NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs
NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs – March 2015

NYS PTA Advocacy Newsbriefs

In This Issue

In the Spotlight


Support public schools
New York State Budget
At the end of January, Governor Cuomo released his budget and reform agenda in a document called the 2015 Opportunity Agenda. Find sections related to Education (starts p. 193) and Child Nutrition (p. 158), among a variety of other legislative proposals.

A Controversy in the Governor’s Reform Agenda is Teacher and Administrator Evaluation
Strong examples from several school districts of how scoring of teachers in evaluations was drafted and revised, and why independent evaluators are not the answer to making evaluations better, can be read about here.

Low-Performing School District “Oversight”
Poor performance and governance issues in East Ramapo, one of the lowest-performing school districts in New York, have led to sponsored legislation that outlines the role of a “monitor” and how that role would function in this district. This article, by co-sponsor Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, contains a link to bill A05355.

Board of Regents Seats
It has been announced that the NYS Board of Regents will have four new members, two of whom are taking incumbents’ seats. For more information, click here.

Helen Bach Moss Memorial Better Beginnings Award
The NYS Education Department’s Better Beginnings Award “recognizes elementary teachers who are gifted in finding and nurturing the strengths of each student and fostering trusting relationships among pupils, parents, teachers and administrators.” It was established to honor “the life and career of Helen Bach Moss, a New York State Educator who passed away in 1988.”

Nominees “must be currently teaching at the elementary level (PreK-6) in a New York State public or private school, and be appropriately credentialed in New York State,” and nominations are due by April 3.

To learn more about the award and the process of nominating a teacher, click here.

Special Education News

Special education
New NYSED Website Postings
Two important documents have been posted on the NYS Education Department (NYSED) website for parents and educators.

The first is a field advisory memo regarding a change to NYS Education Law which becomes effective on July 1, 2015. Public schools will be required to notify every parent of their rights regarding referral and evaluation of their child for the purposes of special education services or programs upon their child’s enrollment in public school. The link to the memo can be found here.

The second document is New York’s annual application to the federal government, listing the differences in NYS law, regulations and policy that are NOT REQUIRED by federal law, regulations and policy. THESE DIFFERENCES ARE OFTEN THE BASIS FOR DEMANDING MANDATE RELIEF. The document has been posted for public review/comment for 60 days, until April 19, 2015. The link to the document can be found here.

The Empowering Parents and Students Through Information Act
US Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have introduced legislation, “The Empowering Parents and Students Through Information Act” (S.528), that will allow parents of children with the most significant cognitive disabilities to have more information about their educational options and, it is hoped, help them make more informed decisions for their children. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Click here to read more.

Disability.gov, the Federal government website that provides information on disability programs and services nationwide for children and adults, has several resource guides on a variety of subjects, including rights and laws. These guides can be found here.

Advocacy Tip of the Month

Tip of the Month April 15 is the Deadline…
…to submit new resolutions for Convention 2015. Find all instructions and forms you need on the “How to Write a Resolution” section of the NYS PTA website here.

Send any questions to Dana Platin, NYS PTA Legislation/Resolutions Coordinator, at legislation.resolutions@nyspta.org.

Family EngagementBaby advocate

Winning Beginning NY
This coalition for the early care and learning of children offers many advocacy toolkits and resources here.

Juvenile Protection

Sexual assault on college campuses
Cuomo Launches Statewide Campaign: “Enough is Enough”
Governor Cuomo and his administration will launch a statewide campaign, “Enough is Enough,” to combat sexual assaults on college campuses by creating a statewide definition of affirmative consent. Read more here.


Read Across America
Read Across America
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
(Emilie Buchwald)

Increase literacy efforts in your community by promoting the National Education Association’s Read Across America campaign during the month of March.

March 2015
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In the Spotlight

Group Wants to Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility in New York

Jail cell
Currently only two states, New York and North Carolina, automatically prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. Advocates are pushing for reforms to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Read more here.

Read the governor’s proposals for raising the age of criminal responsibility here.


