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Micaela is a dual-language learner who is on the autism spectrum and needed an appropriate school placement for kindergarten.

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04.10.2020 | MarketWatch | “We have serious concerns about the students who cannot access remote learning and students who are not able to demonstrate what they know through remote-learning platforms,” said Ashley Grant, a supervising staff attorney at the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New York. 

Another concern, she said, is that 21-year-old students who will age out of the K-12 school system in June may need more time to complete their coursework because of school closures and subsequent gaps in their learning. 

“It is critically important that schools have the resources to provide these young people with the academic and other support they need to finish high school and move on to college or career,” Grant said. Read article

04.08.2020 | Education Week | Even the New York board of education, after much debate, voted this week to waive the Regents exams required for many students earning diplomas in the state. “Because many students are still struggling to access remote learning, it will be critical—especially once the current crisis has passed—that schools have the resources to provide young people with the additional academic and other support they will need to leave high school prepared for college and careers,” said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children of New York. Read article

04.08.2020 | Politico NY | Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York, called the cuts "devastating" and wants the city and the City Council to ensure the 3K expansion continues. “We know that high-quality early childhood education programs make a significant difference for children from low-income backgrounds and we know that families were looking forward to applying 3K in the new districts," Levine said. Read article

04.07.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | A wide coalition of elected officials, community organizations, and parent leaders are asking for a seat at the table to guide decision-making while schools are closed due to the spread of the coronavirus — and whenever they finally reopen. 

More than 50 people and organizations signed onto a letter sent Tuesday to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, calling for a new COVID-19 task force to address disparities that have been ripped even wider due to the global pandemic. Read article

04.07.2020 | Gothamist | With the school year in turmoil, the state Education Department announced on Tuesday several changes to the graduation requirements including exempting the June Regents exam as a condition of high school graduation. Regents exams for students in lower grades have been canceled.

In a release, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, hailed the changes as a smart decision:

"This decision is good news for the thousands of students across New York State who are currently navigating unprecedented disruptions to their education. The guidance released today, which allows students in certain situations to demonstrate their readiness to graduate through passing course grades, ensures that students who are on track to earn a diploma will not be penalized for circumstances well beyond their control. Because many students are still struggling to access remote learning, it will be critical—especially once the current crisis has passed—that schools have the resources to provide young people with the additional academic and other support they will need to leave high school prepared for college and careers." Read article

04.07.2020 | Brooklyn Paper | “This is good news for students, particularly students scheduled to graduate this year,” said Ashley Grant, coordinator of Advocates for Children of New York’s Coalition for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma. “However, we know that many students, including high school seniors, are still struggling to access remote learning. To ensure that these young people are college and career ready, it will be critical that, after this crisis ends, schools provide opportunities for these students to access the learning opportunities they missed during school closures.” Read article

04.06.2020 | Chalkbeat NY | “Many students with disabilities will likely fall behind during the period of school closure,” wrote Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, in a letter Sunday to the Board of Regents. “Stopping the clock on special education service implementation for the entire period of school closure will only set these students back further.”

When asked about Advocates’ letter, Suriano said schools would still be held to federal requirements, which require services to be provided as soon as possible but don’t outline a specific timeline. Read article

04.06.2020 | NY Daily News | New York schools currently have 60 school days to provide services from when a student’s family agrees to an evaluation. With the new amendment, days when schools are closed under executive order from Gov. Cuomo won’t count toward that 60-day limit.

“Under that scenario, a child recently identified as needing speech therapy or counseling could go without these services for half a year while other students have the benefit of receiving these services via teletherapy,” wrote Advocates for Children, a group that works on behalf of disabled children, in a letter to the Board of Regents. Read article

04.06.2020 | BK Reader | An estimated 300,000 students lacked laptops or tablets to participate in online classes when public schools shut down over the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, the department has worked at a furious pace to obtain devices for those students, Randi Levine, policy director for Advocates for Children of New York, told BK Reader.

Devices are going out to students living in shelters, temporary housing and foster care, said Levine, whose organization advocates for students from low-income backgrounds.

“Unfortunately, there are students who still don’t have devices,” she said, adding that Advocates for Children recognizes that this is an unprecedented situation. Read article

03.30.2020 | NY1 | Meanwhile, advocates argue the schools ought to be open to another group: homeless students. Those who live in shelters often lack internet access, which is necessary for remote learning. But wifi is available at the centers. 

"They've lost their housing and now they've lost their schools as well. We can't open their schools today and provide them with that sense of stability, but we can provide them with a more appropriate space for learning," Randi Levine, policy director at Advocates for Children, said. 

The city has so far not opened the spaces to those students. Advocates say not every homeless child will take a seat, but that there's clearly plenty of room for those who need it.

"We want to make sure that families have that option and that families who need it are able to take one of those empty seats and have their child spend the day in a space where there is a teacher a social worker a nurse and enrichment activities as well as the internet and technology needed for remote learning," Levine said. Read article