NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... January 2015

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

In This Issue

In the Spotlight
In the Spotlight...
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The Education Scene Heats Up

NYS Education Building
In a 20-page letter, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and soon-to-be acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin offered a host of proposals that would dramatically change education policy in New York State.

The letter, a response to a series of pointed questions from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, is the first comprehensive look at the changes that the Board of Regents and State Education Department are willing to support as the Governor continues to push for controversial changes to the way teachers are hired, fired and evaluated. The letter includes proposals around school funding, improving school integration, and passing the DREAM Act.

While some of the changes were in direct response to issues raised by Governor Cuomo’s office, others were unsolicited. Click here for details.

Read all of Governor Cuomo’s questions to Chancellor Tisch and Dr. King (as outlined in a letter by his Director of State Operations, Jim Malatras) here, and the complete letter in response from Chancellor Tisch and Acting Commissioner Berlin, here. Click here to read the NYS PTA response to this letter.

State Leaders Confront K-12 Issues

Student taking a test
After a strong showing by Republicans in state-level elections last month, lawmakers and governors—new and re-elected—are turning their attention to the 2015 legislative sessions, where such issues as common standards, testing and school choice are likely to dominate the education policy debate.

Added to the political mix is a generally improving economic climate. This could turn up the heat on lawmakers in many states to raise K-12 spending, at a time when some are already re-examining how they allocate money for public schools.

Click here for the full article. 

ESEA Under Fire

In the continuous discussions of revising the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the national Republican leadership is proposing changes in the scope and timing of federally mandated student testing.
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also called for overhaul of the ESEA, although with different goals.

The ESEA is long overdue for a complete revision and adoption, and these proposals are a glimpse into possible discussions in Washington.

To read more, visit:

Special Education News

Disability at work
It’s a sobering fact with significant impact on youth with disabilities: as they enter the work force, they earn 37 percent less (or only 63 cents for every dollar) than their typically-developing peers do. Even those who have a high school diploma earn $6,500 less per year. This is why it continues to be important to advocate for PTA’s position that students with disabilities must have a valuable high school diploma. The data comes from the US Census and disabilitystatistics.org.

Among the good news in December was the passage of the ABLE Act, a law that will allow people with disabilities to open special accounts, modeled after 529 college savings plans, to pay for education and other expenses. While this is a great first step, some issues remain to be taken care of before we feel the full impact of the law. Each state now has to put regulations in effect so that the accounts can be set up. See “ABLE Accounts: 10 Things You Must Know” here. More information will follow as the process continues.

Common Core Standards Shift the Look of Learning

Elementary school classroom
These controversial learning standards have transformed the way the nation’s youngest students are taught even the most basic of subjects.

For the complete story from the Buffalo News, click here.

Did You Know, We Have an App for That?

NYS PTA Mobile App NYS PTA now has a Mobile Phone App that we launched just before Convention! If you haven't downloaded it yet, please go to your iTunes or Google Play store and search for “NYS PTA”. You gain access to news, our Resource Guide, advocacy news, directory information, the PTA Online Store, Capwiz, Bylaws EZ, events and much more.

If you are on the PTA website from your mobile phone or tablet, you can click on the logos from the home page located in the lower left column.

Governor Cuomo Announces Draft of Medical Marijuana Regulations

Medical marijuana
Governor Cuomo has released proposed regulations for the Compassionate Care Act medical marijuana program. Read more here.

DEA Bans Three New Strains of Synthetic Marijuana (K2, Spice)

Synthetic Marijuana
At the last NYS PTA Convention, the Herbal Cigarettes Resolution was updated to include the synthetic cannabinoid Spice. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has added an additional three new strains of synthetic marijuana to their list of banned substances. Classifying these drugs as Schedule I drugs is considered “necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public.”

FDA Tells Consumers to Avoid Miracle Solution

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a strong advisory to consumers against the use of Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a product marketed as a treatment for autism, cancer and other serious diseases.

According to the FDA, MMS “produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach,” that when used as directed “can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.”

The FDA warns: “Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away.”

Learn more about MMS warnings and misleading claims:
January 2015
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In the Spotlight

White House Facts on Cybersecurity

Student Privacy
On January 12, the White House released a fact sheet that outlines the Obama Administration’s initiatives for ways to protect the American people from cyber threats and to safeguard data privacy.

National PTA has been actively engaged in the debate over data privacy (specifically student data privacy), and has been involved in several working groups that seek to address the issue. 

To read more, click here.

Parents: Tips To Help Your Child Complete the FAFSA

If you’re a parent of a college-bound child, the financial aid process can seem a bit overwhelming. Who’s considered the parent? Who do you include in household size? How do assets and tax filing fit into the process? Does this have to be done every year?

These are some common questions parents have when helping their children prepare and pay for college or career school.

For answers, click here.

Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project

Kids Safe and Healthful Foods Project
“The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, provides nonpartisan analysis and evidence-based recommendations on policies that affect the safety and healthfulness of school foods.”

To stay up to date on advocacy for healthy school foods, sign up for Kids’ Safe and Healthful Food updates here.

Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Math Literacy
Math at Home builds the knowledge and skills of families, teachers and home care providers so that they can:
• Set up environments that promote math literacy.
• Facilitate math activities and lessons for young children.
• Learn about mathematical concepts necessary for teaching young children.

Visit: www.mathathome.org.

Literacyhead is a teaching website where literacy instruction and art are excitingly combined. It doesn't get any better than combining the fun of art with the learning of literacy. Wow!

To be a Literacyhead means to be “intensely serious about exercising creative literacy, making connections across multiple literacies, pursuing thoughtful literacy as an individual and as a teacher, and constantly searching for ideas.” Find good ideas and resources at: www.literacyhead.com.

For free reading posters and bookmarks that may be printed, shared and used with students, click here.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Human Trafficking Awareness Month
The NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) continues its anti-trafficking efforts by providing these tips: “If someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you suspect a minor is being trafficked or otherwise abused, neglected or maltreated, call New York’s Statewide Central Register (child abuse hotline) at 1-800-342-3720. If you have a tip about a trafficking situation, would like more information about human trafficking, or want to learn about how you can help, call the toll-free National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text INFO or HELP to 233733 (BeFree).

According to OCFS, “A victim of human trafficking is a person who is forced, tricked or coerced into performing commercial sex acts, or is compelled to perform labor or services for someone else. A victim of trafficking can be American or foreign-born, and can be any age, sex or ethnicity.” For more, click here.

New York State Summer School of the Arts: 2015 School of Dance

NYS Summer School for the Arts
Here is an opportunity for students to audition for New York State Summer School of the Arts. Click here for individual dance audition deadlines during January and February.

NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Dating Abuse Website

Love is Respect
Respect Love, Love Respect is a youth-friendly website designed to increase awareness and educate teens and young adults on dating abuse, promote healthy relationships, and empower youth to take action: respectlove.opdv.ny.gov.

Citizen Preparedness Trainings

Citizen Preparedness Training
New York is still holding citizen preparedness trainings. It is important for all community members to know how to be prepared in any type of event (environmental or technological).

To sign up for trainings, click here. You can also sign up for emergency alerts here.

2015 Wellness Calendar

Wellness Toolkit
The Wellness Calendar has been updated for January-June 2015. Please check out the calendar with all the events celebrated throughout the country regarding health, wellness, juvenile protection and safety, and environment. Use this calendar as a means of bringing forth important issues to members of your local community.

Click here for the updated calendar.

Book Recommendation of the Month

… is Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley. This book continues the conversation begun in The Book Whisperer, with a focus on creating lifelong readers and fostering a love for reading.
Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2015 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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