NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... May 2014

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

In This Issue

In the Spotlight
In the Spotlight...
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Graduation Rates for Students with Disabilities

Special Education Graduation Graduation rates for students with disabilities still tend to fall behind those rates for public school high school students. In a recent report, the US Department of Education documented these numbers. Approximately 80% of high school students earn a diploma on time. For students with disabilities, this number is 61%.

While the number has improved, it is still not where it should be. Because these are national numbers, the graduation rates vary from state to state.

A key emphasis needs to be on increasing this graduation rate, and allowing all students to graduate with a diploma that is valuable.

More information can be found here

Public School Librarians and Libraries

Declaration for the Right to Libraries
Public school librarians and libraries across New York State are in danger of being eliminated due to budget constraints. It is time for parents and guardians to demand their children’s right to a strong and effective school library, staffed by a certified school librarian.

Parents and guardians can show their support for school libraries by signing the American Library Association’s ‘Declaration for the Right to Libraries here.

For more information, see the April/May edition of the National PTA magazine Our Children.

Extending Learning Outside the Classroom: The Power of the Summer Internship

Summer Internships
Through summer internships, students gain real-world skills and cultivate a sense of pride and purpose.

They also see that they have something of value to contribute to the world. Internships can expose students to academic majors they never previously considered and provide them with real-world career preparatory skills.

For more, click here.

NYS Medical Marijuana Legislation

The Savino Medical Marijuana Bill (#S4406 and #S4406B) is scheduled to be moved out of the Heath Committee to the Finance Committee in the next two weeks and addressed on the Senate floor by the end of this legislative session.

NYS PTA opposes the legalization of marijuana, except for medical use approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In its current form, the bill includes language in some provisions that poses concern for easier access and abuse by youth.

To review the bill, click here.

Opioid Updates

Heroin on College Campuses is a Hidden Issue
SUNY Oswego student dead in suspected heroin overdose, officials say According to Inside Higher Ed, most colleges focus on substance use prevention and alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs, but do little to discuss heroin. To read more about this, click here.

NYS Assembly Passes Overdose Antidote Legislation
The NYS Assembly has unanimously passed bill A8637. This bill expands access to opioid antagonists, by making it easier for healthcare organizations and pharmacies to distribute Narcan/Naloxone to those in need by allowing non-patient specific orders.

The Senate already passed the companion bill. The bill is now waiting to be signed by Governor Cuomo.

To view the bill, click here.

To find a provider who can come to your PTA meetings to give an opiate overdose Narcan/Naloxone training free of charge, click here.

Good Samaritan 911 Law Needs to be Promoted to Prevent Overdose Deaths
Good Samaritan 911 Law
The numbers of opiate overdoses are on the rise in New York State. The good news is that with the availability of Narcan/Naloxone, overdose reversals are also increasing. However, not everyone has Narcan. Therefore, we need to increasingly share the message about the 911 Good Samaritan Law.

New York’s 911 Good Samaritan law “protects you even if you shared drugs with others or possess paraphernalia. The protections do not extend to outstanding warrants, probation or parole violations, drug sales and other non-drug crimes.”

What should you do if you see an overdose? Call 911; say the person is not breathing, start rescue breathing (mouth to mouth), give Narcan (if you have it), lay the person on their side once they resume breathing.

How do you recognize signs of an overdose? If the person is unconscious and you can’t wake them, breathing slowly or not at all, lips or nails are turning blue. Click here for more.

If your PTA wants to order posters and palm cards to spread the word, you can order them free from the NYS Department of Health here.

State Considering Legislation Restricting Electronic Cigarette Sales and Use

How E-Cigarettes Work
In lieu of proposed regulations from the federal Food and Drug Administration on electronic cigarettes, the state is considering several pieces of legislation that would regulate or even ban the use and sale of the popular new method of nicotine delivery.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered mechanisms that heat liquid nicotine so it may be inhaled as a vapor. The industry pushes the product as a safe alternative to combustible tobacco, but health experts and lawmakers are concerned that e-cigarettes may still be dangerous to the user's health, could be harmful to bystanders and are marketed towards youth.

