NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... October 23, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Seeing Green at the Polls

Child advocates should keep the school environment – inside and out – in mind during this election season. Study the candidates’ past records and ask them what their current positions are regarding school environmental issues, including the current controversy over potential hydrofracking near school buildings in New York State. The Healthy Schools Network, which partners with NYS PTA, has posted a Back to School and Beyond Action Kit and Calendar on its website here. The kit contains position statements, policy recommendations and general pointers for advocating to elected officials, with timely tips on how to be a savvy voter for green causes in the upcoming elections.

Heading Towards the Cliff?

The threat of drastic cuts in federal spending builds as the sequestration deadline of January 2, 2013 approaches. Any Congressional action is on hold until after the November elections, but other groups have been busy projecting the impact on education if sequestration does go into effect. Special Education programs and services face a possible $1 billion cut in federal funding. The EPA, already underfunded for child-friendly programs like IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) Tools for Schools and Green and Healthy Schools, could lose another 8-9% of its total budget.

In August, Congress passed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, which required the President to provide a detailed report on the implementation of required spending reductions if sequestration occurs. The resulting White House report can be read here.

Reform Commission Wrap-Up

After several months of testimony from education leaders and activists across the state, the members of the NY Education Reform Commission have wrapped up their schedule of public meetings. Numerous NYS PTA representatives testified before the Commission to share PTA’s perspective on increasing student achievement and readiness for college, career and active citizenship. Education Coordinator Dr. Robert Aloise, Westchester – East Putnam Region Director Kelly Chiarella, Family Engagement Coordinator Jamie Knapp, and Executive Administrator Rick Longhurst all stressed that meaningful family engagement is a crucial component in elevating the achievement of all NY students. To review all speaker testimony, click here. The Commission will issue its preliminary recommendations to the Governor by December 1, 2012.

Checklist for a Healthy, Safe School Environment

It is important to create a safe, healthy environment for children both in and out of school. Parents and PTAs must be proactive in this endeavor. Here is what we can do to educate ourselves and our kids about how to stay healthy and safe:

Technology: The Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends www.netsmartz.org/backtoschool, a website with resources to teach all age groups about computer and technology safety.
Medications in School: Each school has its own policies regulating what students can carry to school with written permission from a physician and parent/guardian, and it’s important to know your school district’s policies on medications in school. The National School Boards Association lists all state regulations and laws regarding medication management in schools here.
Allergies: The NYS Department of Health has a publication entitled: “Making the Difference: Caring for Students with Life-Threatening Allergies”.
Environment: The US Environmental Protection Agency has Tips to Go Green in school, including what students, parents and teachers can do to reduce school waste. Click here for more information.
October 23, 2012


Spreading the Net a Little Wider

A perennial concern is the strength of the safety net for students with disabilities when they take Regents exams. At their October meeting, the Board of Regents approved a proposed rule that would allow a student with disabilities who scores 45 through 54 out of a possible 100 on a state Regents exam to qualify for a local diploma, as long as he or she compensates for this low score with a score of 65 or above on another Regents exam. Prior to this change, the lowest score allowed for credit was 55, and there was no compensatory allowance of another test result.

The provision will become effective as an emergency rule October 31, 2012. It is expected that the proposed rule will be presented for adoption as a permanent rule at the January Regents meeting. There will also be a 30-day public comment period for the revised rule, so be sure to check the NYSED and Board of Regents websites for updates. The October Regents’ memo is 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."

Last Call…

Parent advocates have until November 13, 2012 to provide written public comment about the change in the Commissioner’s Regulations on the additional parent member of a Committee of Special Education (CSE). The amendment requires an additional parent member only if requested in writing by the parent, student or district at least 72 hours prior to the meeting; parents would also receive written notice of their right to have an additional parent member in attendance. To comment, click here.

Buckle Up! Sit-Click-Ride! Poster Contest

Riding in a car is one of the most dangerous places for a child. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, NYS Child Passenger Safety Advisory Board, NYS Department of Health and NYS Safe Kids announce a statewide “Always Buckle Up! Sit-Click-Ride” poster contest for children in grades 3-7, to drive home the importance of always buckling up with a lap and shoulder seat belt and riding in the back seat. The contest deadline is December 14, 2012. State and regional winners will receive prizes, and winning posters will be incorporated into a 2013-2014 traffic safety calendar distributed throughout the state. Contest forms and materials and other resources to promote “tween” passenger safety can be found here.

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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