Advocacy Meeting at NYS PTA Convention

At the NYS PTA Convention breakfast on November 13, Key, Local and Region Advocacy Partners attending Convention who have previously participated in a Lobby Day in Albany and Region Legislation/Advocacy Chairs are invited to meet to discuss current and future statewide advocacy efforts.

This meeting will include an informal discussion on how to strengthen advocacy in our regions, units and councils across the state. What happens before and after Lobby Day? What are the local goals for advocacy? What can NYS PTA do to assist your region/council/unit with its advocacy efforts?

Please RSVP to Legislation Coordinator Susanne Smoller at by October 30.

Legislation Update

Lead in Water Legislation

Governor Cuomo recently signed landmark legislation mandating that schools across New York test drinking water for lead contamination. Additionally, the NYS Department of Health (DOH)  issued emergency regulations, pursuant to this new legislation, that will require school districts to test their water for lead by October 31, 2016. The school districts must then report the results to parents, DOH and local government officials.

These new regulations will reduce the risk of exposure to lead, which is a toxic material that is extremely harmful to young children, and can result in lowered IQ, behavioral problems and brain damage.

Read more on these new regulations here.

EpiPen Costs

NYS Senator Hannan has introduced bill S8189, which would address the drastic increase in the cost of the life saving anaphylaxis epinephrine injectors, namely EpiPen. According to Hannon, the manufacturer, Mylan Pharmaceutical, has continued to raise the price of the injectors, with one recent 75 percent increase bringing the cost to more than $600.

Under this legislation, a family can request their pharmacist dispense the less expensive generic version of the drug, without having to request a new prescription from the prescriber. Anaphylaxis, which can be triggered by allergies to food, bee stings and certain medications, can be life threatening if not treated immediately.

Read more about this bill here.

Advocacy Opportunity

Comments on the NYS Learning Standards

The recommendations for revising the NYS English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Standards are available for commentary. It is recommended that PTA members visit the website to comment on a grade level for ELA and/or Math before November 14, 2016. If you feel uncomfortable doing so individually, NYSED recommends gathering a group of five to six to submit comments. You can try to gather educators and parents, using this document for planning your conversation.

Download the draft standards for the group’s grade level or course. It is recommended you print and read the Standards Recommendations by grade level before entering the survey.

Individual comments can be made by subject and grade level: ELA or Math.


Free College: Dream or Possibility?

As candidates and legislators offer the idea of free college tuition, research by the Campaign for Free College Tuition projects the state by state costs and tax revenue needed to cover the lost revenue. Read more here.

Board of Regents

The October Regents meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 17 and Tuesday, October 18. Materials should be available on Friday, October 14 after 4:30pm here.

School Funding Court Cases

Campaign for Education Equity leads the legal team suing New York State on behalf of students who have not received the court mandated “equitable foundation funding” for students. Read more here.

New York’s small cities filed a court case alleging the state systematically underfunded their schools. The judge decided in favor of NYS, so the case will soon head to the Court of Appeals. Click here for more.

Schools that were listed in 2015 as “persistently struggling” were promised two years of funding. In 2016 some schools were removed from the “persistently struggling” designation. Therefore these schools did not receive the second year funding. Parents in these schools are collaborating on a lawsuit to recoup the promised funding for their schools. Read more here.

In Connecticut, a recent court decision similar to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was heard and decided in favor of the plaintiffs. The decision summary cites: “Using this “rationality standard,’ Judge Moukawsher held that Connecticut’s current school funding formula, its academic content standards and graduation requirements, its teacher evaluation and compensation systems and its program for special education were all irrational and needed to be substantially revised.” Click here for more.

Special Education

US Supreme Court to Hear Students With Disabilities Case

The US Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The main issue is IDEA’s mandate that students with disabilities are provided FAPE (free appropriate public education). The ruling would not come down until next year but could have serious implications as to how services and instruction are provided throughout the country. The Supreme Court blog with additional information can be found here.


is an important skill that students with disabilities need to be successful. The federal government has allocated $2 million over the next five years to create the first-ever National Resource Center for Self-Advocacy. The site will focus on best practices, a training curriculum and self-advocacy success stories. Information can be found here.


On July 21, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (A09171/S08101) that adjusted the current ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Law with regard to tax regulations. Recently in Washington, two pieces of legislation were sent to the full Senate for consideration. Both bills should make it easier for individuals/families to place money in their ABLE accounts. Information can be found here.

Emergency Plans for People With Disabilities

For the families of kids with disabilities, emergencies can present a real challenge. It is important for parents of students with disabilities to create a plan for emerge. The federal government has several websites with resources to assist parents.

Child’s Developmental Milestones

The Centers for Disease Control has a page for parents to track their child’s development and act early if there is a concern. There are numerous FREE resources and tools. The information can be found here.


Updating of HIV/AIDS NYSED Curriculum and Teacher Training

Lawmakers are asking NYSED to update HIV/AIDS curriculum and revise teacher training. Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, a sponsor of the Dignity for All Students Act, wants to change the way teachers are trained to detect bullying and harassment and to improve HIV/AIDS education in high schools.

First, Assemblyman O’Donnell wants to change the current 6-hour course that teachers take on detecting harassment, bullying and discrimination prevention and intervention to a full semester course.

The second recommendation is to update the current curriculum for teaching HIV and AIDS education in schools, which he says is “outdated and medically inaccurate.”

Read the letter to the NYSED Commissioner here.

Insurance Plans and Opioid Pills

A coalition of lawmakers, police and addiction experts are encouraging Governor Cuomo to sign a bill that would require insurance companies to pay for opioid pills that are harder to crush and liquefy, therefore making them harder to abuse. This coalition is urging insurance companies to cover these abuse-deterrent drugs at the same level as they cover non-abuse deterrent opioid drugs.

Senator George Amedore, who serves as co-Chair of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, states, “often, addiction begins with the misuse or abuse of prescription pain medications. It’s important to embrace new technologies, make sure they are accessible and affordable for patients, and ultimately we will be able to cut down on the abuse of prescription pain medications that can lead to addiction.”

The text of the bills can be found here. Read more on this here.

Family Engagement

Parent Teacher Conferences

What you should ask? Advocate for Children of New York has developed a list of parent-teacher conference questions. Remember, parent-teacher conferences are often the first form of advocacy you do for your children. Read more here.

October-December Awareness Events

October 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month
National Bullying Prevention Month
ADHD Awareness Month
Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Learning Disabilities Awareness Month
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
National Cyber Security Awareness Month + toolkit
October 16: World Food Day
October 23-31: Red Ribbon Week

November 2016

American Diabetes Month
November 1 – January 1, 2017: Tie One On For Safety Campaign
November 14-20: National Get Smart About Antibiotics Week
November 17: Great American Smokeout
November 19: International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

December 2016

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
Safe Toys and Gifts Month
December 1: World AIDS Day
December 4-10: National Influenza Vaccination Week

To view the entire 2016 Wellness Calendar, click here.