NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... April 2013

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

Staying Well: Events and Contests

May 25 National Missing Children’s Day
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has partnered with National PTA for the Take 25 Campaign in observance of National Missing Children’s Day. Take 25 is a campaign that focuses on adults taking 25 minutes to talk with kids about safety issues. When you register your PTA for this event, you will get a downloadable organizer kit. Click here for more information.

A Healthy Lunchtime Challenge
Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ “State Dinner” invites parents or guardians and their children ages 8-12 to create and submit an original lunch recipe that is healthy, tasty and affordable. Winners will be flown to the nation’s capital with an opportunity to attend a Kids’ “State Dinner” hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. Recipes can be submitted online or by mail April 3 through May 12, and winners will be notified at the end of June. More information and contest rules here.

National PTA Healthy Lifestyles Grant Returning
National PTA has announced that beginning May 7, funding will be available for Healthy Lifestyles Grants. Twenty-five $2000 grants will be offered to fund local PTA projects that focus on the Energy Balance 101 curriculum targeting grades Pre K – 5. The timeline for the projects is October 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014. National PTA will provide a planning guide with tools and templates and offer a webinar on the grant in May. More information is at: www.pta.org.

Fire Up Your Feet
National PTA and Safe Routes to School are working together with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to develop an activity-based fundraiser called Fire Up Your Feet. This is a fun and healthy event that brings school communities, students, families, and PTAs together to get healthy, share quality time, and raise funds for PTAs and schools. Follow National PTA’s link to complete information and webinars here, or go directly to www.fireupyourfeet.org.

CDC Hepatitis C Testing Day
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “preparations for the second annual observance of Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19 are underway.” To find out how you can play a role to make testing day a success, click here.

Mastering Life Skills

Soft skills are the interpersonal skills that an employee needs to be successful on the job. As New York State moves to ensure that its high school graduates are college and career ready, it will be important for them to acquire skills in communication, decision-making, interpersonal relations, and lifelong learning. Parents can play a role in helping their children develop these vital skills. Click here for more info.

A Safer Environment

Approximately 85,000 chemicals are in use in the US today. Studies have found more than 200 different industrial chemicals, some with known links to birth defects and serious illnesses, are present in the bodies of Americans, even newborns. Yet the Toxic Substances Control Act that regulates chemical safety is almost 40 years old and does little to meet current health and safety concerns. The Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 (S. 696) recently introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Frank Lautenberg (NJ) aims to address this problem. Among its reforms: the law would greatly expand the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate new and existing chemicals, and manufacturers would have to prove that chemicals are safe before they could be sold (currently they are assumed to be safe). For more information on this bill:

Seeking Justice for Child Victims

New York State law has a five-year statute of limitations on prosecutions for sex abuse and molestation of children. Unfortunately, because many victims do not reveal the abuse until years later when they are adults, perpetrators may go unpunished. The Child Victim's Act (A.1771/ S.03809), sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and Senator Eric Adams, would eliminate such limitations and permit legal action against an alleged sex offender at any time if the sexual abuse was suffered by a child under the age of 18. In addition, the law would create a one-year period in which any adult who was a child victim, but had been prevented from legal action by the statute of limitations, would be able to file a lawsuit against his or her abuser. Read the bill here.
April 2013
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In the Spotlight

The Power of Partnerships

How is your school doing? Great? Fine? OK?

What do we actually ask when we pose this question? Are we asking about student achievement? Teacher quality? Strength of courses or extracurricular programs?
How is your school doing at engaging and involving students’ families? What could you base this assessment on? These are better questions to ask if you want to determine how families can help to improve their children’s education. National PTA has created a survey that families and PTAs can use to assess how well their school does at partnering with them for student success. Click here for the survey.

Are parents ever reluctant to participate at your school? Asking ALL parents/families for their opinions and perceptions is the first step in engaging them; it may be the first time they have been asked! Share the information you gather and encourage parents and families to take part in strengthening the partnership at your school. Asking the right questions now will provide the information you need to make meaningful changes for next year.
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News and Notes on Special Education

This time of the school year is famous or infamous for being “IEP Season.” Every year meetings are held to discuss the progress of each special education student and to make recommendations for the upcoming school year. One of the major components of IDEA is parent and student participation in this planning. This process can be very stressful for parents, students and educators, but help is available through the following links: The NYS Education Department has issued two memos regarding Special Education. One deals with a school district’s responsibility to obtain parent consent prior to billing Medicaid or other public issuance benefits for special education services. The second deals with students with disabilities who are participating in the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA). It is important that parents understand how these issues could impact their children.
Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2013 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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