For more info, click here.

NYS PTA Wellness Toolkit: A Resource for Education and Advocacy

Wellness Toolkit
If you need information to support advocacy on a particular PTA position, or to develop an education program around wellness issues, click here.

Nicholas's Law and the NYS Coalition to Prevent Child Access to Guns

NYAGV Supports Nicholas's Law
Help Keep Guns Away from Kids

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence’s top legislative priority this year is a Child Access Prevention (CAP or safe gun storage) Law (A8293 or Nicholas's Law). The bill has been named after Nicholas Naumkin, a 12-year-old who was accidentally shot and killed in December 2010 by a friend while visiting his house on a playdate.

Although New York City and Westchester County have CAP laws, New York State does not. This effectively means that if a child accesses a gun that is not safely stored, virtually no meaningful New York State penalty is imposed upon the gun owner – even if the child accidentally injures or kills another person or him/herself with the gun.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have safe storage or child access prevention laws
, some stronger than others.

For more information about the Coalition and CAP, click here.

To sign the petition for Nicholas's Bill and to forward the link, click here.

Update: The Problem of Youth STDs, HIV, AIDS and Teenage Pregnancy is Still With Us

Youth STD Statistics
Please find the following updates to our previous article posted in the February 2014 “Advocacy Newsbriefs…” relative to the following facts regarding STDs as reported by the AIDS Institute of the NYSDOH.

Updates provided compliments of Mary Beth Vannucci of NYSDOH; new data obtained follow in parentheses.

One in four adolescents are likely to acquire an STD. This rises by one to two for sexually active people by age 25.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported communicable disease in NYS. 100,000 cases were reported in 2010. Statistics show nearly three out of four are ages 16-24 and one of three are aged 15-19. (**In 2012, chlamydia is the most commonly reported communicable disease in NYS with over 100,000 cases reported. Statistics show nearly two out of three cases are ages 15-24 and one of three are aged 15-19.)

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in NYS with 18,000 cases reported in 2010. Two out of three cases were aged 15-24. (**In 2012, gonorrhea is the third most commonly reported STD in NYS with more than 22,000 cases reported. One out of two of these cases were aged 15-24.)

There were 3,732 newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in 2011. One in five cases were under the age of 25. (**In 2012, there were 3,306 newly diagnosed cases of HIV infection in 2012. One in five cases were individuals under the age of 25.)

There were 13,859 births to women 19 years of age or younger with 30% of this group aged 17 or younger in 2011. (**In 2012, there were 12,733 births to women 19 years of age or younger, with 29% of this group aged 17 or younger.)

Bill Would Require Schools, Daycares to Carry EpiPens

A Manhattan lawmaker is sponsoring several pieces of legislation that would require schools, daycare centers and overnight camps to stock EpiPens on-site and train certain personnel to administer the drug.

An EpiPen is used to deliver a measured dose of epinephrine, or adrenaline, to curb the effects of an allergic reaction.

For more information, click here.

May 2014
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In the Spotlight
 May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

In the US, nearly 60 million Americans live with mental illness. Many are children.

The stigma attached to mental illness impacts a person’s ability or willingness to seek out treatment. This impacts their ability to receive an education and have their families actively involved in their care.

To learn more, check out the following resources:
Sign up for Capwiz
Click Above to Sign Up for CapWiz!

“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.”

Every Child in Focus Campaign

Asian-American Family National PTA’s Every Child in Focus is a campaign centered on strengthening family engagement in schools by celebrating important cultural distinctions and achievements, while highlighting solutions to potential educational issues.

Each month, National PTA spotlights a particular group of families. The accomplishments of a particular group are highlighted, as well as strategies to employ to help foster deeper family-school partnerships.

The focus for May is the Asian-American/Pacific Islander child. The materials provided here are for your PTA to use to help support and engage these families within your school.

National PTA School of Excellence

National PTA School of ExcellenceIt’s time to recognize and celebrate the partnership that your PTA and your school have built through the years. Enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program is an avenue to help enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students, while making families feel welcomed and empowered to help support their students’ success.

The first step is to enroll your school. Once your school is enrolled, you will receive the "Getting Started Guide," which describes program components. Enrollment is currently open.

The National Educational Assessment Progress (NAEP) – Also Known as the “Nation's Report Card” – Just Released ELA and Math Scores Across the Country

Nation's Report Card Reading impacts scores.

Students who strongly agreed that they learn a lot from books and find reading enjoyable had average reading scores at or above the Proficient level.

When asked if they discussed what they read, students who reported discussing their reading every day or almost every day had higher reading scores.

For more information, click here.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Seeking Public Comment on Hydraulic Fracturing

Fracking Well The EPA is seeking public comment on “Enhancing Transparency for Chemicals and Mixtures Used in Hydraulic Fracturing.”

For more information, click here.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Seeking Public Comment on Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) and Additional Tobacco Products

FDA and E-Cigarettes The following is from the FDA:

“Despite decades of efforts to reduce tobacco use, it continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. To address this public health problem, FDA proposes extending its authority to cover additional products that meet the definition of a tobacco product under the proposed rule: Tobacco Products Deemed To Be Subject to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (Deeming).”

Visit Extending Authorities to Additional Tobacco Products and Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for more information.

It is important to get this information out to PTAs and its members. Youth are using these products more and more. We need to get ahead of the use of tobacco products in youth.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director Urges Lawmakers Not to Legalize Marijuana

Don't Legalize Marijuana At a recent US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight subpanel hearing, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA, said the marijuana can act as a gateway drug and should not be legalized.

To read more about marijuana’s effects on the brain, click here.


Grants US Department of Education, Project Prevent Grant Program, “Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year 2014” has been released.

The purpose of the Project Prevent Grant Program is to provide grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to increase their capacity to help schools in communities with pervasive violence to better address the needs of affected students and to break the cycle of violence.

Eligible Applicants: Local educational agencies (LEAs), i.e., public school districts including charter schools that are considered LEAs under State law.

Application Deadline Date: June 30, 2014.

Estimated Available Funds: $9,750,000.

More detailed information is available here

Inspiring Civic Engagement in Youth

Youth Volunteers The federal Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs released a new microsite to encourage youth and young adults to shape programs, policies and services that affect their lives.

Youth Engaged 4 Change offers examples of youth who have led change in their community, and provides opportunities for youth to get involved in the civic process.

If you want to further encourage youth to make change, tell them to check out and enter the Youth Engaged 4 Change contest!

Raise the Age in NYS

Raise the Age NY Every year in the United States, an estimated 250,000 children under the age of 18 are tried, sentenced or imprisoned as adults. And of these, around 100,000 actually end up in adult jails and prisons, with many spending time in solitary confinement.

New York State is still two of 50 state governments in the United States that automatically tries all 16 year olds in the adult system; the US generally has a youth incarceration problem.

This is despite the fact that the US Supreme Court has agreed that children are less deserving of blame than adults and usually deserve a chance at redemption. The United Nations says that children who commit crimes should be placed in a closed facility as a measure of last resort.

For more information, click here.

Promoting Online Safety Savvy

Online Safety Millennials may have been the first generation to grow up in the digital age, but they and their parents still have a lot to learn about staying safe online.

Google is helping fill in the knowledge gaps with its online safety center, which includes instructional courses for teens and their families.

Additional online safety resources are available from the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuard Online site.

Officials Concerned About Potential New Powdered Alcohol Product


Lawmakers have expressed concern over a new form of alcohol that could hit the market as early as the fall.

In early April, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for seven varieties of Palcohol, a brand of dehydrated alcohol, ranging from straight vodka to a powdered margarita.

Derided as “the Kool-Aid of teen binge drinking,” lawmakers and other concerned parties say Palcohol poses a particular risk for youth who may be attracted to this easily-portable, easily-hidden form of alcohol.

For more info, 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.

Our mailing address is:
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Albany, NY  12205
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