NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... March 15, 2013

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs


Virtual Lobby Day 2013It may be called “virtual,” but the action will be real on March 19, when thousands of NYS PTA members across the state join forces to lobby Albany for children and education. Don’t forget to show your support for VLD issues Equitability and Predictability of School Funding and Testing, Evaluation and Accountability at Capwiz.

Health and Wellness News

HIPAA Privacy Regulations Related to Mental Health
The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule protects personal health information while allowing disclosure if needed for patient care or other legitimate purposes. New York uses this form to allow release of medical information to those other than “covered entities,” which are medical staff, hospitals, insurance companies and associates.  A court order is required for release of mental health records or psychotherapy notes. See:
Good Health for All New Yorkers
The newly-released NYS Health Improvement Plan and Prevention Agenda for 2013-2017 is a “blueprint for state and local community action to improve the health of New Yorkers and address health disparities.” This document gives health advocates a good opportunity to see how health initiatives can be spearheaded in their local communities.

NYSUT Challenges Tax Cap in Court

The New York State United Teachers union has filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court to challenge the controversial New York property tax levy cap made law in 2011. According to NYSUT, the tax cap is unconstitutional for two reasons: 1) it can deepen inequity of school funding and deprive children of their legal right to “a sound basic education” and 2) it violates the principle of “one person, one vote” by requiring a 60% majority of voters to approve an override of the 2% tax cap. Click here for more info.

Focus on Farming

New! Guide to URBAN Farming in New York State
You don’t need 40 acres to have a farm. The Cornell Small Farms Program has just released a new “Guide to URBAN Farming in NYS.” This free resource guide covers a myriad of topics, including advocacy for urban agriculture, engaging communities, intensive growing techniques, urban composting and soils, urban livestock, site security, grant and financial opportunities, and services and resources available from urban farming organizations throughout New York. Check it out here.

Environment Update

Hydrofracking Moratorium?
The NYS Assembly recently passed bill A5424, which would suspend any action that would allow gas drilling in NYS using hydrofracking until May 2015. The bill also requires that a comprehensive health assessment be conducted by a SUNY school of public health and that the report be released to the public no later than April 15, 2015.

A similar bill currently in the Senate is supported by the bipartisan Independent Democratic Conference bloc, which shares Senate control with Republicans. It is not certain that the bill would pass in the Senate, however, as Republicans oppose a moratorium. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo waits for the NYS Health Commissioner to complete an ongoing review of research on the health effects of hydrofracking.
Read the bill here.

Are Nanoparticles Safe to Eat? We do not know, but they are in our food.
What are nanoparticles? “Nanoparticles are materials that are microscopic—significantly smaller than a red blood cell; and tens of thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles can help deliver nutrients, ensure longer freshness of food, act as thickening agents or enhance taste or flavor. The problem is, scientists are still determining the health and environmental impact of these tiny particles, even as industry is forging ahead.” Click here for more info.
March 15, 2013
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In the Spotlight

Two Months of Driver Safety Awareness

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is right around the corner in April. The National Safety Council has launched the “What were you thinking?” campaign to focus attention on the danger of distraction to the brain from a cell phone conversation. Many people believe that hands-free devices are safer, but research shows no real benefit from these devices, as the distraction to the brain remains. While you talk on a cell phone, the brain misses up to 50% of the driving environment – stop signs, traffic lights or even pedestrians. It’s no surprise that 25% of US car crashes involve cell phone use while driving.

Take the pledge to drive cell-free and find a variety of free posters, fact sheets and videos to share at nsc.org/ddmonth.

May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month, and the New York Teen Safe Driving Coalition, along with the Allstate Foundation, will award grants to school or community youth groups that implement a three-activity program for teen safe driving between January and May of 2013. A planning guide and registration form for the Teen Crashing GTG program is available here.
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PARCC Assessment Guidelines Released

PARCC is a consortium of 24 states working to develop K-12 computer-administered assessments to measure pupil achievement based on the Common Core Learning Standards. Computerized PARCC assessments will be administered in the areas of English and math in NYS schools during the 2014-15 school year. Many concerns have arisen regarding the state requiring all students to take the assessments in a grade at the same time with respect to limited computer access and bandwidth capacity. PARCC just released guidelines for assessment administration that indicate some flexibility. The NYS Education Department is aware of the issues raised in administering these new assessments and we hope to receive more guidance from Albany soon. Access PARCC assessment guidelines here; general information about PARCC assessments in NYS can be found here.

Quick Special Education Tips

Each year, New York State must report to the Federal government where its policies differ from those required by Federal law. The current application is posted for public review, with written public comment accepted until March 29. Click here for a document that can be used to determine mandate relief.

The National Fire Protection Association has developed an “Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities” with input from the disability community. To find more information on this important topic, click here.
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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