NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... September 26, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Taking on Bullying

Bullying is a problem for many students, but especially those with disabilities. A recent Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine study found that while the rate of bullying for typically developing students is 1 in 10, roughly 50% of adolescents with autism, intellectual disability, speech impairments and learning disabilities are bullied at school. Teens with the least social skills are the most likely to be bullied, and students with disabilities also face a higher risk of bullying in mainstream classrooms. The researchers conclude that schools must do more to promote an accepting environment. Read an abstract of the article here; for a news summary, click here.

On a related topic, a 2011 survey found that 16% of New York high school students had experienced cyberbullying in the past year. This summer, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to crack down on students who bully other kids online. The new law covers any act of cyberbullying – on or off campus – if it causes “substantial risk to the school environment, substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance or... well-being, or causes a student to fear for his or her physical safety.” As of July 1, 2013, school employees who learn of online harassment will be required to notify administrators within one day and file a written report within two days. Schools must also train staff and set up ways for parents and students to report bullying. The law stops short of making cyberbullying a crime in New York, but it does entail “coordination with police when appropriate.” Read the Governor’s press release here.

Weathering the Storm

It’s the height of hurricane season, and there is a lot of weather information in the news that can scare kids. Because all children, especially those with special needs, may have difficulty understanding and coping with this information, it is important to help them prepare ahead of time. September is National Preparedness Month, an annual campaign to encourage all Americans to prepare for any type of emergency, from natural disasters to flu outbreaks. Planning ahead will make life a lot easier for all children and their families, and these links can help.
US Department of Health and Human Resources
National Preparedness Month Coalition 
US Department of Homeland Security
Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters of Norfolk Virginia
Florida Department of Health

New Regulations for Bath Salts and Synthetic Drugs

Dovetailing with a recent federal law, Governor Cuomo and the NYS Department of Health have announced new regulations to combat the growing problem of so-called “bath salts” and other synthetic drugs. These drugs are marketed to youth as “legal alternatives to marijuana” with appealing names like Tranquility, Vanilla Sky and Spice. The names change frequently to avoid detection by law enforcement. But, like cocaine and amphetamines, they can cause many ill effects, including elevated blood pressure, chest pain, paranoia, delusion, violent behavior and suicidal thoughts. Poison control center calls related to synthetic marijuana have skyrocketed from 20 in 2010 to over 300 in the first half of 2012. Anyone with information about illegal distribution of bath salts or synthetic drugs is encouraged to call a new toll-free hotline, 1-888-99SALTS (1-888-997-2587).
For more information click here and here.

What is Food Day?

Food Day is a nationwide celebration of the movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food that culminates in a day of action on October 24. Created by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day aims to bring us closer to a food system with “real food” that is produced with care for the environment, animals, and the women and men who grow, harvest and serve it.

Calculating the Cost of College

College applicants often focus more on where they want to get their degree than the specifics of how they will pay for it: better to know which colleges have accepted you and how much financial aid they offer before worrying about whether and how much you need to borrow. With record levels of college debt, however, students and their families are now advised to learn as much as possible about forms of college aid and to use that knowledge as they research colleges and file applications.

On July 1, 2012, significant revisions to federal college aid programs went into effect. The document, A Consumer’s Guide to July 1, 2012, explains these revisions, including changes in Pell Grant eligibility and in new federal student loans. Find a concise overview of the terms for federal student and parent loans in 2012-13, including interest rates and loan limits, here. For more information on student aid, consult the US Department of Education.

Although aimed at current college students, Top Ten Student Loan Tips is a great resource for understanding the implications of taking out college loans.
September 26, 2012

 

We’re PTA, and We Vote

Less than seven weeks to Election Day. Is your PTA ready?

What role can PTA, a non-partisan, non-political organization, play in elections? Simple—make sure that your members are informed, engaged and ready to show up at the polls to make the most of their right to vote. True, a PTA cannot support specific candidates or parties, but it can educate fellow citizens on issues crucial to children, youth and public education and assist them in learning the candidates’ positions on those issues.

PTAs can also work to ensure that every eligible voter has registered to vote. New Yorkers can register in person at the Board of Elections and many other state agencies by October 12 or by mail (postmarked by October 12; received by the Board of Elections by October 17). Anyone who has been honorably discharged from the military or become a naturalized citizen after October 12 may register in person until October 26.

Note: Teens who will turn 18 after October 12, but before Election Day, may vote on November 6 if they register by the October due date, in advance of their birthdays.

For voter applications, registration locations, and other ideas for engaging PTA voters, look for “PTA VOTES” under Public Policy at www.pta.org.
"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."

Behavioral Interventions

The US Department of Education has issued a document with 15 specific guidelines for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion. It does not contain any new federal requirements. This document can be found here.

Information regarding NY State regulations can be found in the memo “Requirements Relating to the Use of Behavioral Interventions and Supports” by clicking here.

How Can NY Schools Participate In Food Day?

Take advantage of one of these great ideas:

1. Ask your students to “Take the Pledge” and choose to be sugary drink-free for five days by signing the Shocktober 2012 Sugary Drink Pledge.

2. Hold cafeteria tastings of seasonal fruits and vegetables such as roasted parsnips, butternut squash and different types of apples, etc.

3. Hold a Food Day Youth Debate to engage students in topics related to healthy foods, obesity and food access.

4. Host a “Chef in the Classroom” event and bring in local chefs to speak with students about cooking and eating healthy, local, seasonal food.

5. Encourage school gardens to have special events for Food Day, like cooking harvested produce and serving tastes to kids in the cafeteria, or kickoff a plan for a spring garden.

6. Use the 2012 Food Day School Curriculum.

7. Coordinate a Pour One Out event at your school.

More Food Day Resources and School Event Ideas at www.foodday.org.

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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