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AFC in the News

07.26.2017 | Guernica | In 1975, Congress enacted what is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law granting all children the right to a “free appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment.” The statute’s implications are profound: students with a range of disabilities are entitled to specially designed services, and, as much as possible, they must be educated in mainstream classrooms. About 6.5 million children across the US now receive special-education services. Under the IDEA, parents, school staff, and other professionals work together to craft an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each eligible student. An IEP defines a student’s learning needs and the supports the school will minister, providing parents a legal basis to advocate for their children. If a dispute arises, parents may seek mediation or request a due-process hearing. However, for many low-income and minority families, these protections remain abstractions... For forty years, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) has worked to realize the ideals of the IDEA by representing low-income families in school-related proceedings. Read article

07.24.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Career and technical education has been shown to help students make it to graduation. But New York City’s English language learners — who consistently lag behind their peers when it comes to on-time graduation — are both under-enrolled in the city’s CTE programs and less likely to complete them, according to a new report. Released Monday by the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York, the report shows that while English learners made up 10.8 percent of the city’s high school students in the 2015–16 school year, they comprised only 5.3 percent of students in CTE programs. Though the number of CTE schools in New York City has increased dramatically over the past decade, the report raises the question of whether all groups of students are benefiting equally from these programs. Read article

07.12.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, said in an interview that the report’s findings did not surprise her and that related services are just as important as general academic instruction. “It’s all the other things that go into a student’s ability to process and learn and develop in school,” Moroff said. “Without any of them, you’re denying a student a really important piece of their education.” Read article

06.20.2017 | WNYC | Emma Albert, 14, has never entered her school through the front door. The eighth grader has a vascular malformation on her left leg, which means that since the first grade she used a wheelchair though she could switch to crutches for short distances. And it means that she could access only the areas of her school that were wheelchair accessible. So, each morning she entered The Manhattan School for Children through a side entrance. When it came time to apply to high school, she lamented that her search was driven more by accessibility than school offerings. "They don’t really care about, 'What are your interests outside of school?' It’s like, as long as it’s accessible, it’s a good school for you," she said. Emma and other students spoke at a recent panel on school accessibility, organized by the ARISE Coalition (coordinated by Advocates for Children) and Parents for Inclusive Education. Read article

06.14.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | For many students, navigating the middle and high school admissions process can be overwhelming because New York City’s choice system allows them to apply to dozens of schools. But for students with physical disabilities, it can be overwhelming for the opposite reason: Very few schools are completely accessible to them. A coalition of advocates hope to raise awareness about that gap by hosting a panel discussion and “speak-out” Thursday evening where middle and high school students with physical, vision, and hearing impairments will talk about their experiences making their way through the city’s admissions process. “A lot of these students end up with really, really limited school options,” said Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, and who is helping coordinate the event. Read article

05.09.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Maggie Moroff, a disability policy expert at Advocates for Children, said the report validates the idea that problems with SESIS have persisted for years without being adequately addressed. But the bigger issue, she emphasized, is that many students with disabilities are going without services they need. “We can’t wait,” Moroff said. “They have to be fixing [SESIS] and fix the service deficiencies in the system at the same time.” Read article

04.26.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2018 executive budget, unveiled Wednesday, was hailed as a win by advocates who successfully pushed for the restoration of $10.3 million in funding for homeless students omitted from his draft budget. “We are disappointed that we had to fight to get the $10.3 million restored,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, “but are relieved that the mayor has restored the funding.”...The restored $10.3 million for homeless students will pay for dozens of social workers in schools with high populations of homeless students through an initiative called “Bridging the Gap,” an Afterschool Reading Club program for children living in shelters, and teachers based in shelters who are charged with boosting school attendance, among other initiatives. While advocates praised the mayor for including that funding, they said it’s still far less than is needed to truly address the crisis. Read article

04.19.2017 | New York Daily News | Advocates say the services are needed now more than ever because the city’s homeless crisis has reached historic proportions, with an all-time high of 105,000 kids in temporary housing now enrolled in public schools. “Students living in shelters need supports in order to succeed in school,” said Randi Levine, policy director for the non-profit group Advocates for Children of New York. “With a record number of students living in shelters, now is the time for the city to increase its support, not pull it away,” Levine added. Read article

04.13.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | Officials rejected 453 of the 2,008 requests to suspend students for insubordination, or 23 percent. And they rejected about 20 percent of the 1,039 attempts to suspend students in grades K-3, or 31 percent if you include the more serious suspensions that already required approval. “It is promising to see that there are rejections and that suspensions are not rubber-stamped by the Department of Education,” said Dawn Yuster, the school justice project director at Advocates for Children. “They’re using this as a way of showing schools they’re serious about the policy changes.” Read article

03.31.2017 | Chalkbeat New York | “Although the city has seen a positive drop in the numbers of suspensions, we still have far to go,” said Dawn Yuster, the school justice project director at Advocates for Children, who added that her organization receives hundreds of calls each year from students facing suspensions, and that most are black or have disabilities. Yuster criticized the city’s commitment to school discipline reform in the long term. “The city’s preliminary budget does not contain the funding that is needed to maintain the gains from earlier investments in school discipline reform and support schools that are looking to move away from exclusionary discipline practices.” Read article