NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... February 15, 2013

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

NYS Stiffens Gun Legislation

In response to the Newtown, CT shootings, New York became the first state to strengthen gun regulations when the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act became law in January. Both NYS and National PTA have voiced support for stronger controls on assault weapons and other gun-related threats to children’s safety. Among other provisions, the SAFE Act:
  • increases restrictions on assault weapons;
  • expands background checks before gun purchases;
  • reduces the maximum number of rounds in a magazine to 7;
  • creates a state registry and background check for most private gun sales;
  • requires background checks and a database for bullet sales;
  • increases penalties for shooting first responders and committing other gun crimes; and
  • requires mental health providers to report a patient who appears to pose a threat to himself or to the public.
Click here to read more.

Focus on Farming

USDA Farm to School Grants Available
As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, USDA Farm to School Grants connect schools with local farmers, ranchers and food businesses to bring healthy, local food to school cafeterias. Up to $5 million in grants is offered nationwide. The request for grant applications has gone out, and in March the USDA will host a series of webinars on the application process. All proposals are due by April 24, 2013. Click here for more information.
There is also an interactive view of the USDA programs at Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass here.

Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming
As much as 70% of antibiotics used in the US are fed to healthy livestock to promote faster growth and prevent illnesses caused by the unsanitary conditions in which industrial farm animals often live. Last year the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming brought concerned parents from across the country to Washington, DC to urge decision-makers to end the overuse of antibiotics for farm animals, which threatens their effectiveness for human health. Parent advocates were also provided the tools they need to educate others and inspire them to take action.

The Campaign now calls for moms, dads and caregivers to take part in “Supermoms Against Superbugs Advocacy Day” on April 16, 2013 (airfare, hotel and food included). The application deadline is March 1; click here to apply.

Health and Wellness News

Binge Drinking Under-recognized Among Women and Girls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls binge drink, increasing their risk of breast cancer, heart disease, STDs and unintended pregnancy.” The good news is that communities have the power to change this picture. Click here for more info.

“Everybody Knows Somebody” is the theme of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 24-March 2. Find out more here.

Change for the Good
A recent study published in the journal Obesity evaluates the impact of statewide childhood obesity prevention policies in New York’s Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). "Changing WIC Changes What Children Eat" shows a positive connection between the new WIC food package and a decline in obesity and overweight among children enrolled in the program. New York was the first state to make changes to add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and provide only low or non-fat milk for children 2-4 years old. More about the WIC program can be found here.

Overdose Prevention and Treatment Program Saves Lives
According to a study by the Boston Medical Center, communities that implemented the Overdose Education and Nasal Naloxone Distribution (OEND) program had a larger reduction in overdose deaths than those without such programs. The more people trained through OEND, the greater the drop in overdose deaths.
Resources about similar New York programs can be found in the NYS PTA’s Prescription Drug Abuse position paper (in Where We Stand) or at the New York State Department of Health website.
February 15, 2013
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In the Spotlight

Mental Health in Schools Act

On January 31, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Mental Health in Schools Act (S. 195), saying that “we don't want to stigmatize mental illness,” yet we lack the mental health “infrastructure” to give students access to the mental health supports they need. This act would authorize funding for school and community mental health centers, and provide for training of parents and school staff who could help to detect and address the early signs of mental illness. Click here for more. 

Asserting that “Government recognition for the need of mental health services is long overdue,” Representative Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) and 45 cosponsors introduced the House version of the bill (H.R. 628) on February 13. This is the forth time Napolitano has introduced the same bill in the House.

National PTA urges enactment of the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013 as a significant step toward ensuring the well-being and safety of all students. See National President Betsy Landers’ comments here.

Then go to PTA Takes Action and tell your members of Congress it’s high time they act to save our youth and pass the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013.
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NYS Bilingual Common Core Initiative

Last year, NYS PTA became a member of the New York State Bilingual Common Core Initiative. This committee addressed the educational needs of English language learners by focusing on the language demands of the new Common Core standards and ways to support the English language development of these students.

The committee also used the additional opportunity to determine how students should be supported in their native language as they attain the new standards. The State Education Department has now released the NYS Bilingual Common Core Progressions (formerly Learning Standards) for public review. These documents are posted under “Bilingual Common Core” here.

Special Education Notes

The mandatory state form for a Committee on Special Education (CSE) Meeting Notice is now available in Spanish, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Russian and Korean. Click here for more info.

Changes in the Commissioner’s Regulations regarding the CSE parent member are available on the NYSED website.

The Right to Play
The United States Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance stating that children with disabilities have the right to take part in extracurricular activities. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, students will have access to modifications, aids and services as needed in order to participate. However, if providing these accommodations alters the game or sport, then schools are obligated to create separate but equally supported opportunities for participation. Click here for more info.
Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2013 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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