Advocacy Newsbriefs – April 2017

NYS Budget

The State Budget has been enacted, but know that NYS PTA is here to continue to Lead the Way for ALL children! Please see HERE for a brief statement on the budget.

As to NYS PTA priority issues:

School Aid

  • $1.1 billion was allocated to school aid for pre-K-12 education, including $700 million in Foundation Aid, an increase of 4.4 percent.
  • While NYS PTA is appreciative of this investment, this is below the $2.0 billion ask of NYS PTA and other education groups.
  • There is still approximately $3.6 billion outstanding under the Foundation Aid formula.
  • Increases in funding for both pre-K and afterschool programs were included in the enacted state budget.
  • Total education funding is now at $25.8 billion. NYS PTA will continue to advocate for adequate and equitable school aid and support for ALL children.
  • Charter schools will receive a $500 increase in per pupil tuition and future increases will be tied to percentage in school aid increases.
  • The enacted budget provided an additional $400,000 to fund a second round of Empire State Excellence in Teaching awards.

Career and Technical Education

  • Targeted funding for career and technical education and an increase in reimbursements for CTE teacher salaries were NOT included in the final budget.

Heroin and Opioid Abuse, Prevention and Treatment

  • Increases for heroin and opioid abuse and treatment, including a number of new initiatives that were described in the Executive Budget, were included in the enacted state budget.
  • The overall state investment for these programs is now $200 million.
  • Unfortunately, the proposal to pilot recovery high schools was NOT included in the final budget.
  • This is still a very high priority to NYS PTA and we will continue to work on this issue.

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

  • Proposals to expand the regulation of e-cigarettes and other vaping products was NOT included in the final budget.
  • This continues to be a high priority for NYS PTA as we renew the call for a full ban on the marketing of these products to our youth.

Other Whole Child Issues

  • Legislation that raises the age of juvenile delinquency from age 16- to 17-years-old beginning on October 1, 2018, and raises the age of criminal responsibility to 18-years-old on October 1, 2019, was included in the enacted state budget.
  • The New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit was doubled.
  • The Excelsior Scholarship for college tuition at CUNY/SUNY schools was included in the state budget, with income limits of $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.

Region Advocacy and Events

Central Hudson Region:

Central Hudson Region’s Annual Legislation Education Breakfast has become a highly anticipated event each spring in the lower Hudson Valley. Legislators and PTA advocates welcome the opportunity for another dialogue on critical issues in public education. The March 4, 2017 event took place at a particularly sensitive time, generating relevant discussions covering a large scope of topics.

Featured keynote speaker, Beth Berlin, Executive Deputy Commissioner of Education, candidly shared how NYSED is juggling the work on soliciting stakeholder feedback and finalizing new education standards, testing strategies and teacher evaluations in light of an only preliminary State Executive Budget and the unpredictability the new education leadership in Washington has brought, among many other challenges. Following her well received presentation, Ms. Berlin, along with Stan Hansen, NYSED’s Assistant Commissioner and Executive Director of Postsecondary Access, Support and Success (OPASS), participated in a moderated panel discussion, which also included Assemblymembers Ellen Jaffee and James Skoufis, NYS PTA Executive Director Kyle Belokopitsky, and Congressmember Nita Lowey, covering topics ranging from ESSA and the House of Representatives HR610, to more local challenges facing region districts, such as North Rockland’s crippling tax debt.

The event at Suffern’s Crowne Plaza was well attended by several district superintendents, administrators, teachers, parents and students. Attendees left with many positive messages vowing to continue their much needed advocacy for all children at local, state and federal platforms. Flash drives containing an array of NYS PTA advocacy materials were once again a popular take away. For event photos click here.

Westchester East Putnam Region (WEPR):

This month, WEPR members focused on sending as many emails, tweets and other correspondence to Governor Cuomo and legislators via the NYS PTA advocacy page reminding members to advocate for better education funding at the state level.

Some districts set up their own online petition and sent postcards to Albany. Yonkers also had an article published in local paper, which you can read here. Yonkers also coordinated with Kyle to deliver hundreds of postcards signed by parents and community members to the NYS Senate and Assembly.

Our Spring Conference is Friday, May 5. Our keynote speaker is United States Congressmember Nita Lowey.


Family Engagement

NY House Members Sign Letter of Support for Statewide Family Engagement Centers

88 national and state organizations — including 52 PTA state congresses — signed onto a letter to support funding Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) at $10 million in fiscal year 2018. The letter was sent to all Representatives and their staff on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) appropriations subcommittee.

One of the Hill Asks at the 2017 Legislative Conference was to ask your member of Congress to sign a Dear Colleague letter in support of funding SFECs in fiscal year 2018. As of the House holiday session break, PTA was able to garner a bipartisan group of 46 Representatives to sign on!

This is a huge accomplishment that could not be done without all of our members hard work and advocacy efforts. Please give a huge congrats to our NYS PTA Team for their efforts in DC — they were successful with getting four House members to sign on. If you are a constituent of Representatives Tonko, Rice, King or Suozzi, please be sure to send a message of thanks!

