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AFC’s COVID-19 Education Recovery Plan and City Budget Priorities

Spring 2021 | AFC has outlined our priorities for education investments we are recommending for the final NYC budget as the City decides how to use the largest one-time federal investment in education in our nation’s history.  Learn more about our COVID-19 Education Recovery Plan and NYC budget priorities

On May 25, 2021, we testified [PDF] before the City Council on the Mayor’s budget proposal, outlining our priorities for an ambitious education initiative to direct the largest one-time federal investment in education in our nation’s history. Click on the links below to learn more about each of AFC's advocacy priorities [PDF] for the Fiscal Year 2022 New York City budget. 

Education Budget Priorities for NYC Fiscal Year 2022 Budget [PDF]
The Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget includes some important education investments, including 100% Fair Student Funding for all schools. In addition, we are encouraged to see investments in areas such as special education services, preschool special education, and social workers. However, the Executive Budget is short on details in some areas and provides inadequate funding levels to meet the need in other areas. Based on our work on the ground partnering with individual families to help their children succeed in school, we have laid out our recommendations for education investments we would like to see in the final NYC budget.

COVID-19 Education Recovery [PDF
Over the past year, the pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the education of children and youth—and the students hit hardest have been those who were already struggling in school or marginalized on the basis of race, poverty, disability, immigration status, English proficiency, homelessness, or involvement in the child welfare or juvenile or criminal justice systems. New York City needs an ambitious Education Recovery Plan to pave the way to hope and opportunity for this generation of students. Such a plan must invest resources in academic support, mental health support, and outreach and engagement. It must be targeted to assist students disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including the provision of specialized instruction and support where needed. With the federal government having approved the largest one-time investment in education in our nation’s history, planning must happen now if we are to make the best use of the resources coming our way and ensure an effective transition back into the classroom for hundreds of thousands of students. This document contains our recommendations for steps the City should take.

Teach Every Student to Read [PDF
One of the most fundamental responsibilities of schools is to teach children how to read, and there is a mountain of scientific research on how to do so effectively. Yet far too many NYC students struggle to become skilled readers—less than half of third through eighth graders, and only 36% of Black and Hispanic students and 16% of students with disabilities in grades 3–8, were reading proficiently in 2019—while far too many schools continue to use ineffective curricula that are not aligned with the science, and far too many teachers have never been trained in evidence-based practice. As the City plans for education recovery, it must invest in a comprehensive effort to revamp the way it provides reading instruction to all students and targeted interventions to students who need extra support, including those in middle and high school.

Mental Health Supports for Students in Police-Free Schools [PDF
The COVID-19 pandemic has created and exacerbated social-emotional challenges for all members of the school community. While the City has committed to addressing student mental health, there is not sufficient additional funding directed towards their needs. The current proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022 contains merely a $35 million increase for Social-Emotional Learning, leaving schools to find a way to provide additional services for students without the funding to pay for them. It is more urgent than ever that the City make students’ mental health and well-being a top priority. The City must re-allocate the $450 million NYPD budget for school policing to support the mental health and social-emotional needs of NYC’s students by funding direct services to support students' social-emotional needs; targeted intensive mental health supports for students; and the expansion and full implementation of school-wide restorative justice practices.

Meet the Need for Preschool Special Education Class Seats [PDF
By early March 2020, hundreds of NYC students were already sitting at home—not because of the pandemic, but because the City did not have enough seats in preschool special education classes. As a result, children with disabilities who had a legal right to a preschool special education class missed a critical opportunity for intervention during the window of time when these services can have the greatest impact. The City must ensure there is a preschool special class seat for every child who requires one, either by opening more DOE-run classes or by ensuring CBOs do so, and should extend salary parity to teachers of CBO preschool special classes so they may continue to support preschoolers with disabilities.

Support Students in Foster Care [PDF
Approximately 6,000 New York City students are in foster care each year. Students in foster care are disproportionately Black and come from NYC’s poorest communities. They are among the most likely to repeat a grade, be chronically absent, or leave high school without a diploma—and were impacted particularly hard by the closure of schools. To support students in foster care, the FY 2022 budget should include $5 million for bus service for students in foster care to increase school stability and $1.5 million to establish a small Department of Education office focused on supporting students in foster care.