March is National Nutrition Month – Take the #GimmeFive Challenge
This challenge commemorates the 5th anniversary of the Let’s Move Campaign!
First Lady Michelle Obama is “challenging everyone to #GimmeFive things they are doing to eat better, be more active, and lead a healthier life! Share what you're doing to lead a healthier life on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook or Tumblr using #GimmeFive, and then be sure to pass on the challenge to someone else!” Find out more here.
New Study on Decreased Plate Waste in School Lunches
The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (a workshop presenter at our Convention), has released a study that “showed that students ate more fruit and threw away less of their entrees and vegetables following the implementation of the new healthier school meal standards. This exciting news shows that the new standards – which have been successfully implemented by more than 90 percent of schools – are helping students eat healthier.” Read more here.

Lawmakers Try Again to Pass ‘Toxic Toy’ Bill
Republican Senator Phil Boyle and Democratic Assemblyman Steve Englebright have reintroduced legislation to ban the use of toxic chemicals in children’s toys, which failed in the state Senate last year. For more, click here.

Healthy School Environment Update
According to the Healthy Schools Network, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Design for the Environment Program has released the “Safer Choice” about products label. To learn how this impacts your schools, click here.

To read the state-by-state report “Towards Healthy Schools 2015: Progress on America’s Environmental Health Crisis for Children,” click here.

National Healthy Schools Day Planning Resources
National Healthy School Day is April 7, during National Public Health Week. This is an opportunity for schools and PTAs to create grassroots efforts on healthy school environments. Look for activities and ideas here.

You can register your planned activity and highlight your efforts here.
School Emergency Planning Resources Now Available
According to the US Department of Education, the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center supports schools, school districts and institutions of higher education in developing high-quality emergency operations plans (EOPs).

The REMS TA Center recently developed three new Interactive Tools to assist schools and community partners in their emergency planning efforts: EOP Assess; EOP Assist: EOP Evaluate. To learn more about these tools and share them with your local districts, click here.

Voices from the Field: Helping Teens Engage in Healthy Relationships
“This month’s Voices from the Field are about how teenagers learn to engage in healthy relationships. Click here to learn what experts think and share how your school has promoted healthy relationships in this month’s Voices from the Field!”

Dietary Guidelines for Americans Seeking Public Comments
The US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture jointly publish Dietary Guidelines every 5 years. They are now in their public comment period. This gives you as a consumer an opportunity to give input into their recommendations. To review the report and give comments through April 8, click here.

Updates from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Drug-free kid
To get the latest updates on your own computer, subscribe to Stay Informed here.

Online E-Cigarette Vendors Are Not Checking Ages

According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, “Teens are easily able to purchase e-cigarettes online because websites that sell the devices do not verify the age of purchasers.” To read the complete article, click here.

Please share this information with your membership, along with the e-cigarette resolution approved at this past NYS PTA Convention.

Alcopops Increase Risk of Teen Injury
The American Journal of Public Health has released a study showing the teens who consume the supersized alcohol drink alcopops are at a greater risk for alcohol-related injuries. The “three types of alcopops” include: “malt-based flavored beverages (such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice); spirits-based premixed, ready-to-drink cocktails (such as Jack Daniel’s cocktails); and supersized alcopops (including Four Loko or Joose). Supersized alcohol beverages can contain the equivalent of between four and five alcoholic drinks.” To read the entire article, click here.

Drunk Driving and Restraint Use
As we move into spring and prom season, people will take to the roads more often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed new state-specific fact sheets on drunk driving and restraint use. PTAs can use these fact sheets to highlight strategies on reducing and preventing drunk driving and using seat belts, car seats and booster seats.

These easily downloadable documents can be placed on PTA websites, linked to newsletters, and emailed to members. To view the NY State Fact Sheet on drunk driving, click here.

To download the Restraint Use NY Fact Sheet, click here.
Did You Know...
The NYS Board of Regents meets monthly, except for August. To access the 2015 meeting schedule, agendas, materials and webcast opportunities, go to: www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings.

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