Advocacy Newsbriefs – August 2016

Coming Soon: NYS PTA Calendar of Advocacy Activities and Membership Communications

You can kick off the new school year with a renewed focus on advocacy!

We are excited to share a new membership email on Friday August 19! All members will receive this email every other week. It will contain critical information for you and your family, including a regular section on advocacy.

We created an advocacy resource, a month-by-month Advocacy Calendar. These suggestions are easy to accomplish recommendations about how you can advocate. Check it out here.


Keep Up-to-Date on Legislation

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) was recently passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives then signed by President Obama. This major federal substance use disorder recovery legislation addresses the current opioid epidemic including prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform and overdose reversal. The White House released a statement; read it here.


Region Corner

Senator Michael Venditto Committed to Addressing Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Youth Following Meeting with Nassau Region PTA Advocacy Team

 

Nassau Region PTA members, including Region Director Pat Assortato, Sarah Henris, Susanne Smoller, Lucille Vitale, Veronica Goldberg, Patrice Rachlin and Youth Member Jordan Steckler, met with NYS Senator Michael Venditto regarding e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and youth on August 4, 2016.

After a very informative meeting, following previous discussions on this issue, Senator Venditto indicated interest in working with NYS PTA to draft legislation to address concerns about ENDS. Further, the team discussed joint advocacy and events surrounding this issue, as well as reaching out to the congressional delegation on Long Island to engage them on possible federal advocacy.

Amazing work by the Nassau Advocacy Team, from advocating for the National e-cigarette resolution, to bringing this advocacy back home to New York.


Education

Monthly Meeting with Education Commissioner

NYS PTA President Bonnie Russell, Executive Director Kyle Belokopitsky, and Education Coordinator Catherine Romano had a productive monthly meeting with NYS Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia on August 8.

They discussed critical items facing students, families and schools, including NYS PTA’s ESSA comments, state aid planning and school aid, tax cap, family engagement, My Brother’s Keeper funding and SED communications.

President Russell and Ms. Belokopitsky also met with Assistant Commissioner Emily DeSantis on August 3 to discuss increased communications between SED and parents.

These monthly meetings with the NYS Education Department (NYSED) are critical to share information, and to ensure increased parent involvement in decision-making. More specific information can be found below.

ESSA

On August 1, 2016, NYSED released a newsbrief on NYSED’s first ESSA comments to the US Department of Education (DOE) here.

Read NYSED’s full response to the draft rulemaking here.

Read DOE’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here.

As a reminder, NYS PTA submitted extensive comments on ESSA regulations; read them here.

The NYS PTA press release on this matter can be viewed here.

The DOE released the second set of guidance rules on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that deal with Title I, Part A and Part B (assessment) and guidance on homeless students. We anticipate that NYS PTA will submit formal comments on the regulations regarding assessment by the September 9, 2016 deadline.

ELA/Math Test Results Released

NYSED has released the grades 3-8 statewide ELA and Math results, with a caution that these results cannot be compared to past results, due to changes in the state assessment, timing, and participation rates. The individual student reports should be released to districts and parents within the next few weeks, so be prepared to discuss the implications of the results with your school leadership and classroom teacher as school opens.

Click here for Commissioner Elia’s press conference on ELA and Math results.

A summary of the test results, as well as individual school and district results, is available here.

75% of the 2016 ELA and Math Questions Released

NYSED also released 75% of the 2016 ELA and Math Assessment questions, along with a Q & A document to explain the released test questions and results.

Please click here for questions and more information.

Click here for questions translated in Spanish and Chinese.


Special Education

Local Diploma: The Board of Regents approved an amendment to Section 100.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education to require superintendents to make a local determination as to the academic proficiency for eligible students with disabilities to graduate with a local diploma. Also (since June 2016) a student may graduate with a regular high school diploma if they complete various credit and other requirements. In addition, the regulations were revised to expand the opportunity to earn the CDOS Commencement Credential to all students, not just students with disabilities. Additional information and related documents can be found at:

IDEA: The US Department of Education has issued a document reminding school districts of the importance of providing positive behavioral supports under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students with disabilities. Additional information can be found at the Rethinking Discipline page on the US Dept. of Education website here.

One of the biggest areas that affect students with disabilities is the development of workforce readiness skills. The US Department of Labor has released a curriculum document that focuses on teaching “Soft Skills” to kids with disabilities. The document can be found here.

The 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was marked on July 26. To learn more about this groundbreaking legislation, click here.


Wellness

Zika Update: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been recently informed by the state of Florida that four cases of Zika virus were likely caused by a bite by local mosquitos. These cases are the first local mosquito-borne Zika transmission in the continental United States. Most people infected with Zika won’t have any symptoms or their symptoms will be mild. However, being infected with Zika during pregnancy can cause serious fetal birth defects including microcephaly. View the CDC Zika webpage here.

The CDC  has developed interim guidance for districts and school administrators in the continental US and Hawaii regarding response planning for Zika virus. These guidelines will provide school districts information on what steps to take if a student or staff member contracts the Zika virus. Read what the CDC recommends here.

The New York State Department of Health also has information about Zika here. The Zika information hotline is 1-888-364-4723 (Monday-Friday 9-5pm).

Getting to Zero HIV Infections: Governor Cuomo announced that New York State is on track to reduce the number of new HIV infections to 750 by the year 2020. This new information from NYS Department of Health also shows that the number of new HIV infections has fallen to a record low of fewer than 2,500. Read more here.

Asthma – Much lower rates found among traditional vs. industrial farming families: Recently, many news sources reported on the remarkable study in the New England Journal of Medicine of asthma and house dust allergens. The study compared the evidence of allergic response among children and the allergens in house dust in an Indiana Amish and South Dakota Hutterite community. These groups have similar lifestyles and genetics, but very different farming methods. Whether it is biological or environmental, it is important to be educated about the care and possible lifestyle changes to address asthma for your family. For more information, click here.

Local School Wellness Policy and Smart Snacks Final Rules: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has posted the four final rules of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA). The focus is on consistent healthy snacks and nutrition standards for school meal programs across the country. To read more, click here.


August-September Awareness Events

August

August 17 – September 5: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
August 31: International Overdose Awareness Day

September

National Recovery from Substance Use and Mental Health Month
Childhood Cancer Month
National Preparedness Month
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

To view the entire 2016 Wellness Calendar, click here.