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AFC in the News

06.30.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates For Children New York, said the investment is just over half of what City Council and advocates had asked for and falls short of the need. 

“In addition, the budget does not include any additional funding for evidence-based literacy interventions for students who need additional support in reading,” Sweet wrote in a statement. “Every year, AFC hears from hundreds of families concerned that their students are not learning to read within NYC public schools, and the data show that less than half of 3rd through 8th graders are reading proficiently with alarming disparities based on race, disability, and housing status.” Read article

06.30.2021 | Gothamist | “While the final budget includes some important education investments, it falls far short of meeting the needs of the students we work with every day,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children. “The DOE is getting $7 billion in COVID-19 relief funding and there’s not yet any new funding targeted to programs for English Language Learners, students who are homeless, or students in foster care – all of whom were hit particularly hard by the pandemic and need specialized support.” Read article

06.29.2021 | NY1 | “The special education teachers, who serve some of the city’s most vulnerable children, students with the most intensive needs, are going to be some of the lowest paid teachers in the city. And what’s likely is that they’re going to leave their jobs at the preschools special education programs for higher paying jobs elsewhere,” said Betty Baez Melo, director of the Early Childhood Education Project at Advocates for Children. Watch video

06.29.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | For weeks, Advocates for Children demanded that city officials provide round-trip yellow bus service at the day’s end to students who typically receive it during the school year. Without it, they said, some of the city’s most vulnerable students, including those who use wheelchairs and homeless students who live far from public transportation, would be shut out of a significant chunk of the summer enrichment program. 

Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, which has raised concerns about the busing policies in recent weeks, said the transportation plan could still impose logistical burdens on families. 

“While reimbursement may help some families, many families who are homeless or have low incomes cannot afford to lay out money for daily car service and wait for the DOE to reimburse them,” Levine wrote in an email. 

Levine said the education department should pay upfront for families to take taxis to Summer Rising sites and accompany their children home. Read article

06.28.2021 | amNY | Just under 100 education advocacy groups sent a joint letter [PDF] last week asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to fix the city’s shortage of preschool special education seats by boosting the salaries of Department of Education-contracted pre-k special education teachers to be on par with their general education counterparts. Read article

06.26.2021 | NY Post | Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, told The Post: “We have heard from some families who were placed on the waitlist at their preferred program, and certainly want to ensure that every family has access to a Summer Rising seat that works for them.” 

She also said that bus transportation was currently limited to students with disabilities and in shelters, who receive bus service during the year, and those who require summer school to advance a grade. And even that is “only for the instructional part of the day, not for the enrichment activities” promised as part of Summer Rising. 

“We’re glad that the city created a summer program that is available to all students, but want to make sure that all students have meaningful access, which includes having a program that is convenient for them, or having transportation,” she said. Read article

06.23.2021 | Chalkbeat NY | “We are encouraged that the [education department] expanded the number of students who are eligible for bus service for the instructional part of the day,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, which has raised concerns about the busing policies. But “if you’re forcing students with disabilities or students who live in shelter to leave hours before their peers, you’re not running an inclusive program.” 

Levine said that if the city can’t offer bus service at the end of the day, they should pay for a car service. Read article

06.17.2021 | Univision | Este jueves, un grupo de padres de familia llegó hasta las instalaciones del Departamento de Educación en Nueva York (NYCDOE) para pedir mejoras en el sistema de enseñanza, particularmente para menores con necesidades especiales y aquellos que estudian inglés, unos de los más afectados con las clases a distancia durante la crisis por el coronavirus. “Este tiempo ha sido muy estresante, uno siente que no sabe y no tiene la información”, señaló una madre que participó en la movilización. Watch video

06.16.2021 | NPR | "It's not fair," says Chrystal Bell, a mother in New York City whose son, Caleb, is deaf, blind and nonverbal. "He requires a lot extra just to achieve a little bit of the same." 

A class action complaint filed in late 2020 against the New York City and State Departments of Education said much the same: "Defendants have already publicly acknowledged that compensatory services should be available for those students with disabilities who were denied their instruction and services during remote learning. Nonetheless, eight months into the pandemic, Defendants have offered no hint of a plan for processing and delivering upon claims for compensatory services owed to tens of thousands of New York City students, whose losses continue to accrue." Read article

06.09.2021 | WBAI | Dawn Yuster, director of AFC's School Justice Project, joined Leonie Haimson on her show 'Talk out of School' to discuss our new report on police interventions in New York City Department of Education schools, and the comprehensive mental health supports we need to invest in. Listen to the episode