NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... December 21, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Warm Wishes for a Wonderful, Safe Holiday Season and Happy New Year!

Go PVC-Free for the Holidays

 At the annual Convention in November, NYS PTA adopted a resolution calling for the phasing out of PVC vinyl products in schools (click here for details). The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) offers these tips for creating a PVC-free environment for children on holidays and all year round.
  • Look for toys and infant products labeled PVC-, phthalate- or lead-free. Click here to find out whether a toy contains PVC; look in CHEJ’s guides for PVC-free products.
  • Avoid electronics like smart phones and computers that contain PVC. Consult Greenpeace’s Greener Electronics Guide.
  • Always check the packaging of potential gifts. Avoid the three-arrow “recycling” symbol with the number 3 and/or the letters V or PVC, indicating it’s made with PVC. If no symbol is present, call the manufacturer’s question/comment line to find out what it’s made of.
  • Most artificial Christmas trees are made with PVC and may contain lead. Purchase vintage aluminum trees, potted live trees (intended for post-holiday planting) or local, sustainably-grown organic trees.

New Terms for Autism

The American Psychiatric Association reports changes in the upcoming 2013 edition of the DSM, a manual used by professionals for patient diagnosis. One of the major changes is to the diagnosis of autism, in which the specific diagnoses of Autism, Asperger’s and Pervasive Development Disorder will no longer exist. In their place, the umbrella term “autism spectrum disorder” will include the entire range of mild to severe autism. For more information, click here.

Note: Recent news coverage of the tragedy in CT has spread the idea that autism is linked to violence. It is important for us as child advocates to share the message that there is no such link and any such allegations are unfair and unfounded.

Health and Wellness in the USA

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established a website about the health and well-being of children and adolescents. Within it is a section on Training Tools for Healthy Schools: a resource for improving school health policies, programs and curricula.

The 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA has been published. The survey notes “areas of both improvement and decline since the 2010 Shape of the Nation Report.” While 38 states “mandate physical education in elementary, middle/high and high school,” most of them “do not require a specific amount of instructional time and more than half allow exemptions, waivers and/or substitutions.” The complete report can be found here.

Health Alerts

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that Revatio (sildenafil) not be prescribed to children (ages 1 through 17) with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH, high pressure in the blood vessels leading to the lungs). Recent studies link use of this drug by children to an increased risk of death from pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. For more information, click here.

Flu Season: The NYS Department of Health has posted a YouTube video on the efforts to reduce and monitor the effects of seasonal influenza. To view the video, click here.

Holidays can be stressful times for children with disabilities and their families, but there is help available for parents/caregivers to make them more enjoyable and less stressful.

Youth and Alcohol

The Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) has released a report on the “Effects and Consequences of Underage Drinking on Adolescent Brain Development.” The results indicate that brain development continues until about age 25. But for youth who abuse alcohol before that age, the hippocampi (memory and learning) part of the brain is 10% smaller than normal. See the report here.

The UDETC also has a number of new National Electronic Seminars on underage drinking available to the public. Click here to register.
December 21, 2012


A Diploma of Value for Every Student

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire reported that between 2009 and 2010, the drop-out rate for students with disabilities declined nation-wide. At the same time, the number of students with disabilities that left school with a diploma rose by 2%. While this increase represents an important first step, it is also important for students to earn a diploma of value. Click here for more information.

At their October meeting, the NYS Board of Regents adopted an emergency resolution to provide additional support for “students with a disability” to be able to earn a local diploma. To view the entire memo and a checklist for eligibility, 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."

2012 National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda

With Congress discussing plans to reduce our federal deficit, it is more important than ever for us to understand the National PTA priorities as laid out in its Federal Public Policy Agenda. The 2012 Public Policy Agenda features three key policy areas:
  • education;
  • child health and nutrition; and
  • juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.
To access the 2012 National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda, click here.

Hydrofracking Still a Hot Topic

Proposed Regulations...
NYS Commissioner of Health Nirav Shah’s review of the public health impacts of hydrofracking was not completed by the November deadline. Despite concerns over how comprehensive NY’s assessment will be, no decisions on whether to permit hydrofracking in NY will be made until the health assessment is complete. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has therefore extended the rule-making process for hydrofracking by 90 days. Meanwhile, the DEC has released some revised regulations and will take written comments on the proposed revisions from December 12 until January 11. For more info, click here.

...And Proposed Local Legislation
In the meantime, several NY town and county governments have passed local laws to try to regulate or prohibit hydrofracking within their precincts. A main concern is how to dispose of the large volume of toxic wastewater or “brine,” produced when millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and toxic chemicals are used in the fracking process. In some states this brine, which cannot be cleaned in conventional water treatment plants, has been sold to local governments to de-ice or control dust on roads, a highly controversial practice. Now some Assembly members have announced their intention of proposing legislation that would ban the use of hydrofracking waste products in state highway maintenance and other NYS contracts. Watch for this bill in January 2013. Click here for more information.

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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