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AFC in the News

09.15.2020 | Center for NYC Affairs | At a time when teachers and principals are debating Covid-19 safety guidelines, scrambling to fulfil staffing mandates, planning hybrid in-class and remote learning schedules, and contesting the DOE's assessments of windows that won't open and HVAC systems that don't work, the City hasn't answered a crucial question, says Yuster from Advocates for Children: Where's the help for students with serious mental health needs?

"We absolutely appreciate the City's proclaimed commitment to social-emotional learning, but we haven't seen or heard of any plans for providing direct mental health services," Yuster says. "The City has proven they can figure out really creative way to get money to pull together trainings. Those resources should be directed toward helping students, particularly students with significant mental health challenges."

 "If everyone involved – if all the adults in schools, in the City government, in the NYPD – if everyone could think of every interaction involving a student who has mental health needs as if it was their own child, I think we would all be doing things really differently," Yuster continues. "We would be doing right by our students." Read article

09.14.2020 | NY Times | “We are extremely concerned that students already went months with little learning happening and that the learning loss will only continue unless the city steps up,” said Randi Levine, the policy director at Advocates for Children of New York, a research and legal group. “For students who are homeless, it feels like we are in a similar place that we were in the spring.” Read article

09.13.2020 | The Daily | At the end of August, Randi Levine, the policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, expressed disbelief about the lack of planning for homeless students. “It’s shocking how little is in place for students in shelter,” she wrote in an email. “Many are starting the school year with no internet for remote learning, no bus to get to school and no child care for days when their parents are working. At a time when the city should be doing everything possible to support students in shelter, it is instead letting them fall even further behind.” Listen to the full episode

09.11.2020 | WCBS 880 | "It's going to be two teachers for the students when they are in person and then a third teacher working with them when they are just doing the remote part of their learning," Maggie Moroff, with Advocates for Children of New York, said. In normal times, the city has what's called "integrated co-teaching" that involves special education students with a special education teacher and general education students with a general education teacher in the same classroom. 

Moroff said it's the Department of Education's go-to model for inclusive education. She said, "When it works well, it brings the best of both worlds." But Moroff tells WCBS 880's Mack Rosenberg that there are new concern with that third teacher being added to the mix to handle the remote side of blended learning.

"The three teachers in that trio are gonna be working together to plan, which is interesting and it's a novel approach I think. If it works well, that's really interesting and encouraging. If it doesn't, that's problematic," Moroff said. "If you have teachers that work well together then it could definitely be successful. If you have teachers that are new to each other and are feeling pressed for time, planning and coordinating their efforts, I could see it being really problematic." Listen to the full story

09.10.2020 | New York Daily News | New Education Department guidance confirms that students in classes with a mix of special education and mainstream students who alternate between in-person and virtual learning will have only one teacher on days they’re remote — a seeming violation of the state law that requires two teachers for such courses. 

“It’s very, very clearly written into law that there need to be these two teachers, one general education one special education, working collaboratively" in the mixed classes — known as “ICT” classes — said Maggie Moroff, the special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children. “We have always escalated concerns to the DOE when we got word of a class with only one teacher...to see it now written out very clearly that it’s going to be sanctioned is a definite violation of the state regulations,” Moroff added. Read article

09.09.2020 | The New York Times Magazine | At the end of August, Randi Levine, the policy director of Advocates for Children of New York, expressed disbelief about the lack of planning for homeless students. “It’s shocking how little is in place for students in shelter,” she wrote in an email. “Many are starting the school year with no internet for remote learning, no bus to get to school and no child care for days when their parents are working. At a time when the city should be doing everything possible to support students in shelter, it is instead letting them fall even further behind.” Read article

09.09.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Advocates said they were glad to hear the mayor’s commitment to restarting the bus system, but are watching closely to see what will be. 

“Parents will be relieved to hear the mayor’s promise that bus service will be in place for the start of the school year,” said Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children. “Given the difficulties families often experience with bus service at the start of each year, we know the DOE has a lot of work to do in the coming week to ensure bus service runs smoothly.” Read article

09.08.2020 | NY1 | Kim Sweet, the executive director for Advocates for Children of New York, told NY1 the biggest point of friction for schools in the coming week will be transportation. 

“About 50,000 students with disabilities, along with students who are homeless or in foster care, have a legal right to transportation to school. And families still don’t know how their children are going to get to school once they start, so that is a huge outstanding issue,” she said on “Mornings On 1.”

“The routing is going to be more complicated than ever because different students are going on different days. Also families are really going to want to know what the protocols are going to be on the buses to keep their students safe,” Sweet continued. Watch video

09.04.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | Randi Levine, the policy director at Advocates for Children, said it’s encouraging that the department has made strides since last week, but she worries about the start of the school year. “We’re glad to hear there’s been progress in moving contracts forward,” she wrote in an email. “But parents need to know that there will be buses in place for the first day of school.” Read article

09.04.2020 | Gothamist | Maggie Moroff, a special education policy coordinator at Advocates for Children, told NY1, "A lot of the students that Advocates for Children works with, if they don’t have busing, they can’t get to school and they don’t have the option of taking a cab. They really need the busing in place if they have disabilities, if they’re kids in foster care, if they’re kids who are homeless. We’re very worried." Read article