NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs... June 19, 2012

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

The Dignity For All Students Act – Update

July 1, 2012 is the date by which all school districts must implement the Dignity for All Students (DASA) Act, which protects all K-12 students from discrimination, harassment and bullying by other students or school personnel. As a result of the recommendations of the DASA Task Force, of which NYS PTA was a part, the following items were adopted as emergency actions at the May 2012 meeting of the Board of Regents:

• Amendment to 100.2(c), relating to instruction to implement DASA – a notice of Emergency Adoption and Proposed Rule Making was published in the State Register on June 6. Public comment must be received by July 23; and

• New Regulation 100.2(jj), relating to school employee training and DASA – a Notice of Emergency Adoption and Revised Rule Making was published in the State Register on June 6. Public comment must be received by July 6.

For more information and access to these materials, go to: www.p12.nysed.gov/dignityact.

Ask school officials in your community about their plans to implement DASA!

The Price of College

Sparked by the recent revelation that student debt in the US has now passed $1 trillion and the threat that without Congressional action, interest rates on federal student loans will jump from 3.4 % to 6.8% in July, the topic of student loans has filled the media in the past few weeks.
Typical financial aid awards to prospective students are confusing, often mingling various types of loans and grants without explanation. For this reason, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the US Department of Education have devised a “Financial Aid Shopping (FAS) Sheet” for colleges to use for financial aid offers. This tool makes aid packages easier to understand and compare and provides students and their families with a clear understanding of their repayment obligations. A sample FAS sheet is available for perusal and comment here.
To get the latest news on student aid, college debt, and loan repayment and forgiveness, visit The Project on Student Debt and register for updates at: projectonstudentdebt.org

Towards Health and Wellness

A warm winter and wet spring have raised mosquito populations to alarming levels. The NYS Department of Health (DOH) and several counties are working together to raise awareness about Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a serious mosquito-borne disease that can affect both humans and livestock. For information on prevention and detection of EEE, consult the DOH fact sheet here.

With the motto “A cleaner and greener New York is everyone's job,” the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) encourages all New Yorkers to become environmental advocates. To obtain a copy of the DEC Citizen Participation Handbook, go to: www.dec.ny.gov/public/51805.html.

New York State has a new Internet prescription drug monitoring program to control the use and abuse of prescription drugs, a major problem for teens and young adults. The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (I-STOP) was passed unanimously by the Legislature with a speed reflecting widespread concern over this issue. We urge PTA units to familiarize themselves and their communities with provisions of the new law as well as NYS PTA’s position paper, “Prescription and Over the Counter Drug Abuse”. For more details on I-STOP, view the joint statement of Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders here.  
June 19, 2012


New York Students Can’t Afford Congressional Inaction!!

To date, Congress has failed to agree on a plan for the $1.2 trillion in federal savings required to avert sequestration, which will otherwise take effect in January 2013 through the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under sequestration (which withholds money budgeted for Federal spending to use it instead for deficit reduction), automatic, across-the-board budget cuts for the 2013 fiscal year will apply to all discretionary education programs, except Federal Pell Grants for college students. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, funding for such programs will be reduced by 9.1%. Should this occur, more than 7.5 million US students will be affected, and New York State alone will lose $311.01 million in federal education funding, including monies for Title I, Head Start, and Special Education programs.

On Thursday, June 14, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its funding recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2013 Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education bill but did not address this issue. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education is expected to meet on either June 20 or June 21 to consider its FY2013 fiscal recommendations.

Our students cannot afford more cuts to education. Call or write your Congressional delegates and tell them you want action now. You can find legislator contact information on Capwiz at: www.nyspta.org.
"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."  

What’s in the News on Special Education

The NYSED website has some new policy memos about special education which reflect important changes that you need to be aware of. The NYS Education Department has released a policy memo about implementation of the new Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential for students with severe disabilities who are eligible to take the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA). This credential will become effective beginning in the 2013-14 school year and will replace the current IEP diploma. The memo can be read here.

A new study published in Scientific American reports the importance of cognitive and behavioral therapies in the treatment of children with ADHD. The article “Not-So-Quick Fix” can be found here.

The Federal government has recently updated its resource site for information about all disabilities. Be sure to check out education and many other relevant topics at www.disability.gov.

Apple Inc. has announced software changes for the iPhone and the iPad that will make these devices more accessible for children and adults with disabilities. To read more, 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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Albany, NY  12205
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