NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... April 2014

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

In This Issue

In the Spotlight...
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Department of Education Releases New Parent and Community Engagement Framework

The Dual Capacity framework

The fourth quarter of the school year is generally a time of preparation for schools and districts, as they finalize next year’s budget, student and teacher schedules, and professional development for the upcoming school year.

During this time of preparation, it is important that schools and districts discuss ways that they can support parents and the community to help students to achieve success.

To help in this work, the US Department of Education is proud to release a framework for schools and the broader communities they serve to build parent and community engagement.

Click here to read more.

April is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism Awareness Month and it is important that we recognize our special students and their families.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that 1 in 68 (up from 1 in 88 in 2012) children have autism.

The rates vary, from 1 in 45 in New Jersey to 1 in 175 in Alabama. The rest of the statistics paint a concerning picture as well. Below are links to additional information: The federal government has created an advisory committee, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee website offers a lot of information and resources: iacc.hhs.gov.

Mental Health Issues in the News

Save Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Center
There has been discussion in the past year about closing or consolidating services, including Sagamore Children’s Psychiatric Center in Dix Hills on Long Island. This site in particular has provided a safe haven for our students who experience severe mental disorders and their families.

The NYS Legislature voted to fund this facility for next year with monitoring. Governor Cuomo has stated that it will remain open for the foreseeable future. It is important for children with mental health issues to have their significant needs met. Click here for more.

A recent report has found that access to a mental health provider in this country varies based on where you live. Some areas have one mental health provider for over 55,000 residents. The nationwide average is one provider for every 1,620 people.

Click here for more info about your county.

Stamp Out Smoking / Tobacco-Free Living

No Smoking According to the National Institutes of Health News, researchers have found effective ways to help people quit smoking – or prevent them from starting in the first place.

To learn more, click here.

NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services: April 2014 Town Hall Meetings

Town Hall Meetings To Prevent Underage Drinking Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez recently announced that the NYS Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are organizing town hall meetings to support Alcohol Awareness Month in April.

Click here for complete listing.

Parents Influence Teens’ Drinking Decisions

According to a survey by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), “teens are much less likely to drink if their parents tell them underage drinking is completely unacceptable.

The survey was conducted of 663 high school students and found only 8% of teens whose parents thought underage drinking was unacceptable were drinkers themselves; 42% of teens who said their parents believed underage drinking was somewhat unacceptable, or completely acceptable, were drinkers.

Teens whose parents told them underage drinking is completely unacceptable are 80 percent less likely to drink, compared with those whose parents give their teens’ other messages about drinking, the survey found.”

MADD Powertalk 21

Learn About Powertalk 21
This year, MADD will host free 30-minute online discussions throughout the day on April 21, for parents and caregivers to learn the best way to talk with your teens, so that they really listen. Find out more and register now by clicking here.

See more about Powertalk 21 by clicking here.

Start the conversation on April 21. You can also download the latest version of the parent handbook on talking with teens about alcohol by clicking here.

“Not All Change Needs to Come Through Legislation”

Written by Joni Taubman, Immediate Past Co-President, Williamsville East PTSA

Not all change must be made through legislation, lobby groups or on-line petitions. Sometimes, change can come from one person speaking up, one letter, or one comment to the right person at a corporation can impact a community. My experience with a major grocery chain store in early 2013 is the perfect example of this.

It’s Christmas time, 2012, and all the stores are decked out with their holiday displays. Of course, there is a darkness hovering over the country this holiday, following the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.

Just two days after the shooting, I was shopping in a nearby grocery store and noticed a beer display which featured a silhouette of James Bond, brandishing his handgun in a sexy pose. Maybe we’ve become so desensitized by our gun culture that this is OK, but given recent events, seeing it just hit me like a brick. While adults may not even notice or make a connection, I thought that perhaps, given all the news coverage of Newtown, children might not distinguish between what is real and what is not.

I brought this to the attention of the store manager, asking if he thought, under the circumstances, this was an appropriate display. I was pleasantly surprised when the manager saw my point, addressed my concern, and immediately removed the silhouette. In fact, he was thankful that I had brought it to his attention.

I was becoming more aware of guns everywhere. At another store in the same chain, in the same community, I was walking down the aisle which had greeting cards on one side, magazines on the other.

I noticed one magazine cover with the barrel of an assault rifle pointing at me, on a rack at ground level. Then I started counting the magazines which had assault rifles on the cover. Not hunting rifles, sport rifles or even pistols – assault rifles. One, two, three.... twenty three! All at floor level, where a three year old, holding his mother's hand as she shops for a greeting card, could see them.

Again, I approached a store manager, but was told that nothing could be done to move or remove these, as magazines were managed by an outside vendor...

Read all of Joni's story by clicking here.

April 2014
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In the Spotlight

Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA)

Gap Elimination Adjustment Press Conference The Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) was first introduced by the NYS Legislature for the 2009-10 fiscal year, as a way to close New York’s then $10 billion budget deficit. This legislation deducts money from state aid, originally intended for school districts, based on state aid formulas.

The GEA was intended to be a temporary measure. However, it was made a permanent part of the state aid allocations in 2011-12.

Most school districts have been cutting their budgets to the bone for years now, and simply cannot afford to continue this imposition.

We must continue to work for the elimination of the GEA.

For more information, click here.
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April is the Month of the Military Child

April is the Month of the Military Child Military children encounter many challenges unique to their situation, such as:
  • having a parent deployed for long periods of time
  • moving frequently
  • changing schools
  • leaving friends
There are ways to recognize and encourage them, such as:
  • holding open discussions with students about the life of a military child
  • arranging special activities that show support for military children
  • reaching out to the new military child in your class
Click here to find out more.

SAFE Act Repeal Rejected in Assembly Committee

SAFE Act An attempt to repeal the state's tough gun-control law didn't make it out of an Assembly committee last week. Republican lawmakers and gun-rights advocates have been pushing the Legislature to repeal the SAFE Act, which was adopted in January 2013.

The repeal has no chance of passage in the Legislature, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has hailed the law as making the state safer after the Newtown school shootings in December 2012.

Click here to read more.

April is National Minority Health Month

National Minority Health Month

This year’s theme is Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity. It is unfortunate that despite advancements in our health care system, we still have disparities in health and health care.

Statistics have shown that minorities are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions, most of which are preventable.

Actions in place to correct this problem include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • The Affordable Care Act allows those previously uninsured, medical care coverage for prevention and treatment-related health care
  • The Health and Human Services Department has outlined the following goals:
Throughout the month of April, the Office of Minority Health is hosting a weekly webinar series highlighting the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

As a final note, we might all agree, if we keep our population healthy with adequate preventative medicine, we reduce illness and thus reduce the costs of chronic health care.

Assembly Bill Expands Use of Speed Cameras

Assembly Bill Expands Use of Speed Cameras Hoping to reduce speeding in school zones, the state Assembly has passed a bill increasing the use of speed cameras in areas of Long Island and New York City.

Click here for more information.

Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Announces Schedule for 12 Forums to be Held Statewide

Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction The New York State Senate Majority Coalition today announced the schedule for the Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.

Twelve forums will be held statewide to solicit input on the rise in the use of heroin and opioids and to develop legislative recommendations for treating and preventing addiction and its consequences. 

Interested members of the public are invited to attend and participate in the discussions. For more information, please call (631) 665-2311.

Click here to read more.

Bill Requires Sobriety Test After a Car Accident

Sobriety Test The NYS Senate passed a bill that would make testing for alcohol and other substances a law enforcement requirement following serious motor vehicle accidents.

Click here to read more.

Dates to Remember

For a complete listing, click here.


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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