Teach NYS ads call on New York City Council members to pass tuition-loan program for special-needs students

Long and costly delays have undermined the program; currently, only 8% of all students with disabilities benefit from tuition reimbursements.

New York City Councilman Justin Brannan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
New York City Councilman Justin Brannan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Teach NYS launched a new set of ads this week calling on New York City Council members and Mayor Eric Adams to support legislation (#0957) that will provide loans to cover tuition costs for special-needs students while schools await reimbursement payments from the city. It offers interest-free loans for eligible schools, as long as they are repaid in a timely manner. The legislation also includes measures to ensure oversight of schools participating in the program.

The ads are supported by a six-figure media buy and will be served on Facebook and YouTube, as well as geo-targeted websites in the districts of a majority of New York City Council members, including Speaker Adrienne Eadie Adams.

The media buy has been covered in the New York Post

“Finally, there is relief in sight for a problem that has plagued our education system for too many years. It is unacceptable that bureaucratic delays are hindering schools’ ability to serve students with disabilities. With this first round of ads, we are calling on council members to take action. Supporting this bill will be a major step in shattering the logjam and giving every student in New York the opportunity to thrive. Thank you, Councilmember [Justin] Brannan for leading this fight, now let’s make it a reality this year,” said Sydney Altfield, executive director of Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union. 

According to federal law, parents and guardians may place their children in independent schools if the government is not able to offer a fair and appropriate education in a public institution. Under a system first launched by the Bill de Blasio administration, the city committed to working with families whose children with disabilities are best met in independent schools, with tuition reimbursed by the City’s Department of Education.

However, long and costly delays have undermined the program; currently, only 8% of all students with disabilities are benefiting from its tuition reimbursements.

Watch Ads: 30 Second and 60 Second Versions (script below)

200,000—that’s the number of Students with Special Needs in New York City.

Unfortunately, our public school system is leaving too many of them behind.

Under federal law, if the City isn’t able to offer a free and appropriate education, parents have the right to place their children in independent schools.

But only 8% of students with learning disabilities are participating in the program.

The current system is complex, time-consuming and costly.

Bureaucratic delays are forcing many hardworking parents to simply give up.

But help is on the way.

A new bill sponsored by Council Member Justin Brannan creates a loan fund that will bridge the gap, making sure that students can be placed in schools that meet their needs.

The bill would ensure tuition is paid on time at no additional cost to parents or taxpayers.

It will cut red tape and help working families. Now let’s make it a reality.

Tell your Council Member and Mayor Adams to support this bill.

It’s time to give all children with special needs the education they deserve.

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Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union (OU), or Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.
Teach NYS, a division of Teach Coalition, has a goal to solve the tuition crisis facing the nonpublic school community. Teach Coalition advocates for equitable government funding for nonpublic schools and counts over 200 schools nationwide as official members. Through direct application assistance, political advocacy, and grassroots activism, Teach Coalition is committed to making nonpublic schools better, safer and more affordable.
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