates and parents have argued that educators are often too quick to blame poor reading outcomes on families, particularly low-income ones, overlooking schools’ complicity in perpetuating unequal access. “Blame for low literacy rates is placed not on the system itself, but on individual students and their families,” said a May report from Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

12.19.2022 | The Hechinger Report | In a May report pushing for stronger reading curricula in New York City schools, as well as an amped-up safety net for those who struggle, leaders of Advocates for Children of New York said that for too long it has been left up to families to ensure their children become literate. “Blame for low literacy rates is placed not on the system itself, but on individual students and their families,” the report stated. Read article

12.16.2022 | BronxNet | On this edition of Today’s Verdict, attorney Juliet Eisenstein, Esq. from Advocates for Children of New York explains to us about eliminating Regents exams from graduation requirements, a practice which currently makes New York State an outlier in the US. Watch video

12.15.2022 | NYC News Service | “It’s a really unjust and inequitable system,” said Maggie Moroff, senior special-education policy coordinator at the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York. “And the more resources the family has, the more likely they are to be able to navigate the system, to understand it, to supplement it, and all of those things.” Read article

12.13.2022 | ABC 7 News | New York City officials announced an expansion of seats for preschool students with special needs across all five boroughs on Tuesday. "Many of these children were sitting at home waiting months or longer, in violation of their legal rights," said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York. 

Mayor Eric Adams said the Department of Education is keeping the current 3,000 seats available and adding 800 more seats by this spring across 65 early childhood providers. 

Officials said previously, the early childhood education system did not have a strategic or intentional focus on serving young kids living with disabilities and their families. Their teachers and educators were also paid less than their general education peers. Watch video

12.13.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | The city has also committed to opening another 400 new seats by sometime this spring.  

“We plan to hold the administration accountable for delivering on that promise,” said Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children, a nonprofit organization that has for years pushed for more such seats, during Tuesday’s press conference. “The city has a legal obligation and a moral obligation to do so.” 

In an interview, Levine noted that under the city’s plan, preschool special education teachers will now be paid as much as a new teacher who works for the education department. 

“But every step helps,” she said. Read article

12.13.2022 I Gothamist | According to Advocates for Children of New York, while the de Blasio administration did provide preschool programming for students with disabilities, it was not enough. Hundreds of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds have been unable to participate in the city’s free pre-K programming because there have not been enough teachers and seats for special education. 

“In recent years, parents of children with disabilities have watched the expansion of pre-K and 3-K and wondered, ‘Why are there no seats for our children?” said the group’s policy director, Randi Levine. “Why are our children’s teachers paid less…Why is the school day length for our children shorter … And why do our children always seem to come last?’” Read article

12.13.2022 | NY Daily News | “We’ve heard from family after family with the same story,” said Randi Levine of Advocates for Children. “Their young child had autism or other complex disabilities and needed a seat in a preschool special-education class, but there was no seats available. Many of these children were sitting at home waiting months or longer in violation of their legal rights.” Read article