February is Black History Month ~ Then to Now
Black History Month reflects on and honors the African-American experience
from the times of slavery through the present.
Everywhere you look, black culture, talent and expression have played an
enormous role in shaping America’s past and present. Click
for a timeline and to learn more.
NYS PTA Common Core Parent Survey Report
In spite of NYS PTA’s support for the benefits of Common Core-based reform,
we received continuous feedback from parent members that NYS Education
Department implementation strategies caused serious concerns on the part of
parents and frustration for their children.
Our first effort in addressing these concerns led to an examination of state
and local testing policies, resulting in positions on high-stakes testing.
When feedback continued to deepen in the wake of state testing in April of
2013, we decided to survey member opinions on the Common Core Learning
Standards, student testing and the use of test results as part of an effort
to develop 2013-14 advocacy priorities.
The report may be accessed by visiting the NYS PTA website or by clicking
For more information about the Common Core and the “Hear Our VOICE”
Written Public Comment on the IDEA Part B Application
Each year, New York is required to provide to the federal government those
items in state law or regulations that differ from federal ones. This also
includes areas where NYS requirements go beyond federal requirements.
state uses this documentation when looking to provide mandate relief.
Written public comment on the IDEA Part B Application will be accepted for
30 calendar days as required by federal law, starting February 17, 2014. To
read more, click
Special Education Impartial Hearings
The Board of Regents has adopted amendments to the Regulations of the
Commissioner of Education that addresses issues regarding special education
impartial hearings. The effective date was February 1, 2014. Read the memo
Tracking Devices for Kids with Autism
Last week, the federal government announced that they will pay for tracking
devices for kids with autism who are at risk for wandering/elopement. Local
law enforcement agencies can apply for funding under the Department of
Justice Byrne Grant Program.
Funding could go to pay for the tracking devices and provide
education/training related to the issues of wandering. Descriptions of some
of the programs can be found
Self-Advocacy for Special Education Students
An important skill for all students to develop is being able to advocate for
themselves. This is extremely necessary for special education students. This
link has some great resources for both kids and their parents; to read,
Bill Would Allow Community Service as an Alternative Punishment
for School Suspension
Instead of suspending a student from school for misbehavior, two legislators
have introduced a bill that would allow school administrators to use
community service as an alternative punishment. To read more, click
Child Safety Zones Advocacy
As you may recall from the December “Fast Facts,” advocacy has begun on
updating NYS Department of Transportation Child Safety Zones. This past
month, PTA members from Massapequa Jr/Sr's Resolution Committee, Lucille
Vitale, Allison Prystupa, Susan Altamura and NYS PTA Consultant Richard
Ahola, attended a meeting with NYS DOT on January 24 in Albany. They met
with the Director of External Affairs Diane Lombardi and the Director of the
Traffic Operations Bureau David Wooden to discuss the newly adopted
resolution, “Revising the NYS DOT Child Safety Zone Point System.”
Much discussion took place regarding why roads over four lanes are given the
same points as roads of four lanes when determining a Child Safety Zone. This
question will now be proposed to the DOT's Safety Group. To advocate for the
revision of the regulations to add points for roads over four lanes, write
to New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner McDonald at:
Advocate Against Overuse of Antibiotics
PEW Charitable Trusts have been advocating and supporting a number of issues
important to NYS PTA. They are currently asking for the Food and Drug
Administration to close the loopholes in its policies regarding antibiotic
overuse in animals. This also connects with NYS PTA position on antibiotics.
To join in this effort and write to your federal legislators, click
Healthy Schools Network: Conference Call, February 3, 2014
David Carpenter, M.D., Director, Institute for Health and the Environment
University at Albany spoke on the dangers of radio frequency in our
“wireless” environment in the schools. Dr. Carpenter provided information on
the current studies being done in the U.S. as well as around the world. His
concern was that of the potential ill effects from the increased exposure of
the radio frequencies pending the additional wireless networks in the
schools. Reports indicate we are exposed to electromagnetic fields on a
regular basis and it is with the new technology and unprotected
“frequencies” that are of concern.
What are radio frequencies or RF?
They are under the umbrella of
electromagnetic fields. They are on the side of low frequency as opposed to
the X-Rays, Cosmic Rays and Gamma Rays which are high frequency and can
damage DNA. Low frequency RF have low energy and should not damage DNA.
Sources of RF:
Radios, Televisions, Microwave Ovens, Cell Phones, Computers,
Wi-Fi, Smart Meters, Cell Towers, Satellite Stations. Cell Towers are
reported as the highest, followed by hand-held cell phones and then DECT
phones with regard to exposure of RF.
Potential Dangers of RF:
Brain Cancer and Leukemia. The danger is
questionably higher related to the exposure raising the temperature of the
body tissue. Leukemia appears to be more related to exposure around cell
towers and Brain Cancer with long term cell phone use. The latency of
development for brain cancer is ~ 20-30 years and we have not yet reached
that period, so there is a concern of a drastic rise in cases in the next
few years. Currently there are no studies to link Wi-Fi with a disease
Recommendations for the Community:
Avoid carrying a cell phone in their
pockets as it may decrease sperm counts in men or possible ill effects to a
fetus in a pregnant woman. Avoid holding your phone too close to your skin
as the heat will raise the temperature of the tissue thus potentially
increasing risks. Use wired devices when possible. Avoid frequent presence
near cell towers.
For additional information, please see a recent publication from
More links on radio frequency exposure:
The Problems of Youth STDs, HIV, AIDS and Teenage Pregnancy are
Still With Us
Please consider the following facts regarding STDs
and pregnancy as reported by the AIDS
Institute of the NYSDOH:
- One in four adolescents are likely to acquire an STD. This rises by one
in two for sexually active people by age 25.
- Chlamydia is the most commonly reported communicable disease in New York
State. 100,000 cases were reported in 2010. Statistics show nearly three out
of four cases are ages 16-24 and one of three are aged 15-19.
- Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in New York State with
18,000 cases reported in 2010. Two out of three of these cases were aged 15-24.
- There were 3,732 newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in 2011. One in
five cases were individuals under the age of 25.
- In 2011,there were 13,859 births to women 19 years of age or younger, with 30% of
this group aged 17 or younger.
More informational links: