NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... August 17, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Response to Intervention – Easy to Read Guidance

Response to Intervention (RTI) is designed to provide high quality, research-based instruction/intervention matched to a child’s needs, by using the child’s own learning rate over time and level of performance as the basis for educational decisions about that student. Such instruction begins in the regular education classroom and moves through a three-tiered model towards increasing intensity and focus of instruction. Committees on Special Education (CSE) must now consider RTI data when determining a child’s need for special education services. You can find a guide to understanding RTI here.

In a related story, the NYSED has released a memo regarding school districts’ responsibility to use Response to Intervention (RTI) as part of the process to determine if a student in grades K-4 has a learning disability (LD) in reading. The memo can be found here.

Think Global, Eat Local!

This September, the Northeastern Organic Farmers Association of NY will host the 3rd Annual NY Locavore Challenge. The Locavore Challenge is a unique month-long campaign to engage all New Yorkers in supporting their local organic food movement. The Challenge helps consumers participate in various events and activities that promote the local economy, while encouraging organic and sustainable growing practices. New this year is the 30 Challenges in 30 Days calendar with daily recipes, tips and events.

Free registration runs until August 30 - click here to register.

To Frack, or Not to Frack…

The fate of hydrofracking in NYS is still up in the air, but Governor Cuomo’s decision is expected by the end of August. The latest proposal is to limit hydrofracking to several counties in the Southern Tier where the Marcellus Shale is deeper. Drilling would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts. Also unclear is how conflicts will be resolved if the state allows hydrofracking in areas where local municipalities have voted to ban it. Meanwhile, hydrofracking opponents plan to gather in Albany on August 27 to take a “Pledge to Resist Fracking in New York State.”

Click here for a concise, objective update on the hydrofracking controversy.

Health Notes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing detailed information regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care. To check it out, click here.

The federal government has developed a number of websites related to support available for military families. Click here for details.

In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America organized the first Walk to School Day in the USA as a one-day event to build awareness of the need for walkable communities. By 2000, it became the International Walk to School Day, and in 2012 a Bike to School Day was also held. This year International Walk to School Day is October 3rd. Click here for more information and to register your event.

Special Education Updates

Special Education at Risk?
With special education mandate relief a hot topic in New York, discussion continues about bringing New York’s Special Education regulations more into line with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and federal regulations (which tend to be weaker) as a way to provide relief to NY school districts. Already we have seen changes in service delivery as well as programs. It is very important to be informed about the differences between NY and federal regulations and how any changes may impact students with disabilities. A memo detailing the differences can be found here.

According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, federal funding for students with disabilities could face “devastating” cuts next year, with a reduction of as much as $900 million. Because of Congress’ failure to reach a budget deal last year, education programs may be subject to an across-the-board spending cut of about eight percent, and federal special education spending would fall to 14.5 percent, the lowest rate since 2001. These cuts will begin in the fall of 2013 unless Congress acts soon. Additional information can be found here.

Back to School Hint
Back to school time can be hectic and stressful for parents and students, especially those with disabilities. Click here for a helpful link from the National Center for Learning Disabilities for parents and educators.
August 17, 2012

 

Engaging Families in School Reform

In late April 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo established the NY Education Reform Commission, a group of education, community, business and non-profit leaders charged with examining the state’s education system and making recommendations for reform. These recommendations will center on improving classroom performance and ensuring students are prepared for their future by examining the following areas:

~ teacher recruitment and performance
~ improving student achievement
~ educational funding
~ increasing parent and family engagement
~ needs of high-need, low-wealth school communities
~ best use of technology in classrooms

To be able to make informed recommendations, the Commission is holding a series of public hearings to gather input from local stakeholders. For more information about the Education Reform Commission, upcoming public hearings, and previous public testimonies, click here.
"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."

Sequestration Blues

It is looking less and less likely that Congress will reach an overall deficit reduction deal to prevent the onset of sequestration in January 2013. National PTA has been at the forefront of efforts to raise awareness about the serious threat sequestration poses to public education, including intensive and successful advocacy for Senate adoption of the ”Murray Amendment,” which requires a full-scale analysis of sequester impact on ALL parts of the budget, not only defense spending.

Alarms have gone up on all sides. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has testified on the costs to education and the need for a new approach to deficit reduction, and the Department of Education has followed up with details on the impact of sequester on several current education funding streams. A Washington State-sponsored analysis of the impacts of federal budget cuts on individual school districts revealed the difficulty of calculating real impact. It found that those school districts most dependent on federal funds could lose over 16% of their aid, much more than previously estimated.

National PTA is encouraging state PTAs to demand similar district-level analysis from their state departments of education. This info will help drive public awareness and action and will also be very helpful in communicating the urgency of the situation with our federal representatives. Watch for NPTA’s “Stop the Sequester Toolkit” soon to be available for the state and local level. Tools will include media talking points, sample op/eds, fact sheets, and other resources like a sample “invoice” (a tool to allow you to “invoice” policymakers on behalf of students who will be short-changed by the cuts). Use the kit, and make sure you are signed up for NPTA action alerts!

Together we can make a difference!

Legislation to Help Protect New York Teens from Health Risks of Indoor Tanning

On July 16th Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to better protect teens from dangerous exposure to UV radiation by limiting their access to indoor tanning facilities. The new law prohibits the use of indoor tanning devices by children less than 17 years of age and requires teens between the ages of 17 and 18 to obtain parental consent.
Click here for the media release.

Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2012 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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