01.27.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying at the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2016-2017 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget proposal, urging legislators to increase investments in education programs such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), prekindergarten, and support for English Language Learners (ELLs). Earlier this week, AFC also submitted testimony on the 2016-2017 Health Budget proposal, urging legislators to reject a budget proposal to restructure the Early Intervention screening and evaluation process and to increase funding for home visiting programs. View our Education Budget testimony and our Health Budget testimony.
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01.14.2016 | In response to the release of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2016-2017 Executive Budget, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) released the following statement:
Governor Cuomo’s proposed education budget misses an opportunity to help tens of thousands of students throughout New York State who need targeted support to succeed in school. We are disappointed that the proposal does not include the funding levels recommended by the New York State Board of Regents for the following priorities:
- An increase of $42 million for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in 2016-2017 and an additional $65 million for these programs to be reimbursed in 2017-2018. Currently, more than 20 percent of students in New York State fail to graduate in four years, and CTE holds the possibility of promoting student engagement and advancement toward college or career readiness.
- An increase of $75 million in 2016-2017 for the education of English Language Learners (ELLs). The most recent graduation data shows that only 34% of ELLs statewide graduated with a high school diploma within four years. The Board of Regents recommended a variety of approaches, including specialized academic programs, professional development, and family engagement, that would give much-needed support to ELLs.
- An increase of $125 million in 2016-2017 for the continued expansion of prekindergarten programs. Research shows that high-quality prekindergarten helps children from low-income backgrounds prepare to succeed in school. However, despite promises to make prekindergarten universal for four year olds, thousands of four-year-old children across the State do not yet have access. We appreciate the Governor’s proposed increase of $22 million for prekindergarten for three year olds, but this funding falls far short of meeting the need.
- An increase of $75 million over two years for family and community engagement to assist families in supporting the education of their children.
We are also disappointed that the proposed education funding falls short of the amount recommended by the Board of Regents and promised pursuant to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
01.11.2016 | Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, issued the following statement in response to the proposal for expanding graduation pathways for all students discussed at today’s Board of Regents meeting:
New York State's emphasis on five high-stakes standardized exit exams continues to be an unnecessary barrier to high school graduation for students who have otherwise mastered the State’s learning standards and are college or career ready. These five exams are not the only way, and often not the best way, to assess whether students have met high standards. Although high school graduation rates have improved slightly over the past year, 22 percent of students across New York State are not graduating with a high school diploma within four years. The percentage of students who are not graduating in New York City is even higher, with 33 percent not graduating within four years. Vulnerable student populations also continue to trail behind their peers, with 62 percent of New York City students with disabilities and 64 percent of the City’s English Language Learners not graduating within four years.
We are pleased that the New York State Board of Regents and State Education Department have taken steps today to move away from the current one-size-fits-all approach to graduation requirements. We support expanding the eligibility criteria for Regents exam appeals and making the Career and Development Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential available to all students, in lieu of one of the five Regents exams. We also strongly urge the Board of Regents and State Education Department to move forward quickly with the development of performance-based assessments, which support a diversity of learning styles and goals while also maintaining a high standard of learning.
01.07.2016 | AFC joins our colleagues throughout New York in mourning the passing of Judith Kaye, the State’s former Chief Judge. We were privileged to partner with Judge Kaye in her advocacy to keep kids in school and out of courts. Judge Kaye knew that courts are no place for children to grow up. Thanks to her passionate, articulate, and effective leadership, we have seen school-justice partnerships take hold across the nation, with the goal of ending the school-to-prison pipeline and providing young people with safe and supportive learning environments. Judge Kaye was one of our heroes, and we will miss her greatly.
Judge Kaye speaks with student honoree Stash M. at AFC's 2010 Spring Benefit, at which she received the Jill Chaifetz Award in recognition of her work on behalf of New York's children and youth.
Judge Kaye announces the release of the report and recommendations of the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force (May 2013).
