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Paige’s Story

Paige, a bright third grade student on the autism spectrum, sat at home for nearly two months waiting for a school placement that would meet her needs. 

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cover of guide07.27.2017 | AFC has a new guide on the rights of students with disabilities facing discipline! Students with disabilities have special rights and protections when they are suspended from school or removed from class, and one of those rights is a meeting called a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR). This comprehensive guide explains what happens at an MDR, how to prepare for the meeting, what happens afterwards, and what parents can do if they disagree with the school’s decision.  

Read the English guide [PDF]
Read the Spanish Guide [PDF]





page 1 of data brief07.24.2017 | Today, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) released a data brief analyzing city and state data showing that English Language Learners (ELLs) are under-represented in career and technical education (CTE) programs at New York City high schools. Entitled Missed Potential: English Language Learners Under-Represented in NYC Career and Technical Education Programs, the brief examines ELL enrollment at schools that offer CTE, as well as their participation and completion rates in the CTE programs at those schools.

The paper offers a list of recommended steps the New York City Department of Education can take to begin to address barriers for ELLs, including resolving recruitment and enrollment issues, offering extra training for CTE instructors in serving ELLs, and providing classroom supports in CTE schools—such as bilingual CTE classes and translation and interpretation services. 

Read the data brief [PDF]
Read the press release [PDF]

06.19.2017 | Today, AFC sent a letter to the New York State Assembly and Senate, urging them to approve a long-term extension of mayoral control as a stand-alone bill that is not tied to other changes in education policy. View our letter [PDF]

guide cover06.16.2017 | AFC has a new guide for court-involved youth and their families! The guide (available in English and Spanish) includes a basic overview of the education rights of young people ages 7 to 21 in New York City who are or were involved in the juvenile or criminal justice system. It includes information about the education rights of youth in community and court-ordered settings (such as juvenile detention, juvenile placement, or Rikers Island). It also has information to help students transition back to school and find a school that meets the student’s needs. 

Read the English guide [PDF]
Read the Spanish guide [PDF]

05.25.2017 | Today AFC is testifying before the New York City Council about the Fiscal Year 2018 city budget proposal. We urge the Administration and City Council to increase funding for DOE social workers for students living in homeless shelters, Restorative Practices and other alternatives to school suspensions, and school accessibility. View testimony [PDF]

05.17.2017 | As the families of more than 190,000 immigrant students across New York State wrestle with the current climate of fear and uncertainty, a new report finds major inconsistencies in how New York’s school districts are responding and the extent to which they are rising to the challenge of protecting and supporting the immigrant students and families they are charged to serve.  

The report, Safe Havens: Protecting and Supporting New York State’s Immigrant Students  [PDF] — released today by The Education Trust–New York, Advocates for Children of New York, the New York Immigration Coalition and The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. — finds that while the New York State Education Department (SED) and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as several individual school districts, have taken a number of important steps, there is much more to do. 

Based on a review of documents from the 25 school districts that together enroll 80 percent of the state’s immigrant students, Safe Havens spotlights positive practices and troubling trends and highlights four critical areas where change is needed:

  • Welcoming all students regardless of immigration status or national origin. 
  • Collection and handling of personal information. 
  • Responding to federal immigration officials. 
  • Supporting students and families when a parent, family member, or guardian is at risk of deportation or has been deported. 

Drawing on the experiences of immigrant community-based organizations, advocates, and service providers, the report includes a set of recommendations for stronger supports at the state, school district and school levels. The report’s recommendations include that SED: assist school districts to provide greater support for immigrant students to ensure their long-term success; reiterate that questions about national origin should not be asked during the student registration process; encourage school districts to adopt — and in some cases, strengthen — their protocols for how to respond to any request for access by ICE; and reinforce the importance of providing social-emotional support. 

“The recommendations in Safe Havens provide a clear roadmap for steps that New York State and district leaders should take to ensure that immigrant students and their families feel safe and supported by public schools,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “We appreciate New York State’s and New York City’s efforts to date and believe that the recommendations in the report will assist school districts across New York in meeting the ongoing concerns of immigrant families.”

Read the report [PDF]

04.24.2017 | In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that the City will expand pre-K to three-year-old children starting with District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in Brownsville, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, released the following statement: 

“Having achieved universal pre-K access for four-year-old children, the City is now forging ahead with a plan to help younger children get a high-quality early childhood education.  This expansion will have a significant impact in providing children with the foundational skills needed for school success. We commend the Mayor for taking another important step toward narrowing the achievement gap.”

View statement as a PDF

03.21.2017 | Today AFC testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education on the fiscal year 2018 Preliminary Budget. We urge the Administration to include increased funding for DOE social workers for students living in homeless shelters. In addition, we request that the budget include additional resources to expand restorative practices and pilot a mental health support continuum in 20 high-needs schools. View our testimony [PDF]

02.14.2017 | Today, AFC is testifying at the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2017-18 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget proposal, urging legislators to invest in education initiatives such as improved access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs for students with disabilities and English Language Learners, the development of performance-based assessments, positive approaches to discipline, and prekindergarten. View our testimony [PDF]

02.10.2017 | The following is a statement by Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York, on today’s release of New York Graduation Rates for the Class of 2016: 

We are alarmed by the precipitous drop in English Language Learner (ELL) graduation rates and the sharp increase in ELL drop-out rates for the Class of 2016 in New York City. Only 30.8 percent of New York City ELLs graduated by August 2016 as compared to 40.5 percent of ELLs in 2015, representing a drop of more than 9.7 percentage points. Equally troubling, the drop-out rate for ELLs in New York City has grown 5.5 percentage points, from 21.5 percent to 27.0 percent over the past year. The new data shows that both New York City and New York State urgently need to double down on efforts to improve instruction for ELLs so that they can achieve their potential and graduate with a high school diploma. The decline in ELL graduation rates in New York City is particularly concerning given the fact that the New York City Department of Education has been under a New York State Education Department-imposed Corrective Action Plan for several years now as a result of the City's failure to serve ELLs appropriately. While we very much appreciate recent statements by state and city leaders indicating that immigrant students and ELLs are welcome in New York’s classrooms, they need to do a better job at both levels of government of providing for equitable access to instruction and services that will set these students up for academic success.

We also remain concerned about the sizeable gap between the graduation rates of students with disabilities and their general education peers, with 44.8 percent of students with disabilities in New York City’s Class of 2016 graduating by August as compared to 78.5 percent of their general education peers. Similarly, the statewide graduation gap also remains wide, with only 54.9 percent of students with disabilities graduating in 2016, as compared to 86.3 percent of their general education peers. Although these gaps have narrowed slightly over the past year, both New York State and New York City must step up their game to provide students with disabilities with the supports that they need in order to graduate from high school.

View statement as a PDF