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09.22.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | In New York City, as of 2013, students enrolled in CTE schools were more likely to graduate than those who were not, a finding that’s especially true for students with disabilities or who are learning English. But Sam Streed, a policy analyst with Advocates for Children, said steps need to be taken to make sure those students get into CTE programs in the first place. “We cannot tell from public data whether they have equitable access to the full range of available programs,” he said, in prepared remarks. Read article

09.19.2016 | Public News Service | School crime hit a record low in the second quarter of 2016, and fewer students were arrested overall. But Dawn Yuster, school justice project director at Advocates for Children of New York, said the vast majority of those involved with police while in school were students of color. "New York City needs to develop and implement a long-overdue strategy plan to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, in which black and Hispanic students are disproportionately arrested, handcuffed, issued summonses and suspended from school,” Yuster said. Advocates for Children is asking the city to revise the Memorandum of Understanding between the NYPD and the Department of Education to decriminalize student misbehavior by clearly delineating the roles of school administrators and police. According to Yuster, students as young as 16 are issued summonses to appear in court for minor misbehavior that isn't criminal. Read article

09.15.2016 | Wall Street Journal | Several advocacy groups applauded the declines but said the school system must do more to stop the disproportionate arrests of black and Latino students. Advocates for Children of New York, an antidiscrimination organization, said more staff must be trained to defuse crises, and the city needs a more comprehensive plan to address racial disparities in discipline. Read article

09.15.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Several other advocacy organizations, including Advocates for Children and the New York Civil Liberties Union, also independently called on the city to come up with a comprehensive plan to significantly reduce racial disparities in student interactions with police...Roughly 250 summonses were issued to students, many of them for minor offenses such as disorderly conduct or marijuana possession. Some of the students were as young as 16, and more than half of them were black. Students issued summonses at school can become ensnared in the criminal justice system, explained Advocates for Children, for “minor misbehavior that does not rise the level of a crime.” Read article

09.09.2016 | DNA Info | Charter schools, however, also give out limited access letters, according to Randi Levine, of Advocates for Children, whose organization gets occasional complaints about the process from parents at traditional public schools and charters. Advocates for Children recently worked with a family from an Upper Manhattan public school given a limited access letter after the father sought the nonprofit's legal assistance because the school wasn’t providing his child mandated special needs services. “We think the letter was used in retaliation,” Levine said. "We think parent involvement is critical for a school’s success and schools should make every effort to work with them and not ban them," she added. Read article

09.08.2016 | Queens Chronicle | Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children, was not entirely shocked by the number of schools reporting zero incidents, saying DASA is a law educators have struggled with since it went into effect in 2012. “There is a critical need for better training and better implementation of DASA in New York City,” Yuster said. “The report shows a lot of work needs to be done.” Read article

09.07.2016 | DNA Info | Over the next decade, all students will be expected to be reading on grade level by the end of second grade thanks to help from reading coaches — which will be put in place at approximately 100 elementary schools this year. The initiative is part of the DOE's “Equity and Excellence” plan, which is expected to be phased in over the coming decade. The first new reading coaches will go into the high needs areas of the South Bronx’s District 9, District 10 (which includes Fordham and Kingsbridge), Central Brooklyn’s District 17 and Bushwick’s District 32. Many education watchdogs are excited that the DOE is focusing on literacy instruction, but believe parents must be included in the process for the program to be successful. “Students whose families are involved learn to read sooner than their peers whose families are less so,” said Maggie Moroff, from Advocates for Children. “We've been talking to anyone at the DOE who will listen to us on this point, and we want to see how they communicate with, engage, and really partner with families as they roll out their literacy initiative.” Read article

08.23.2016 | Chalkbeat New York | Dawn Yuster, who directs Advocates for Children’s School Justice Project, largely echoed those arguments. She said the most serious infractions, including using force against a school safety agent, are often the result of student behavior that is misidentified or mismanaged from the start. “This charge doesn’t happen in isolation,” said Yuster, whose organization has handled numerous complaints about school discipline from parents. It “signals that further training [is] needed for school staff to be able to better support students.” Read article

08.09.2016 | Politico New York | The Department of Education held a hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s newly announced ban on suspensions for children in grades Kindergarten through second grade on Monday evening, which was notably well-attended for a mid-summer hearing in an un-air conditioned auditorium in Chelsea. The hearing was overwhelmingly attended by students and administers who support the ban, including dozens of black and Latino New York City high school students who spoke personally about the impact of frequent suspensions in their schools. Read article

07.27.2016 | Hechinger Report | Whether because of test anxiety or other reasons, students in states with exit exams are generally less likely to graduate than those in states without the tests, according to research compiled by Advocates for Children of New York. The gap is especially pronounced for English language learners and students with disabilities. Read article