NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... May 2013

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Speaking of Safety and Wellness....

National Drug Control Strategy
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the new National Drug Control Strategy “is a science- driven plan for drug policy reform in America. This 21st century drug policy outlines a series of evidence-based reforms that address our Nation's drug problem as not just a criminal justice issue, but also a major public health concern.” This plan is now available for review here.

100% Vegetarian
Queens Elementary School P.S. 244 is the first in the country to serve fully a vegetarian breakfast and lunch. Developed by the school in cooperation with the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, lunch menus now feature items like black bean and cheddar quesadillas with salsa and whole wheat wraps with chickpea falafel. Students interviewed by local news stations expressed their happiness that the new lunches have replaced former “unhealthy” options like hamburgers.

P.S. 244 may be starting a trend; according to NYC officials, by 2014 there will be salad bars in place at all city schools. Read more here.

To learn more about this program and other schools increasing consumption of fruits and veggies, visit the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Help for Trafficking Victims
The Office of Juvenile Justice in the US Department of Justice is seeking public comment on a federal plan to improve services for victims of human trafficking. Public comments are invited through May 24, 2013.

To review the strategic plan, click here. To add a public comment, click here.

Tips for Student Success

It’s the time for transitions: moving up and moving on, honoring of past achievements, celebration of present joys, and sound advice to smooth future paths. What points students towards success? How can parents effectively support that success? National PTA offers an array of guides, presentations and other handy resources to address these concerns here.

Blogger H. Wolpert-Gavron links educational success to the Top Ten Responsibilities that Students Must Own:
  • Be your own advocate. Stake a claim in the classroom by making sure the teacher knows who you are...in a good way.
  • Ask lots of questions....and show confusion appropriately.
  • Think of school as your office in training. Are you a good co-worker?
Find the whole list here.  

Guidance on Common Core Assessments

The 15th District PTA in Jefferson County, KY received a National PTA grant to organize workshops for parents on implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards.

Their materials included a well-designed “Parents’ Guide to Assessments in Kentucky” that is worth a look by parents/guardians here in New York, where Common Core-based assessments are also being implemented.

To view the guide, click here.

Pursuing a DREAM

With immigration reform once again on the legislative table, Congress is working through literally hundreds of proposed measures, including the DREAM Act, which would open a path to conditional legal residency for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as minors, meet a number of other criteria, and attend college or serve in the military.

Less known is the New York State’s DREAM Act (A.2597/S.2378), which would enable New York's young undocumented immigrants who have a NYS high school diploma or GED and enroll in an in-state college to apply for state financial aid. Currently, these students are ineligible for any form of federal tuition assistance, scholarships, grants or loans, which puts college beyond the reach of many, regardless of their other qualifications.

The NYS DREAM Act has no impact on a student’s legal status or immigration law, which are under federal jurisdiction.

See the bills, their sponsors and status at:
May 2013
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In the Spotlight

Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Millions of Americans live with mental health issues each day. The numbers are staggering: one in four American adults experiences mental illness, while at least one in five adolescents lives with a serious mental or emotional disorder. Additional statistics are even more alarming. Many individuals do not seek the treatment that they need, often for fear of social stigma. When parents reach out for professional help, the first person they contact is often their child’s school psychologist or social worker, yet these staff positions are often among the first to go in tough budgetary times.

More information and resources for individuals or PTA units can be obtained here:
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New Credential for Students with Disabilities

The NYS Education Department has been working to establish a NYS Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential for students with disabilities to replace the IEP diploma due to sunset at the end of the 2012-13 school year. The Board of Regents has taken emergency action to establish this credential and make it available to students beginning July 1, 2013. However, there must be a 30-day period of public comment on this proposed amendment to the Commissioner’s Regulations before the Regents can adopt it as a permanent rule. All public comments are due by June 6, 2013. To learn more about this topic, click here. To comment, click here.

Disaster Aid

Funds for February Storm
President Obama declared NYS a federal disaster area after the severe February snowstorm. Federal funding is now available in Suffolk County for state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations to do emergency work and repair or replace facilities damaged by the storm. Click here for more info.

Special Needs
People with disabilities and those with special needs often need additional support in times of disasters. The Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have published a detailed document to address these challenges. Click here for more info.

Also, click here for more tips on general family preparedness.
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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