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AFC in the News

01.19.2023 | Education Week | New York City alone will have to find hundreds of millions of dollars from elsewhere to keep ESSER-funded programs like literacy screenings, mental health services, and expanded pre-K options, according to a report from the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

01.12.2023 | Gothamist | “This crisis underscores the need for recruiting, training and retaining bilingual staff and opening more bilingual programs in schools serving a significant number of English language learners and newly arrived immigrant children,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of immigrant students’ rights at Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

01.12.2023 | Gothamist | Advocates said they were glad to see that the financial plan did not include the enrollment-based cuts, but many worried about the scaled back of ambitions around 3K and other initiatives. 

“We are relieved that the city is not moving forward with certain planned cuts to school budgets next year at a time when students still need intensive academic and social-emotional support,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York. “However, we are deeply concerned that the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget does not extend funding for a number of initiatives that provide critical support to students and families.” 

The group said the proposed budget appears not to continue funding for a handful of programs that support student mental health, homeless students and undocumented children. Read article

01.04.2023 | Chalkbeat NY | The Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, a group that has pushed for changes to graduation requirements for more than a decade, compiled a 1,200-signature petition last month calling for the state to immediately remove Regents exams from diploma requirements. The coalition pointed to research about the negative effects of the exit exams. 

“While the Commission’s work moves forward, the State should take action now to ensure that students who have passed all their courses are able to graduate from high school and pursue their postsecondary goals,” Juliet Eisenstein, senior staff attorney for Advocates for Children, which is part of the coalition, said in a statement. Read article

12.22.2022 | Amsterdam News | The timing of the Promise NYC childcare program will certainly help newly arrived asylum seekers find stable housing and employment, but it’s been a long awaited change for many. 

“Before this announcement, children who were undocumented did not have access to childcare, meaning they were shut out of some of the city’s childhood education programs,” said Policy Director for Advocates for Children of New York Randi Levine. “It predates this influx of asylum seekers.” 

Undocumented children and others were ineligible for existing programs due to restrictive federal immigration rules, namely the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, said Levine. Read article

12.22.2022 | Amsterdam News | Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York, said that based on the data, Black students disproportionately rank in high numbers in “school aged” special education classes compared to other races while simultaneously missing out on critical access to early intervention and preschool special education when needed.

“In preschool there’s a different situation relative to overall enrollment, children of color are underrepresented among preschoolers receiving special education services while white children are overrepresented,” said Levine.

Levine said there certainly is a “worry” that Black and brown children that aren’t in early special education will need more intensive services later on in school, but there isn’t an official casualty as to why the inverse happens in preschool. 

In a report conducted by Advocates for Children, researchers found that in the 2019-20 school year, 1,222 students were waiting for a preschool special education seat in a classroom, the shortage of seats being especially acute in the Bronx and southern Queens. Read article

12.22.2022 | WRCR | Student advocates in New York are asking state education officials for alternate pathways to graduation. The group “Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma” has a petition signed by 12-hundred New Yorkers urging state leaders to separate Regents exams from graduation requirements. A recent study from the Comprehensive Care Network for the State Department of Education and the Board of Regents examined multiple pathways to student graduation and found that exit exams don’t always lead to the best outcomes. Juliet Eisenstein is with the nonprofit “Advocates for Children of New York,” and she says the state should consider some other options for students instead.

Should the state commit to any of these alternatives, Eisenstein says she wants to ensure students have access to the resources for these paths to graduation. She is confident a new system for graduation can be created after seeing how the pandemic has changed student learning. Listen to audio

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