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AFC in the News

05.03.2022 | New York Post | More than 100,000 public school students were homeless last school year — including a third that lived in New York City shelters. More than half of students living in shelters miss at least one out of every 10 school days, according to data cited by Advocates for Children. 

The DOE committed in February to adding 50 community coordinators in shelters, but advocates said they were still waiting for those job descriptions to be posted. 

“We would like to see the DOE begin hiring right away,” said Randi Levine of Advocates for Children. 

Department officials did not return a request for comment on the status of that hiring process. Read article

05.02.2022 | NY Daily News | Yet enormous obstacles remain to creating widespread change in a system with 1,600 schools and more than 70,000 teachers — and advocates warn that the DOE could squander its opportunity without specific and long-term plans for how to make reforms stick. 

“History tells us the work ahead will not be easy and good intentions are not enough,” wrote the nonprofit group Advocates for Children in a report released Monday offering recommendations for the Education Department. Read article

05.02.2022 | New York Post | “Every parent sends their child to school assuming they will be taught to read,” said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children. “Yet when students struggle, parents often have to find help on their own.” 

“As a city, we need to stop accepting that unacceptable outcome and provide the literacy instruction and support needed to make all children proficient readers,” she said. 

Alongside the letter, a new report from Advocates for Children on Monday pushed for coordinated efforts across the nation’s largest school system to use evidence-based literacy curriculum, and support the teachers implementing those lesson plans. Read article

05.02.2022 | amNewYork | “Every parent sends their child to school assuming they will be taught to read. Yet when students struggle, parents often have to find help on their own,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of AFC. “As a city, we need to stop accepting that unacceptable outcome and provide the literacy instruction and support needed to make all children proficient readers.” 

Literacy challenges are far from a new struggle within NYC, and the AFC believes that under the leadership of Mayor Adams – who has candidly spoken about his struggles with dyslexia – and Chancellor Banks who has pledged to revamp literacy instruction, with $250 million already designated for “academic recovery and student supports”, the struggle to improve literacy will be met with sincerity. Read article

05.02.2022 | Gothamist | The report from Advocates for Children – “Reaching Every Reader” – argued the fact that so few public school students are being taught to read effectively is “unconscionable,” citing how less than 47% of all third through eighth graders, and only 36% of Black and Hispanic students, scored proficient in reading on 2019 state tests. 

“[W]hen students do not attain a level of reading proficiency sufficient to pass the state test, they have not failed,” the report said. “The school system has failed them.” Read article

05.02.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “For many parents, it is not possible to transport their child with significant disabilities to and from their school,” said Randi Levine, from Advocates for Children. “We know many students with disabilities last year were unable to participate in the Summer Rising afternoon activities due to lack of bus service.” Read article

04.29.2022 | Gothamist | Families and advocacy groups welcomed the news, but say that the city needs to commit to training all teachers across the system on strong, proven literacy strategies that benefit students with dyslexia and other reading challenges, such as training more teachers in evidence-based interventions. “We’re pleased the mayor is suggesting new investments in this area and want to see the city go further,” said Sarah Part, policy analyst at Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

04.28.2022 | Advocates want the city Education Department to hire 150 people to make sure students in homeless shelters get to school every day. 

Chronic absenteeism — defined as missing more than one in ten school days — is a big challenge citywide this year, and it’s more pronounced among students in homeless shelters. Last school year, 64% of students living in shelters were marked chronically absent, compared to 28% of their peers in permanent housing.

The money to hire workers in shelters would come from $33 million in federal stimulus funds, the advocates say. The workers, called community coordinators, would help homeless families with any school-based needs. The city has already committed to hiring 50 new community coordinators with federal cash, but advocates say that’s not enough, and are pushing the agency to use the remainder of the federal money to hire 100 more.

“With 60% of students living in shelter chronically absent from school, it is important to have someone on the ground in the shelter who can partner directly with families, determine why a particular child is missing school, and resolve the problem,” 30 advocacy organizations wrote in a letter Thursday to Mayor Adams and schools Chancellor David Banks.  Read article

04.22.2022 | NY Daily News | “The DOE really asked a lot of parents during the pandemic. It’s a much harder ask for parents who don’t speak English,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, the director of the Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children.

Orquiria, a Bronx mother of two city public school students learning English, said delays in receiving city-issued iPads and difficulty understanding how to access virtual classes contributed to her kids’ frequent absences last year.

“They missed many of their classes,” said the Bronx mom, who asked to use only her first name to protect her kids’ privacy. Read article

04.21.2022 | Chalkbeat NY | “It’s very frustrating and actually quite depressing for us as advocates because we know that when we meet a student who lives geographically far from the [English language learner] transfer schools, we know immediately it is going to be an uphill battle,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, director of the Immigrant Students Rights Project at Advocates for Children New York. 

During visits to the five transfer schools focused on students learning English as a new language, Rodriguez-Engberg was struck by how many students said they were glad to have a bilingual social worker who “could help them navigate not just school life but life in the U.S.” Students may be dealing with varying levels of trauma, she said, such as coming to the U.S. alone, leaving conflict behind in a home country, being detained at the border before being released, or just missing home. Read article