NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... January 20, 2012
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NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Executive Budget Proposal

In a fired-up presentation calling for government by the people and for the people, Governor Cuomo proposed his 2012 Executive Budget. Of particular interest or concern, the governor's proposal included:

• a school aid increase of $805 million reflecting a 4% increase for 2012-13 and 3.5% increase for the following year
• a stunning announcement that unless litigation challenging APPR is settled or withdrawn within the next month, he will impose his own plan to alter the school aid budget proposal; districts that meet the deadline by 9/1/12 would receive their allotted aid and be eligible to go into a pool for grant competition; for those that do not have an agreement in place by the end of the year, state aid for this year could be withheld
• pension reform with the addition of an optional Tier VI for new hires
• shifts in costs for pre-school special education and 3020a disciplinary hearings to school districts

Click here to listen to Governor Cuomo’s presentation and/or obtain a copy of the 2012 Executive Budget.


According to Education Week, the acronym STEM—shorthand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics—has quickly taken hold in education policy circles. Some experts in the arts community and beyond suggest it may be missing another initial to make the combination more powerful. The idea? Move from STEM to STEAM, with an A for the arts. Click to read more of this story.  

New York Too Slow in Race to the Top?

On January 10, the US Department of Education issued a progress report on states participating in the Race to the Top program for education reform. Presently New York finds itself on a watch list for failing to fulfill some of the goals set forth in its application for the RTTT program. Specifically, the USDOE targeted delays in developing a statewide database to track student records and in implementing a new system of performance evaluations for teachers and principals. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned that “backtracking on reform commitments could cost [New York] hundreds of millions of dollars,” while acknowledging that the state has made some progress and faces real challenges in getting approval from over 700 distinct school districts, charter schools, and other education providers for all of these goals. Click to view USDOE’s progress report for New York.

NYS Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch jointly responded to this report.

Health Updates

Fuel Up to Play 60 is now accepting applications for its nationwide funding initiative for K-12 schools enrolled in the in-school wellness program. Applications are due 2/1/12.

Get food recall and product safety notices delivered to your inbox or cell phone for free. Visit Click, Check and Protect to sign up.

Find out the facts about sugary drinks, childhood obesity and how these drinks are marketed to kids. Visit PreventObesity.net.

Special Education Updates

Special Education Mandate Relief:
A policy memorandum from NYSED's Office of P-12 Education providing clarification regarding actions taken related to mandate relief and special education is now available. 

Parents, Key Partners in RtI:
Beginning in July 2012, Response to Intervention or RtI will be in place in all schools for Kindergarten to 4th grade. RtI was included in the 2004 passage of the Individuals with Disabilites Education Improvement Act (IDEA) to improve how we identify children with learning disabilities. Schools will not be required to offer RtI in other grade levels. For a review of RtI, differentiated learning plans, and how parents can be engaged, check out the Syracuse University Parent Advocacy Center December 2011 newsletter.

Environmental Watch

2011 saw an unprecedented wave of Congressional challenges to Federal legislation protecting the environment and public health. The House of Representatives voted on over 150 measures intended to impede new or established protection standards for air, soil and water quality, plus the reduction of toxic emissions and other forms of pollution. These attempts are expected to continue, so concerned citizens need to stay informed and be ready to act in support of laws that foster a clean environment.

Updates on the status of laws and regulations can be found through the US EPA and many environmental organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Earthjustice.
January 20, 2012


The Governor on the State of New York

Governor Cuomo's State of the State AddressWhile largely focusing on economic development and political reform, the Governor’s annual State of the State address did touch on a few education topics. Citing a pattern of high spending with inadequate results, the Governor announced his intention to establish a bipartisan education commission tasked to create a “new blueprint for public education” in New York. Priorities for this group will be reforms in the areas of student achievement, teacher accountability and efficiency of school management.

Governor Cuomo also stressed an immediate need for implementing a viable teacher evaluation system, in part to avoid the loss of millions of federal Race to the Top dollars tied to the use of such a system. Elsewhere the Governor has asserted that the new evaluation system currently being negotiated within school districts is “destined to fail” and must be replaced.

Most intriguingly, the Governor announced he was assuming the role of “Students’ Lobbyist” because “everyone in public education” has a lobbyist except students. Hastening to correct this error, NYS PTA President Maria Fletcher wrote to the Governor explaining that NYS PTA has been lobbying for students and all children for well over 100 years and welcomed him as a fellow advocate with his very own PTA membership card.

We look forward to continuing to raise the Governor’s awareness of student advocacy over the coming year.

February Monthly Health Dates

"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."  

Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2011-2012 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings

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