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03.03.2015 | Today, AFC is testifying before the City Council Education Committee about the problem of overcrowding in schools and about the charter school cap. We believe it is premature to raise the cap on the number of charter schools before putting laws and practices in place that protect students’ civil rights in the context of school discipline and ensure that charter schools serve high-needs populations. View testimony [PDF]

03.02.2015 | Today AFC will be testifying at the DOE Office of Safety and Youth Development hearing on the draft school discipline code for 2014-2015. AFC is a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign New York (DSC-NY) and supports DSC’s goals of mandating guidance interventions prior to resorting to suspensions, expanding staff trainings that promote positive school environments, and eliminating suspensions for B21—“Defying or Disobeying Authority.” Our testimony focuses on the DOE’s revision to Infraction Code B21 and the importance of addressing the behavioral needs of Pre-K students. View testimony [PDF]

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 [PDF]

city council hearing

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 [PDF]





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 [PDF], 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 [PDF] 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.

View the press release [PDF]
Read the report
 
[PDF]
Read AFC’s Guide to Charter School Discipline [PDF]

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.”

View statement as pdf

02.03.2015 | Today, AFC is testifying in Albany about the proposed state education budget. We urge the Legislature to: 

  1. Increase funding for Pre-K statewide and support New York City’s plan to make Pre-K truly universal; 
  2. Increase funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE); 
  3. Increase funding to support English Language Learners (ELLs) and immigrant students; 
  4. Reject the Executive Budget special education waiver proposal; 
  5. Modify the Executive Budget charter school proposal to ensure that charter schools serve high-needs populations; 
  6. Support the Executive Budget proposal to establish regional rates for Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) services; and 
  7. Increase education funding overall.

View testimony [PDF]

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.” 

View statement as a pdf

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 [PDF]