NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... November 26, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Fight Sequestration Now!

Sequestration: It’s the dreaded $1.2 trillion of automatic across-the-board cuts in federal spending due to take effect in January, unless members of Congress can agree on a plan to control spending and reduce the federal deficit. The funding cuts would affect the defense budget, but make their greatest impact on non-defense “discretionary” spending like education. Education funds alone will shrink by close to $5 billion, leading to serious losses of school staff, programs and student services if Congress does not act.

But PTA advocates are determined that it will! Towards that goal, National PTA has released the Stop Sequestration Toolkit, a wealth of information and materials local, region, and state PTAs can put to immediate use to press Congress to take action. Just a few weeks remain for legislators to find a solution before it’s too late. So PTA members need to move fast to get their message heard.

You can find the Toolkit here, along with talking points and customizable tools for your advocacy campaign. Estimated cuts in federal and state program can be found here.

Hot Off the Press: NPTA Position on Teacher/Principal Evaluations

Responding to requests for guidance amid the controversies over new teacher/principal evaluation systems, the National PTA Board of Directors has just adopted a position statement called Development and Implementation of Teacher and Principal Evaluation Systems. The complete position statement, plus a helpful FAQ, can be found here

Clean Air in Enclosed Ice Arenas

Research shows that Zamboni ice resurfacers can emit harmful gases and particulate matter inhaled by all in the arena. Children skating on the ice are especially at risk. Ask these questions of the management at your local ice arena:
  • What type of ice resurfacer is used in the arena - gasoline, propane with or without a catalytic convertor, or electric?
  • Where and how long is the engine warmed up before they start resurfacing the ice? Warm-ups reduce amount of emissions of gases.
  • What type of ventilation system is there? Mechanical exhaust systems have a direct line from the garage to the outdoor environment and fresh air supply to the rink surface, which is better than exhaust fans.
  • Is there continuous ventilation of air during the time the rink is used?
  • Are arena doors open during and after resurfacing? Are the rink doors open during ice resurfacing to allow for better ventilation?
  • Is there regular monitoring of the ambient conditions and is there enforcement of these standards?
  • Are the operators trained in effective techniques of resurfacing in a manner to reduce emissions?
  • Are there warning signs of the potential hazards of particulate matter, CO and NO2 poisoning, as well as education seminars for rink staff, coaches and patrons?
  • Is there a prudent emergency plan in case of a poisoning incident?
NYS DOH Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know about Carbon Monoxide

NIH Report: Exposure to carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in enclosed ice arenas

NIH Report: High levels of airborne ultrafine and fine particulate matter in indoor ice arenas

Consumer Alerts

Research at UC Davis has found that the chemical triclosan, found in many antibacterial hand soaps, impairs muscle function at the cellular level. The evidence is believed strong enough to say that triclosan is a chemical of “concern to both human and environmental health.” Triclosan is also found in deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, bedding, carpets, toys and trash bags. Experiments used levels of triclosan similar to those people and animals are exposed to daily. For more info, click here

The NYS Department of Health has issued a warning about Carbon Monoxide due to improper use of alternate power sources post Superstorm Sandy. Click here for more info.

HEADS UP on Brain Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control have introduced a series of public service announcements entitled “New Heads Up: Brain Injury.” These PSAs will feature MLB Network’s Eric Byrnes: www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury.

The CDC offers many resources to educate the public on concussion in sports and promote prevention, recognition and response (PRR) to traumatic brain injury here.
November 26, 2012


National PTA Awards and Grants

Storm Recovery Grants
National PTA® announces a grant program for schools affected by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Awards of $500-$5,000 are available to local PTAs to help rebuild their school communities. PTAs should go to PTA.org/SuperstormRelief for information on applying for grants, as well as information for those who wish to support PTA’s superstorm relief effort.

National Advocacy Awards
When we advocate for children, our work is its best reward, but it’s a privilege to be recognized by peers also! With this in mind, National PTA presents a number of annual awards to honor the outstanding efforts of PTA advocates: the Shirley Igo Award for individuals, the Local Outstanding Advocacy Award for local/district/region units; and the State Outstanding Advocacy Award for State PTA units. For the first time, an Outstanding Youth Advocate Award will also be presented.

December 5, 2012 is the deadline for the 2013 Advocacy Awards. Any active PTA member may submit a nomination 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."

State-Approved APPR Plans

NYSED has just posted the following model APPR-approved plans: Bellmore, Binghamton, Campbell-Savona, Jamesville-Dewitt, Kings Park, Pembroke, Schenectady, Syracuse, Union-Endicott and Valhalla. These model APPR plans offer several interesting components and approvable options for other districts to consider for their own plans. All plans have been submitted to SED and require approval before January 17, 2013 in accordance with state law. To see the list of all state-approved plans thus far, click here.

Confronting Disaster

Many New Yorkers have suffered the effects of Superstorm Sandy. All children, especially those with special needs, face challenges in dealing with such disasters. Below are some links to articles that may be helpful either before or after a disaster. Our thoughts and best wishes go to all those who are navigating through this stressful time.
  • FEMA offers parents and caregivers suggestions on how to help children cope with the effects of disaster, as well as how to prepare before disaster strikes; click here.
  • From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network comes a guide for parents to help children before and after a hurricane. It describes what a hurricane is and provides resources for both parents and children; click here.
  • “Listen Protect Connect” provides information for parents, teachers and other caregivers to understand the effects of a disaster on children; click here.
  • The article “Coping With Disaster: Helping Children With Cognitive Disabilities” explains how to help children with disabilities in the aftermath of a stressful situation; click here.
  • Several governmental agencies have created activity books that help kids as well:
    Click here for ready.gov activity book
    Click here for California Department of Mental Health book
  • New York Resources: New York State Office of Emergency Management - click here.
  • Empire Justice Center: Resources for those Affected by Hurricane - click 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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