NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... April 19, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

From the Capital to the Classroom

Members of NYS PTA and partner organizations lobbied strongly to increase funding of general aid to schools in the 2012-13 state budget, and legislators got the message. The final budget took $200 million of the $250 million the governor had proposed for competitive grants and put it into “foundation formula” general operating aid for all school districts, one of NYS PTA’s main Virtual Lobby Day goals. School districts across the state are already seeing the benefits, as they can preserve staff or programs threatened in their 2012-13 school budgets. Other positive budget features include the creation of a state grant to offset the school districts’ costs in implementing the new teacher evaluation system, and the failure of a plan to shift pre-school special education and other state-funded expenses onto local schools. For the first time since 2008, funding for four-year state colleges and universities was not cut, and funding for community colleges saw a modest increase.

SE Safeguards in Translation

Parents of a student with a disability have a legal right to participate in the school’s discussion and decision-making process about their child’s special education needs, and procedural safeguards have been put into place to protect such parental involvement. Notice of these procedural safeguards must be provided to parents at least once per year. Translations of the mandatory Revised Procedural Safeguards Notice are now available on the NYSED website in Spanish, Russian, Haitian Creole, Korean and Chinese. Click here to view all the versions in printable PDF format
Keeping TrackThe US Department of Agriculture created the ChooseMyPlate.gov website to help families choose healthy, nutritious foods for their daily meals. Now the site has added SuperTracker, a free tool that empowers consumers with the “how-tos” to build healthier plates by analyzing and tracking their diet and physical activity.

CDC on Family Health and SafetyThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer several new resources for family health.
The factsheet “Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health” can be found by clicking here.

The CDC also maintains the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which monitors health-risk behaviors among youth, including violence, substance abuse, sexual behaviors, obesity and physical inactivity. The national, state and local YRBSS 2011 results will be released in early summer of 2012. Click here for more information.

Finally, April is STD Awareness Month. In line with this issue, the CDC now has Get Yourself Tested (GYT) kits, part of an annual campaign to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, a growing problem among youth. Brochures, factsheets and other resources on prevention and treatment are available by clicking here.

Promoting Family Engagement

One of National PTA’s highest priorities is passage of the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2011 (H.R. 1821/S.941). Based on research demonstrating that family engagement in a child’s education increases student achievement and improves graduation rates, NPTA continues to lead the fight for passage of this bill, which calls for increased funding of Title I programs, implementation of standards-based policies and practices for family-school partnerships, and reauthorization and improvement of Parental Information Resource Centers (PIRCs).
For additional information on the Family Engagement in Education Act, contact NPTA: Jacque Chevalier, National PTA Senior Policy Strategist.
To get this bill passed, contact your members of Congress to urge their support. (Names & contact information are available through NYS PTA’s Capwiz.)
April 19, 2012


Putting APPR into Action

February brought a sigh of relief when teachers and the NYS Education Department agreed on a new evaluation system to be implemented by January 2013. Under the provisions of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), teachers will be evaluated yearly and rated on a 100-point scale as highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective.

One of the most contentious issues around the APPR is whether individual teacher evaluations should be made public, and if so, to whom. While Governor Cuomo and legislators claim a parent’s “right to know” teachers’ evaluations, other legislators maintain that evaluations are a tool for teachers and administrators to engage in professional improvement and should be kept confidential as other personnel records are.

Under a new bill (A09822) sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, teacher evaluations could not made public unless opened by court order or written teacher request. (See assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A09822 for text and action on this bill.)

Majorities on both sides of the issue agree that evaluations should be strictly off limits to the media and general public. How that goal of confidentiality could be achieved if results were released to parents is sure to generate hot debate over the coming months.

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

Changes to Education Law Section 3020-a

The 2012 state budget bill included several reforms to Section 3020-a. On April 4, 2012, the State Education Department released a memo to the field regarding these changes. A copy of the memo may be accessed on NYSSBA's website by clicking here.

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