04.19.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying before the New York City Council Committees on Education and Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services about the need to make certain that our public schools are prepared to provide all students, including those with dyslexia and other disabilities, with appropriate, evidence-based literacy instruction. View our full testimony
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03.31.2016 | In response to today’s release of data pursuant to the Student Safety Act, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released the following statement:
The continued decline in suspensions is good news for the New York City public schools and the students they serve. In an increasing number of schools, educators are working with students and families to implement evidence-based strategies, like restorative practices and collaborative problem solving, that reduce the need for suspensions without compromising safety. We urge the Mayor and the Chancellor of the Department of Education to fund further expansion of these strategies across the city.
The data released today also discloses how often students are transported from schools to hospitals by Emergency Medical Services staff for emotional or psychological reasons. The City Council recently amended the Student Safety Act to require release of this information. This increase in transparency is welcome, as for decades, we have seen school staff call EMS because they don’t have more appropriate strategies or support to help them de-escalate crises and address their students’ emotional needs. This first batch of data on EMS referrals supports the call for expanding crisis intervention support for school staff and mental health services for students in our city’s schools.
03.31.2016 | On Thursday, April 14, AFC's Junior Board and NYU Law School's Education Law and Policy Society will hold a panel on technology and education equity. The event is free, but please register in advance if you plan on attending.
03.14.2016 | AFC presented this white paper, Discipline for Students with Disabilities: Support Rather than Exclusion, the national conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). The paper discusses the rights of students with disabilities to behavioral supports, and individual and systemic advocacy strategies that provide support for students with disabilities instead of excluding them from school. View white paper
03.10.2016 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) is releasing a report, A is for All: Meeting the Literacy Needs of Students with and without Disabilities in the New York City Public Schools, which documents the need for urgent and sustained action to address the particularly low literacy levels for low-income students with disabilities and prepare schools to teach reading effectively for all students. In 2015, less than 7 percent of City students with disabilities achieved proficiency on the New York State English Language Arts (ELA) exam. The report reviews research and case stories indicating that students with a wide range of disabilities are capable of learning to read if they receive appropriate instruction, discusses the key elements for teaching reading effectively, highlights a number of promising programs in New York City, and provides recommendations for implementing systemic and lasting change.
Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director, says, “Every year, Advocates for Children receives hundreds of phone calls from parents seeking help for children who are years behind in reading, at times having made it to middle or high school without ever having mastered the basic skills necessary to read street signs or restaurant menus, let alone academic texts. And every year, we see students make remarkable gains when they finally receive high-quality, evidence-based instruction that targets their individual needs. Unfortunately, whether a given student receives appropriate instruction is largely a matter of luck and family resources. We want a student with dyslexia from a low-income family in New York City to have the same opportunity to learn to read and write effectively as a student with the same disability whose family is upper-middle-class.”
03.01.2016 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) issued the following statement of its Executive Director, Kim Sweet, in response to the New York City Department of Education’s Reporting of Information Regarding Students Receiving Special Education Services pursuant to Local Law 27:
“At Advocates for Children of New York, we were not surprised to see the delays in special education service delivery reported by the Department of Education in response to the requirements of Local Law 27. We get calls every day from families requiring special education supports and services who face obstacles at multiple points along the path to receiving them. Sometimes they have trouble arranging for the necessary evaluations; sometimes the mandatory meetings to arrange individualized special education plans fail to occur; sometimes everyone agrees on the services a student needs, but those services are not put into place in a timely or thorough way.
Clearly, the City must address the problems delivering timely, appropriate, and legally mandated special education supports. First, it needs a data collection system that can track whether and when required services are actually delivered. Only once the City is able to identify where it falls short can it adequately remedy the holes left in the educational experiences of so many students with special education needs.
If there is no reliable way for the DOE to know which children, in which schools, are receiving timely evaluations regarding special education needs and timely and thorough supports, services and placements, then there is no way to ensure that students actually receive the services they so greatly need and are entitled to under federal and state law.” View statement as pdf
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.
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.