November 2015 | This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (formerly called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act), which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford on November 29, 1975. This landmark legislation, which underlies almost all of Advocates for Children’s work on behalf of students with disabilities, ensured access to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for every child in the United States. Prior to 1975, the majority of children with disabilities were excluded from public school entirely, segregated from their non-disabled peers in sub-par settings, or left without the services and supports they needed to make educational progress. While there remains much work to be done to ensure students with disabilities not only have a seat in the classroom, but receive a quality education and equal access to opportunities once there, we mark this milestone by paying tribute to the families and advocates who paved the way.
Read a letter from Executive Director Kim Sweet marking this milestone.
For more on the history of the IDEA, see the U.S. Department of Education's website.
A few AFC staff members reflect on what the IDEA means to them.
11.16.2015 | Children born in 2011 are eligible to enter kindergarten in September 2016, and there are steps that families can start taking now to prepare for this important milestone!
From November 16th through December 10th, the DOE is holding Kindergarten Orientation Meetings to provide information about the transition to kindergarten to families of students with disabilities born in 2011. These meetings will cover the kindergarten admissions process and the process of developing a kindergarten IEP. The schedule is available in English and in other languages.
From December 1st through December 16th, the DOE is holding Kindergarten Information Sessions to provide information about the kindergarten admissions process to families of all students born in 2011. The schedule is available here.
Please encourage families to attend these meetings!
Advocates for Children of New York has updated two resources to help families with the transition to kindergarten.
Updated Kindergarten Admissions Guide:
All families with children born in 2011 are encouraged to participate in the DOE’s kindergarten admissions process. Families can apply to up to 12 schools using one application form. They can complete this application form online, over the phone, or in person at a Family Welcome Center between December 7, 2015 and January 15, 2016. Please note that the application period is one month earlier than it has been in the past. For more information, please review and share AFC’s Kindergarten Admissions Guide, available in English and Spanish.
Updated Turning 5 Guide:
In addition to applying to kindergarten, families with children born in 2011 who have IEPs will be participating in a second process—development of kindergarten IEPs. For comprehensive information about the transition to kindergarten for students with disabilities, please review and share AFC’s Turning 5 Guide, available in English and Spanish.
We also encourage you to review and share the DOE’s kindergarten materials:
- Kindergarten Admissions for All Students: www.nyc.gov/schools/kindergarten
- Transition to Kindergarten for Students with Disabilities: http://schools.nyc.gov/kindergartenspecialeducation
Both websites have very helpful information for families of children born in 2011.
We hope these resources will help you navigate the transition to kindergarten! If you have questions, please call AFC’s Education Helpline at 866-427-6033. Our Helpline is open from Monday – Thursday, 10:00am – 4:00pm.
11.06.2015 | Pass rates fell dramatically last year for students who took the Algebra Regents exam. This happened in the midst of a shift to the Common Core and had a particularly profound effect on several at-risk student populations, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and students of color.
While many students struggled with the Common Core exams last year, the struggle was considerably greater for these students, as marked by their pass rates on the new exams. Graduation rates for these populations are already unacceptably low — 32.5% for students with disabilities, 36.6% for English Language Learners, 56.6% for Latino students, and 58.6% for Black students. The number of times some of these students must retake exams to pass has traditionally been quite high. We expect that graduation rates for these students will almost certainly fall as the students unable to pass the newly designed exams drop out, frustrated and feeling defeated.
We urge the State to take a serious look at providing alternate ways for students to demonstrate proficiency — something already done in several other states. Until they do, the educational crisis here in New York is likely to get worse as the higher cut scores go into effect in 2022, and the repercussions will prove significantly more costly than any gains made through the new exams. View statement as pdf
10.30.2015 | Today AFC submitted comments on the New York City Department of Education’s Proposed Community Schools Policy, which we view as an important vehicle for creating shared language and expectations around the City’s Community Schools Initiative. View comments
10.26.2015 | On the evening of November 19, the ARISE Coalition (which is coordinated by AFC) and the Mental Health Association of New York City will be co-sponsoring a panel and parent speak out on behavior supports for students with disabilities. Download a larger version of the flyer in English and Spanish.