Great job, NY! Here is the final House SFECs Dear Colleague letter that was submitted to the L-HHS-ED committee by Representative DeSaulnier’s office. If your member of Congress signed this letter, please thank them via email and on social media.

An identical organization sign on letter will be sent later this month to Senators and their staff on the L-HHS-ED appropriations subcommittee. Let’s make sure Senators Schumer and Gillibrand join our House members and sign on!


Education

Summary of April Board of Regents Meeting can be found here. https://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings

ARTS Pathway Moving Forward – Leslie Yolen (the only NYSED staffer working on the ARTS pathway) and Regent Tilles presented the Strategic Plan for the ARTS pathway. The presentation highlighted the need for funding, equitable access to teaching and programs across the state, teaching both for appreciation of the ARTS across grade levels and for those seeking to perform, and the need to address what is considered ART both culturally and expressively. You can review the plan and PowerPoint here. Watch the video discussion here.

ELL Scoring Appeal – A technical amendment to appealing a Regents score by ELL/ENL students was introduced. Appeals for ELL can be made for scores between 55-59, while all students can appeal scores of 60-64. Look for an announcement of the 45-day comment period and web link for comment.

Pre-K ELL Language Screening – with the expansion of pre-K, students need to be screened for home language and the recommendation is using “Emergent Multilingual Learners Language Profile for Prekindergarten Students” to identify students who speak other languages than English at home. This PowerPoint outlines the beliefs guiding ELL/ENL early education, data and practice/protocol recommended by the Committee for Bilingual Education in Preschool Programs.

The NYS ESSA Plan Update which was postponed in March was presented in multiple sections at this meeting. This comprehensive review was presented in multiple sections. The deadline for submission of the Plan is September 18, 2017 with the September board meeting as last opportunity for final approvals from the Regents. Click here for more.

This Ready to Read PowerPoint illustrates the program, plus locations where the program will be introduced and supported in NYS libraries. Early literacy supports in communities and online are seen as key links to improving access and literacy before children enter the school system. Ask about how your PTA can promote and support this effort in your community.

Hunter College proposed an SED pilot program to certify Highly Qualified Computer Science Teachers

Cambridge, Hudson Falls and Washington-Warren-Saratoga Hamilton-Essex County BOCES consortia are engaged in aClassroom Academy Residency Pilot Program where students will be able to participate in a two-year full time internship in the partnering school district during their program at Plattsburgh. While enrolled in the residency program, student candidates will be eligible to receive a time-limited Residency Certificate that will allow them to teach in the partnering district. At the same time, candidates will be partnered with a teacher mentor from the partnering district who will provide instructional support. Read more here.

Upcoming NYS Board of Regents meetings can be found here.


Special Education

Supreme Court rules to support students with disabilities: The US Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision (Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District) on March 22 that will have major implications for special education. The court ruled that a school district must provide students with disabilities with more than a minimal benefit from the services that are provided. Additional information can be found here.

SED Looking for Public Comment: There are differences in New York State Law, Regulations, and Policy that are not required by the federal government. Each year the state must report those differences to the federal government. The document is now available for public comment and can be found here.

DASA and Immigrant Students: Recently issued guidance on the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) and on the rights of immigrant students is now available in the top 20 languages spoken in New York. Parents, guardians and other interested individuals can access this critical guidance here.

“Light It Up Blue”: April is Autism Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to spread autism awareness/acceptance in schools/community. See awareness events section for more resources. “Sesame Street” has welcomed a new character, Julia, who just happens to have autism. Her first appearance was on April 10. Check it out here.


Wellness

Problem Gambling Prevention Toolkit: The NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the NYS Education Department launched a Problem Gambling Prevention Toolkit, to be used in New York’s school districts. This new Toolkit can be used by school administrators, educators, pupil personnel services, parent-teacher associations, parents and community groups to teach students and parents about preventing underage gambling. The toolkit also provides helpful information about how to start conversations with young people about the risks associated with gambling. Click here for the toolkit.

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Youth: The NYS Department of Health developed a one page snapshot of the report from the Surgeon General highlighting the increase use of ENDS in high school students in NYS. ENDS are now the most commonly used tobacco product surpassing, cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookah. To download the summary, click here.

NYS Senate Bill S5266, sponsored by NYS Senator Brad Hoylman, prohibits the low-cost or no-cost promotion of flavored electronic cigarettes by any entity other than a manufacturer. This bill is looking to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. The bill is currently in the Health Committee. Read and track the bill here.


Upcoming Awareness Events

April

Alcohol Awareness Month
National Autism Awareness Month
National Child Abuse Prevention Month
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
National Donate Life Month
National Facial Protection Month
National Minority Health Month
Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month

May

Arthritis Awareness Month
Better Hearing and Speech Month
Clean Air Month
Food Allergy Action Month
Global Youth Traffic Safety Month
Healthy Vision Month
Hepatitis Awareness Month
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Mental Health Month
National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
National Bike Safety Month
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

The NYS PTA Wellness Team has developed a Wellness Toolkit and Calendar to help your unit, council or region plan programs, advocacy and fundraising efforts. Each month connects to events and websites where you can gather information for activities or to research an article for your members. There is also a connection to New York State PTA positions to help your advocacy efforts.