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. The IDEA, which has changed the lives of millions of students over the past four decades, would not have been possible without the tenacious advocacy of parents who fought for their children’s right to equal educational opportunity, first in the courts and then at the highest levels of government. 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, as well as the thousands of equally tenacious parents who we’re privileged to work with every year.
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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.
10.14.2015 | Congratulations to AFC Board member Caroline J. Heller, who has been named head of the firmwide Pro Bono Program at Greenberg Traurig, LLP! In addition to serving on our Board of Directors, Caroline is a superstar pro bono attorney. Last year, an 11-year-old AFC client, for whom Caroline secured placement in a private special education school, wrote her to say, "I think this letter is not enough to tell you thank you for everything you did for me. I really love my school. Not all kids have this chance but God helped to put you in my life. I’m so happy. My mom helped me to write this letter. She is so, so happy, she thinks everything is possible in this life. Thanks again and again and again."
10.01.2015 | For many years, AFC has been a federally funded Parent Training and Information Center. Today we are proud to announce the launch of the New York Region 1 PTIC Collaborative. Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, we will be working with IncludeNYC, Sinergia, and the Long Island Advocacy Center to provide training and information to families of children with disabilities, as well as the professionals that work with them, throughout New York City and Long Island.
10.01.2015 | Today both AFC and the ARISE Coalition, which is coordinated by AFC, are testifying before the City Council Committee on Education about the new DOE structure for supporting schools and families. We are pleased that the new DOE structure includes a Family Support Coordinator in each Superintendent’s office who is responsible for addressing families’ concerns. In order for Family Support Coordinators to be effective, we have several recommendations. View AFC's testimony and the ARISE Coalition's testimony.
09.29.2015 | Advocates for Children of New York applauds the City Council’s efforts to make New York City a model for the rest of the country in publicly reporting school discipline and police department activity in public schools. The City Council is expected to vote tomorrow to pass amendments to the Student Safety Act that require the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and New York City Police Department (NYPD) to report more robust information related to student suspensions, arrests, and summonses in school and post the information on their respective websites.
“We are grateful to the City Council for its leadership on this important bill, which will bring to light data necessary to the public understanding of how students are disciplined and arrested in the city’s schools,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “We have represented students in suspension proceedings for decades and have long noted troubling racial disparities and other patterns that called for changes in policy and practice. This law allows schools, government agencies, and the public to see what’s happening and come together to make changes where they are desperately needed.”
09.21.2015 | AFC has created a brand-new fact sheet, Questions & Answers About Literacy (also available in Spanish), for families of students who are struggling with reading. The fact sheet explains how to get help for your child and some of the services and supports available for struggling readers.
In addition, we also have a new fact sheet on language access for immigrant families, Translation and Interpretation Services in New York City Public Schools (also available in Spanish and Chinese). The fact sheet explains the rights of public school parents who do not speak English and how to get translation and interpretation services.
We have recently updated many of our other fact sheets to include the latest information, including:
- New York City High School Promotion and Graduation Requirements
- High School Graduation Options for Students with Disabilities
- High School Promotion and Graduation Policy for English Language Learners (ELLs)
- Promotion Policy for English Language Learners (ELLs) in Grades K—8
- Enrollment in New York City Public Schools for Immigrant Families
- Questions and Answers about Charter Schools
- Rights of Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools
To download translations, or to view even more publications on a variety of education-related topics, please visit our resource library.