NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... February 2014

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

February is Black History Month ~ Then to Now

Black History Month
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 here 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 here.

For more information about the Common Core and the “Hear Our VOICE” campaign, click here.

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.

The 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 here.

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 here.

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 here

Self-Advocacy for Special Education Students

Self-Advocacy Online
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, click here.

Bill Would Allow Community Service as an Alternative Punishment for School Suspension

Suspension alternatives
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 here.

Child Safety Zones Advocacy

Child Safety Zone
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: commissioner@dot.ny.gov.

Advocate Against Overuse of Antibiotics

Blow the Whistle on Antibiotic Overuse!
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 here.

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 process.

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 Dr. Carpenter here.

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:
February 2014
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In the Spotlight
 

NYS PTA VOICE Campaign Update - Response to the Board of Regents

Hear Our VOICE! After a great deal of education and advocacy, including the many voices of our members, the Board of Regents has proposed certain changes to the Common Core Learning Standards rollout. While not completely satisfied with the outcome, some of the changes do speak directly to the NYS PTA’s five points as outlined in the Hear Our VOICE campaign. More needs to be done and we will continue to advocate to our legislators to realize greater improvement. We thank you all for your contributions thus far.

While the Board of Regents has recognized the value of feedback, policy makers are not hearing our VOICE on everything...

To read more, click here.
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“Advocacy is at the heart of PTA's mission and vision. Taking action provides both parents and PTA leaders with the resources to become more involved with their community at home and their community across the nation.”

Helping Your Student Plan for College and a Career

College and Career ReadyPreparation is the key to success in any task, and preparing for success in college and careers should start as early as possible. This is not a task that children can do alone: a parent’s guidance and direction is needed. And, it’s never too soon to start planning for a bright future.

Help your children take the right steps to apply for the college, university, or technical training program of their choice, so they can move forward on the path to a fulfilling career. For a list of things you can do together, click here.

New York State Citizen Preparedness Corps

Citizen Preparedness CorpsGovernor Cuomo has announced the development and outreach for a Citizen Preparedness Corps. The focus is to have more New Yorkers trained and prepared to deal with disasters. Trainings are occurring throughout NYS. For more information, go to prepare.ny.gov.

National Institutes of Health: News in Health

Doctors VisitThe February 2014 issue of News in Health has been released. The issue contains information about drug resistant bacteria, gout, distracted driving, caring for seriously ill children, drug abuse and teens. To read the newsletter, click here. To sign up for future newsletters, click here.

Funding and Award Opportunities

Funding OpportunitiesNational PTA Smart Community Outreach Grant targeting families of children ages 3-5. Grants are for $10,000 each. Application deadline March 28, 2014. Click here for more info.

The United States Environment Protection Agency Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. Applications due by February 28, 2014. For more info, click here.

Webinars/Conferences

WebinarEPA/NIEHS Children's Centers 2014 Webinar Series, March 12, 2014, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST. The webinar features presentations and interactive discussions including recent findings and new developments in children’s environmental health. To register, click here.

The NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee is excited to announce the 2014 New York State Safe Teen Driver Summit (May 2-3 at the Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark, Queensbury). The event, which is being conducted during Global Youth Traffic Safety Month and coordinated by the NYS Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, is designed to empower youth to develop a comprehensive plan for engaging their peers about the issue of safe, undistracted, controlled and sober driving. Teens in the 10th or 11th grade are invited to participate Contact Chuck Conroy at GTSC by e-mail: Chuck.Conroy@dmv.ny.gov.

Fill out the registration form on the GTSC Young Driver Toolkit Website here. Deadline to apply is Friday April 11, 2014.

US Department of Health and Human Services Health Consequences of Smoking

According to HHS, over the last 50 years, more than 20 million Americans have died from smoking. The Surgeon General has released a report called: The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 years of Progress. The focus is to improve public health and to reduce smoking rates to less than 10%. To read the report, click here.

The document specifically includes electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). However, it does indicate on page 750 increased useage of the e-cigarettes, which has doubled during the reporting period.

Preventing Abuse of Cough Treatments Act (PACT)

Stop Medicine Abuse Legislative Action CenterAccording to the Stop Medicine Abuse Legislative Action Center, 1 in 20 teens get high on over-the-counter cough medicine. There is currently a bill in Congress to address this concern. For more information and to advocate for bill sponsors, click here

nysed.gov
Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2014 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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