07.29.2014 | Yesterday AFC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education regarding disproportionality under Section 618(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Our comments focus on racial disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of children with disabilities in New York City. Both citywide data and AFC’s on-the-ground experiences indicate that New York City disproportionately identifies Black students with an Emotional Disturbance (ED) classification and students classified as ED are much more likely to be removed from mainstream environments and placed in highly segregated settings. Students of color, students with disabilities, and students of color with disabilities are also disproportionately suspended from school, and New York City has not consistently provided IDEA protections to the students with disabilities it suspends. View comments
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07.18.2014 | AFC has a newly updated "Know Your Rights" guidebook for immigrant families in the New York City public schools! The guide is available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu, and covers topics such as enrolling in school, services for English Language Learners and students with disabilities, and parents' rights to interpretation and translation.
For families seeking one-on-one assistance on educational issues, AFC's Helpline is staffed by education specialists who are fluent in Spanish and Chinese. We also have a telephone interpretation service for callers of other languages. This flyer provides instructions in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu on how to call the Helpline and request an interpreter.
07.16.2014 | Today AFC is testifying before the New York State Assembly Committee on Education regarding Career and Technical Education (CTE) in New York State (NYS). To respond to the graduation crisis in NYS, we must create both instructional and assessment pathways that take into account the postsecondary aspirations and learning styles of all students. We believe CTE can play a major role in this endeavor, especially as part of a broader system of multiple pathways to graduation. Unfortunately, many students have been limited in gaining access to CTE programs, particularly students with disabilities and English Language Learners. It is our hope that A.8189A/S.5966A begins to open doors to quality CTE programs for all students. Our testimony discusses considerations this legislation must address. View testimony
06.23.2014 | The graduation rates released today show little progress for the State as a whole, with a disturbing decrease in the percentage of English Language Learners receiving a diploma. With 25% of students in New York State leaving high school empty-handed, we have a graduation crisis that will require creativity and commitment to resolve. Although we need to improve college and career readiness for students already graduating, we cannot continue to leave so many students behind.
While strengthening our schools from pre-kindergarten through middle school is critically important, the State desperately needs also to develop new pathways to graduation that open doors to post-secondary education and jobs for students who are already in high school and not currently likely to graduate. These pathways must be accessible to the wide range of students – including English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students in traditionally underserved communities – and also provide alternative ways for students who do not do well on standardized tests to show that they have mastered the material. View AFC's full statement
06.12.2014 | AFC submitted testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Education regarding the proposed bill to equip all exit doors in elementary school buildings and buildings accommodating District 75 programs with an alarm system. We support the targeted use of alarms, but only as a piece of a larger plan. To be successful, any move to protect students from elopement will also need to include targeted training of school staff, improved communication within each school building and a variety of carefully thought out preventive measures. View testimony
06.03.2014 | Today the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center released its School Discipline Consensus Report. The Consensus Report highlights successful school discipline reform efforts from a diverse array of school districts including Denver, CO, Austin, TX, and Baltimore, MD. Notably, the Consensus Report’s recommendations echo many of those in the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force’s May 2013 Report and Recommendations issued last year. In particular, the Consensus Report validates the Task Force’s lead recommendation for a Mayoral-led initiative that brings together diverse stakeholders to reform New York City’s school-justice practices. The Report’s first policy statement reads: “School personnel work in partnership with students and their families; behavioral health, child welfare, and juvenile justice professionals; and other community members connected with the school and its students to assess the current school climate and conditions for learning, and identify areas for improvement.”
Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, said, “With this report, the case for comprehensive school discipline reform is more compelling than ever, both nationally and here in New York City. We believe New York City has the potential be a national leader on school discipline reform. We urge Mayor de Blasio to look to the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force’s Report and Recommendations as his blueprint for systemic change.”
05.15.2014 | This Saturday, May 17, marks the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared that separate is inherently unequal in public education. The words of Chief Justice Earl Warren ring as true today as they did in 1954: “In these days it is doubtful that any child can be reasonably expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”
As we celebrate this great moment in our history, we also recognize that we still have much work left to do to ensure equal educational opportunity for all children. In recent decades, schools have become more segregated, not less, and a recent study found that New York State has the most segregated schools in the nation.
School integration, 1955. Barnard School, Washington, D.C.
U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.
As we see every day in our work at Advocates for Children, the promise of Brown remains unfulfilled. For example:
- Starting at age 4, children of color are disproportionately suspended, expelled, and pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline—though research has yielded no evidence that they have higher rates of misbehavior than their white peers.
- Black children are disproportionately referred for special education services and disproportionately classified as emotionally disturbed or intellectually disabled.
- In New York City, less than three in five Black and Hispanic students graduate high school in four years—a rate about 20 percentage points lower than that of white students.
We’re proud to be part of the ongoing struggle for educational equity and racial justice, whether it’s by helping individual families access the services their children need and deserve; filing litigation to improve education law and policy; pushing for positive approaches to school discipline that keep kids in school; or breaking down barriers that prevent immigrant parents from participating in their children’s education.
Thank you for joining us in the fight to protect every child’s right to learn.
05.12.2014 | In New York State, 25% of all high school students—and 55% of students with disabilities and 65% of ELLs—fail to graduate in four years. Each student who leaves high school without a diploma costs the State at least $70,000 in lost tax payments and increased welfare and crime expenditures.
On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, the Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, which is coordinated by AFC, held a policy briefing in Albany to discuss New York’s graduation crisis and the need for meaningful alternative pathways that provide ALL students with a variety of ways to demonstrate they meet standards and are college or career ready. At the briefing, which was co-sponsored by State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Senator John Flanagan, parents and students shared their experiences with New York State's high-stakes exit exams. Advocates, educators, and service providers also offered recommendations for instructional models that can help at-risk students graduate and alternatives to the high-stakes exit exams that currently serve as barriers to graduation.
View a PowerPoint presentation from the policy briefing with more data on graduation rates, and check out our recent report for more information on multiple pathways offered in other states and detailed recommendations from the Coalition.
05.08.2014 | Thank you to everyone who supported our 2014 Spring Benefit! More than 650 guests joined us on May 7 at 360° to celebrate another successful year at Advocates for Children, as well as the accomplishments of this year’s honorees, Eugene Ludwig and Al-Yasid Johnson. This year's event was our most successful yet! In addition to the generous support of our sponsors and ticket buyers, we raised another $50,000 last night to enable us to serve more families on our Education Helpline.
Eugene Ludwig, recipient of the 2014 Jill Chaifetz Award, with Al-Yasid Johnson, recipient of the 2014 Education Champion Award, and past student honorees Stash, Khiry, and Zio Jr.
AFC Board President, Eric Grossman of Morgan Stanley, with honorees Al-Yasid Johnson and Eugene Ludwig; Executive Director Kim Sweet; and Jamie Levitt, AFC Board President from 2004-2013.
05.06.2014 | Today AFC staff attorney Paulina Davis testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education on the need to improve charter school accountability and oversight, particularly with regard to discipline policies and the recruitment, enrollment, and retention of students with disabilities and English Language Learners. AFC supports the Council’s bill calling for reports to the DOE on student demographic data for all co-located schools. View testimony