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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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09.20.2016 | Today, AFC submitted comments to the New York City Department of Education regarding proposed changes to Chancellor’s Regulation A-101 regarding school transfers, admissions, and enrollment. Read our comments [PDF]

09.07.2016 | At Advocates for Children of New York, we are gearing up for the first day of school, a moment that invites us to reflect on what we do and how we want to impact the world around us. Each new school year brings new demands but also new opportunities to use our resources and expertise to improve the lives of children in New York City and across New York State. 

This summer started with a June and July that highlighted some of the terrible problems facing our society. Forty-nine people were murdered at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Communities across the country erupted in protest as two more videos showed men of color -- Alton Sterling and Philando Castile -- being killed in police shootings. And anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric continued to dominate the national political stage. 

For many of the young people we serve, gun violence, police brutality, racism, and prejudice are ever-present concerns. They have to navigate this treacherous terrain as they grow up and go to school; despite all that is going on around them, they have to feel safe enough to be able to learn and optimistic enough about their future to be motivated to try. When they encounter roadblocks to an appropriate education, it is critically important that they and their families have somewhere to turn for assistance. As an organization dedicated for 45 years to eradicating barriers to education based on factors like poverty, race, disability, and national origin, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to provide young people with the support they need to meet the challenges of their current environment and emerge with the education they need to live full and productive lives. 

As we prepare for the start of a new school year, we re-affirm our commitment to advocate for the children who most need our help to succeed in school -- the children whom the school system does not serve well for a variety of reasons, ranging from overt prejudice to implicit bias, from under-funded programs to inadequately trained staff. In the coming year, we will be expanding our advocacy for students who are LGBTQ and students who experience bullying. We will strengthen our partnerships with organizations serving NYC's diverse immigrant communities, including families that speak Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese. And we will continue our work to stop the school-to-prison pipeline by, for example, fighting for access to early childhood education, demanding appropriate support and services for students with disabilities, and advocating for students involved with the court system to get their education back on track. 

Thank you for your partnership and support as we work together towards a brighter future for New York's children. We're looking forward to a great year! 

Sincerely,
kim signature
Kim Sweet
Executive Director

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08.25.2016 | The first day of school is Thursday, September 8! In preparation, we've updated our back-to-school fact sheet for families of students with disabilities, which covers concerns that typically come up at this time of year, such as what to do if a child does not yet have a school assignment or the school assigned says they cannot serve the child’s needs; how to find an accessible school; and arranging for specialized transportation. View the fact sheet in English [PDF] and Spanish [PDF]. 

If you have additional questions or need assistance, please call AFC’s Education Helpline: (866) 427-6033, Monday—Thursday, 10am—4pm.

08.08.2016 | This evening, AFC is testifying at the DOE’s hearing on proposed changes to the Discipline Code. Our testimony focuses on the proposals to ban suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade, require schools to document supports and interventions used, and expand the options for the length of suspensions. View testimony [PDF].

05.24.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying about the city budget before the City Council Committee on Finance, asking that the final budget include increased funding for DOE social workers for students living in shelters and for restorative justice programs. View testimony [PDF]

05.19.2016 | As the New York State Senate Education Committee holds a hearing today on mayoral control of New York City schools, Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), released the following statement supporting a long-term extension of mayoral control: 

As a watchdog agency working to protect the rights of students, we know that there is substantial room for improvement in our public schools. But we also know that mayoral control has led to an infusion of attention and resources that has produced results for our City’s students and schools. Having monitored the City’s school system before and after mayoral control went into effect, we strongly support a long-term extension of mayoral control.

By various indicators, we have seen steady improvement in student outcomes under mayoral control. We have seen these gains for the student population as a whole as well as for subgroups of students such as students with disabilities. We have also seen mayoral initiatives, like Pre-K for All and the expansion of community schools, which would not have been possible without the ability to marshal the resources of various city agencies.

We have not agreed with every decision that Mayor Bloomberg or Mayor de Blasio has made about our City’s schools. But we agree that the mayor, as the City’s top elected leader, should be responsible for the education of the City’s students.

The question about mayoral control should focus not on who is mayor but on how we build an education system that best serves children. Mayoral control in New York City has a track record of producing results for students. We urge the State Legislature to approve a long-term extension of mayoral control.

View press statement [PDF]
View testimony submitted to the New York State Senate Education Committee [PDF]

04.19.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying before the New York City Council Committees on Education and Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services about the need to make certain that our public schools are prepared to provide all students, including those with dyslexia and other disabilities, with appropriate, evidence-based literacy instruction. View our full testimony [PDF]

03.31.2016 | On Thursday, April 14, AFC's Junior Board and NYU Law School's Education Law and Policy Society will hold a panel on technology and education equity. The event is free, but please register in advance if you plan on attending. 

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03.14.2016 | AFC presented this white paper, Discipline for Students with Disabilities: Support Rather than Exclusion, the national conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). The paper discusses the rights of students with disabilities to behavioral supports, and individual and systemic advocacy strategies that provide support for students with disabilities instead of excluding them from school. View white paper [PDF]

01.27.2016 | Today, AFC is testifying at the New York State Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2016-2017 Elementary and Secondary Education Budget proposal, urging legislators to increase investments in education programs such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), prekindergarten, and support for English Language Learners (ELLs). Earlier this week, AFC also submitted testimony on the 2016-2017 Health Budget proposal, urging legislators to reject a budget proposal to restructure the Early Intervention screening and evaluation process and to increase funding for home visiting programs. View our Education Budget testimony [PDF] and our Health Budget testimony [PDF].