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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

12.05.2022 | NY Daily News | “The evidence shows that these high-stakes exams are not correlated to success. They more so serve as a barrier,” said Juliet Eisenstein, a staff attorney at Advocates for Children, which spearheaded the petition. 

Eisenstein is on a 64-member state commission tasked in September with reviewing the state’s graduation measures that will meet again on Tuesday. The state, which had been considering updates to its graduation policy before the pandemic, held off making any permanent changes while the virus interrupted in-person meetings. 

One study of 11,000 school districts over a decade, cited by Advocates for Children, found that dropout rates for 12th graders increased by 23 percent in states that required students to pass exit exams, without offering other ways to get a diploma. 

“There might be a student with disabilities who’s in classes able to demonstrate their learning,” said Eisenstein. “Even though they’re passing every one of their classes, because they can’t pass the high-stakes exam, that could be the difference between them receiving their diploma or being able to attend college.” Read article

12.05.2022 | FOX 5 New York | It's a huge problem, a problem Jennifer Pringle says needs urgent attention if the City wants to break the cycle of homelessness. "We know that kids who don't graduate from high school are 3.5 times more at risk of experiencing homelessness as young adults." 

Pringle is with Advocates for Children of New York. Their report says 64% of students living in sheters were chonically absent from school last year, meaning they missed more than 10% of the school year. One of the primary reasons the students are missing school is long commutes.

"40 percent of kids in shelter are places in a shelter far away from their schools, in a different borough from where their school is," says Pringle. Watch video

12.01.2022 | Brooklyn Paper | “We are pleased to see the Chancellor focusing attention on special education and taking the opportunity to hear and learn directly from those with experience in the system – former students, parents, advocates, educators, and other experts,” said Maggie Moroff, senior special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York. “We look forward to being a part of this work and to moving the system forward to improve the daily experiences and long-term outcomes for all our students with disabilities and their families here in NYC.” Read article

12.01.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | Still, some advocates and newly appointed council members say they’re looking forward to having an official voice in the education department’s planning for the future of special education. 

Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children and a member of the new council, said she was “really excited that there were going to be parents involved in this in a real way.” 

“We’ll see how it rolls out,” she added. “I’m hoping that the council can guide the direction that the council takes, rather than the DOE guiding us.” Read article

12.01.2022| NY Daily News | “If the city can achieve what it’s laying out today, and continue building on that, it’s going to be such a better world for our students with disabilities and their families,” said Maggie Moroff, senior special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, who will sit on the new council. Read article

11.28.2022 | Documented | Nicole Wallach, a staff attorney with the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children, says that one school her organization spoke with has over 80 recently arrived migrant students. 

“Their needs are not purely academic,” Wallach said. “They need more than just school, a classroom to go to….And they require a lot more support, they’re brand new to the City. They need knowledge and comfort and tools to know how to advocate and understand how to thrive and function in the New York City school system.” Read article

11.28.2022 | Columbia News Service | Dawn Yuster, Director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), said that District 75 parents have reason to be suspicious, particularly when it comes to paraprofessionals in the classroom. 

“Every year, there are legal cases where paraprofessionals are just not adequately trained. To some extent, they are set up to fail,” she says. 

Concerns regarding District 75 schools’ handling of student crises extend past their paraprofessionals. In June 2021, Yuster’s team produced a report detailing methods of discipline and crisis intervention taking place on District 75 campuses. They found that oftentimes, these instances resulted in police calls at rates disproportionately higher than the rest of the city. 

Such calls are most often the product of “child in crisis interventions,” moments when a student exhibits distress sufficient to warrant police involvement. Interventions can take place in any New York City school, however the AFC report states that “Students in District 75 are not only dramatically over-represented in these incidents; they are also more likely than their peers to be handcuffed when removed from school.”  Read article

11.25.2022 | Gothamist | “To me this literacy advisory council is critical because it brings together expertise and diverse points of view [to] sustain support for the initiative going forward,” said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children New York and a member of the council. “To bring everyone together and get them rowing in the same direction is a massive undertaking.” 

Despite these significant challenges, Sweet applauds the administration for putting the spotlight on literacy. “I believe it’s extremely important that the NYC Public Schools change the way that they’re teaching reading,” Sweet said. “To do that is going to require a gargantuan effort.” Read article

11.21.2022 | Gothamist | In prepared testimony, Janyll Canals with Advocates for Children of New York, said some kids entitled to bus service still don’t have it. “Just last week, we heard from a Spanish-speaking parent whose high school student with a disability has not yet attended school this year because there is no bus in place,” she said. 

Approximately 150,000 students – including young children, students with disabilities, homeless students and children in foster care – are entitled to bus service. The city spends nearly $2 billion on school transportation but problems have plagued the system for years. Parents, especially parents of children with disabilities, have long complained of hours-long commutes, delays and missed pickups. Read article

11.21.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | The situation hasn’t improved this year. Despite help from Advocates for Children, a nonprofit group, Jalissa struggled to secure a bus at the beginning of the school year, even though the required paperwork was filed on time, according to her advocate. She took Deandre to school on public transportation, leaving their shelter at 6:30 a.m. for the hour and a half trip by subway and bus, trips she paid for out of pocket. 

Even after Jalissa finally secured a bus roughly a month into the school year, it is almost always at least an hour late. That has left her in an impossible position, as she does not want to transfer her son to a new school. “I’m very serious about my child’s education,” she said. “I don’t want to change his school.” 

At the same time, she worries about the impact of missed class and lengthy waits. Plus, the unpredictability of the bus schedule has made her reluctant to search for a new job. Frequent calls and complaints to the bus company and the education department’s Office of Pupil Transportation have not resolved the issue. 

Advocates said the rideshare solution is imperfect because it is not always explicitly offered to families and requires a caregiver to ride with their child, often disrupting work routines. 

“It doesn’t really work for all families and it doesn’t resolve the actual bus issue,” said Janyll Canals, the director of the Robin Hood Project at Advocates for Children and who testified at Monday’s City Council hearing. “Multiple families that I’ve worked with don’t know it’s an option until they come to us.” Read article