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AFC in the News

11.10.20 | The 74 | Advocates for special education students are especially interested in the class size numbers for those learners. At an Oct. 23 City Council hearing, Advocates for Children testified that the DOE had violated state limits on class sizes for special needs students in self-contained classes, and that they had received complaints about the size of inclusion classes, where special needs students learn alongside their mainstream peers. Read article

11.07.2020 | NY Post | The news was welcomed by Advocates for Children, a nonprofit organization that has highlighted the Wi-Fi problem for needy kids. 

“We should explore all options because the alternative is children missing out on school this year, and that is not acceptable,” said Randi Levine, the group’s policy director. Read article

11.06.2020 | Qns.com | “A student who lost weeks of instructional time because they lacked needed technology for remote learning would still be considered ‘fully’ served for the purposes of this report if they had been in a special education class prior to the closure of school buildings, as would a student who received little or no live instruction from a teacher from March through June,” said Advocates for Children Executive Director Kim Sweet. “The data also do not capture the significant regression many students experienced because their special education supports simply did not translate online.” Read article

11.05.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | “Extending these exemptions through August 2021 would allow students and educators to focus on the work of teaching and learning, confident that students who meet all other graduation requirements will not lose their chance to earn a diploma because of COVID-19,” said Ashley Grant, director of the Coalition of Multiple Pathways, which has advocated for eliminating Regents exams as a graduation requirement, in a statement. Read article

11.05.2020 | NY Daily News | Advocates who have long pushed the state to ease the Regents-related graduation requirements — and who say the testing rules are especially problematic during the pandemic — applauded the decision to nix the January test and urged officials to cancel the June and August exams as well. 

“We remain extremely concerned about whether Regents exams can be safely and fairly administered at all this school year, and educators and young people need to be able to plan now for the year ahead,” said Ashley Grant, the director of the Postsecondary Readiness Project at Advocates for Children. Read article

11.06.2020 | Univision Neuva York | El reporte anual del Departamento de Educación indica que los pequeños con discapacidades no pudieron recibir los recursos que necesitan debido a la pandemia, lo que ha afectado su aprendizaje. La organización Advocates for Children pide a las autoridades escolares identificar qué alumnos no los recibieron y desarrollar un plan con servicios compensatorios para ellos. Watch video

11.04.2020 | Gothamist | Maggie Moroff, special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York, said her organization is pushing the city to more directly measure, and address, the gaps in services and learning for special education students during the pandemic.

"We are obviously worried that the kids that were making progress are now going to see regression in their development,” Moroff said, adding that city data shows a nearly 27% decline in the number of initial referrals for special education evaluation. “We’re worried that some kids who should be getting services for the first time this fall are not, because they did not get evaluations.” Read article

11.04.2020 | amNY | By Scott Stringer, NYC Comptroller and Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York: Each day during the pandemic, 13,000 students in New York City’s homeless shelters attempt to join Zooms with their teachers and log in to Google Classroom to obtain the education that is their right. But for too many of these students, the challenge is not a math problem or an essay, but accessing their classes in the first place. Of the more than 200 shelters housing children across the five boroughs, only a handful have internet access — leaving many children who already have faced tremendous loss and disruption also cut off from instruction, cut off from classwork and homework, and cut off from their teachers and their peers. 

We need a plan to immediately connect students in our family shelters to the instruction they need. Drawing on our recent experience during the pandemic, together we have outlined recommendations to expedite the delivery of critical Internet service and avoid massive learning loss for children who are already contending with immense disparities. Read article

11.03.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Dawn Yuster, director of the School Justice Project at Advocates for Children New York, said the reduction in suspension length is “particularly notable” and is reflective of the education department’s revamp of the discipline code. She hoped the city’s plan to expand mental health supports in school communities hardest hit by the pandemic will lead to fewer disciplinary actions this school year.

Still, Yuster was concerned that the average length for a superintendent suspension hovered just above 11 days.

“I think there is still a lot of work to be done to reduce the amount of time that students are spending outside of school and not learning and losing days of instruction,” Yuster said. Read article

11.03.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | “Their numbers were improving, and then everything got set back,” said Maggie Moroff, a special education policy expert at Advocates for Children, which focuses on students with special needs. “What we don’t know is a whole lot about what happened in those months after school buildings closed.” 

Before buildings shut down on March 16, nearly 83% of students with disabilities were receiving the correct services, such as a small class exclusively for students with disabilities, or a larger one with a mix of special education and general education students typically staffed by two teachers. That’s about two percentage points better than the same period the previous school year, though it also points to an enormous gap: 17% of students with disabilities — or nearly 32,000 children — were only receiving some of the specialized instruction they were entitled to or none at all. Read article