02.27.2015 | Today, AFC is testifying at the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare hearing on interagency collaboration between the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to protect children in temporary housing. We urge ACS and DHS to create a long-term plan to enroll all eligible children living in the City’s shelters in early childhood education programs. View testimony
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02.25.2015 | Today AFC Project Director Abja Midha (second from left) testified at the New York City Council Committee on Education hearing on English Language Learners (ELLs). In our testimony, we raised concerns about the shortage of bilingual program options for ELLs, particularly in languages other than Spanish. View testimony
02.13.2015 | In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of a package of school discipline reform proposals, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, issued the following statement: “We thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this important step forward on school discipline. He has assembled a leadership team with the potential to develop policies that will benefit thousands of students a year. Advocates for Children is pleased to be part of this effort to reduce suspensions and keep students in school.” View statement as pdf
02.12.2015 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York releases a report, Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies, with key findings that we have made after reviewing 164 New York City charter school discipline policies obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests. A significant number of City charter schools have discipline policies that fail to meet the legal requirements, leading to violations of students’ and parents’ civil rights. The report includes recommendations for state legislators to consider as they discuss raising the cap on charter schools and ensuring that charter schools serve high-needs students.
“We hear from parents who celebrated winning the charter school lottery only to have their students face repeated suspension or expulsion from school with no opportunity to challenge it,” said Paulina Davis, AFC Staff Attorney. “Students do not give up their civil rights when they enter charter schools. We urge the State to ensure that all charter schools have discipline policies that meet legal requirements.”
For families of students attending charter schools, AFC’s Guide to Charter School Discipline explains what to do if your child has been suspended from a charter school, how to appeal a charter school's suspension decision, and your rights throughout the process.
02.11.2015 | In response to New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s State of the City Address, Advocates for Children of New York issued the following statement:
We are pleased that New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito highlighted school discipline reform as a priority in today’s State of the City Address. Her proposals to amend the Student Safety Act to provide more complete suspension data and to increase funding for positive approaches to discipline are important steps to help students avoid unnecessary suspension and stay in class.
“It’s great to see the Speaker come out strong on this issue,” said Bernard Dufresne, Staff Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York. “We stand ready to work with her and the City Council to improve school climate, increase learning, and keep kids in school.”
02.03.2015 | Today, AFC is testifying in Albany about the proposed state education budget. We urge the Legislature to:
- Increase funding for Pre-K statewide and support New York City’s plan to make Pre-K truly universal;
- Increase funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE);
- Increase funding to support English Language Learners (ELLs) and immigrant students;
- Reject the Executive Budget special education waiver proposal;
- Modify the Executive Budget charter school proposal to ensure that charter schools serve high-needs populations;
- Support the Executive Budget proposal to establish regional rates for Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) services; and
- Increase education funding overall.
01.22.2015 | Today, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced significant changes to the system of support and supervision for the City’s public schools.
Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, said, “Re-structuring is never easy, but it very much needs to be done. We will not see substantial advancements in classroom practice for students with special needs and English Language Learners, or system-wide changes in school climate, without establishing a chain of command and a mechanism for linking supervision and support like the one announced today. Structure alone does not improve the quality of children’s education, and we have a number of questions about the details – in particular, the role of the borough-based field offices and the staffing of each core component. However, we are optimistic that the new structure will give the DOE a conduit to help deliver high-quality instruction in classrooms throughout the City, give parents a clear place to go when they need help with their children’s education, and help protect the rights of students.”
01.14.2015 | Today AFC is testifying at the City Council Committee on General Welfare oversight hearing on EarlyLearn. EarlyLearn programs need adequate funding, training, technical assistance, and support to serve all eligible preschool students, including those who need additional support in order to succeed in the classroom and prepare for kindergarten. View our testimony
01.06.2015 | It’s time to apply to kindergarten! Parents of children born in 2010 should apply to kindergarten between January 7th and February 13th. Advocates for Children of New York has resources to help families with this important transition.
All families with children born in 2010 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 (formerly known as a borough enrollment office) between January 7th and February 13th. This year, the online application is available in 10 languages. For more information, please review and share AFC’s Kindergarten Admissions Guide, available in English and Spanish, and the DOE’s Kindergarten Admissions Website.
In addition, the DOE is holding information sessions on the admissions process.
Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus
The Michael J. Petrides School, Building C
The High School of Fashion Industries
Prospect Heights Educational Campus
Forest Hills High School
Additional Process for Students with Disabilities:
In addition to applying to kindergarten, families with children born in 2010 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, and the DOE’s Turning 5 Website.
12.18.2014 | The New York State and New York City Class of 2014 graduation rates released today show limited progress for students across the state. Nearly 24 percent of high school students statewide and 36 percent of high school students in New York City failed to graduate with a high school diploma within four years. In particular, English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities, who are some of our most vulnerable students, continue to be left behind. The new data shows that both the State and the City need to double down on efforts to improve instruction for students with disabilities and ELLs so that they can achieve their potential and graduate with a high school diploma.
In addition, New York State needs to reduce its emphasis on 5 high-stakes standardized exit exams, which continue to pose an unnecessary and significant barrier to graduation for many students. New York State should develop a plan for multiple pathways to a diploma that maintain a high standard of student learning, while allowing achievement of that standard to be demonstrated in a variety of ways and by students who are not currently crossing the finish line to graduation. Any plan for multiple pathways should include instructional and assessment options for all students, including the 24 percent of students currently not graduating within 4 years.
With respect to assessments, New York State should:
- Reduce the number of exit exams required to graduate from 5 to 3;
- Develop a pathway to graduation that allows all students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through State-developed and/or approved performance-based assessments in lieu of each required exit exam; and
- Build more flexibility into the current system by expanding access to the appeals process for all students.
We outline the above recommendations in greater detail in our report, Rethinking Pathways to High School Graduation in New York State: Forging New Ways for Students to Show Their Achievement of Standards, which can be found here.