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February 2015

Upcoming Events

February-March 2015

Legislation/Education Conference, Albany, NY

March 2015

Lobby Day, Albany, NY

March 2015

Virtual Lobby Day

July 2015

Summer Leadership Conference, Utica, NY

Hot Topics in Education
Bonnie Russell, President

The past few weeks have been an intense time for the education community here in New York. As you are aware, the governor and his office have launched a campaign to connect education reforms to the budget. They do not plan to release the aid runs until legislators accept ALL reforms.

As we have very strong opinions about the majority of these proposed reforms, we have responded with the following:

  • A response letter to Mr. Malatras from the governor's office. Click here to read our message.
  • A post to The Voice of New York State PTA in direct response to his State of the State address. Click here to read this message.
  • A letter we signed onto as a member of the Educational Conference Board (ECB) to the governor requesting them to not hold the state aid runs to schools hostage in return for acceptance of all education reforms. Click here to read our message.

NYS PTA Direction on Opting-Out of Testing
In the past few weeks as many organizations respond to the proposed reforms, we have been asked for direction from our association concerning opting-out of testing. Neither we nor National PTA currently have a position specifically about this. However, as it connects to our current positions, we offer the following direction.

In reference to questions about families who choose to refuse the state tests, we believe that every parent/family has the right to make decisions based on what they believe are in the best interest of their own children.

That being said, state assessments were intended to identify how schools/grade levels performed against all schools, and how similar schools performed and can provide valuable information about your child to determine if they need additional support services.

In reference to local school district policies that address this issue, we recommend that families work collaboratively with their administration to work out a plan for the child that is agreeable to both parties.

New Law to Protect Children and Minors from Liquid Nicotine
Dana Platin, Legislation/Resolutions Coordinator

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed a law that will prohibit the sale of liquid nicotine (found in e-cigarettes) to minors and require childproof packaging of liquid nicotine products to protect against accidental poisoning.

Liquid nicotine, better known as electronic liquid or e-liquid, is a composite of nicotine and other chemicals. Concentrated liquid nicotine is highly toxic, even in small doses, and if ingested, may cause tremors, vomiting, seizures and potentially, death. Ingesting liquid nicotine is most likely to be lethal for infants and children. For the full story, click here.

National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest for 5th Graders
Susanne Smoller, Wellness Coordinator

According to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, “the New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse is coordinating New York State’s participation in the US Department of Justice’s National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest for 2015. The contest is open to all 5th graders in school districts across New York State. It is a unique way to educate youth about personal safety and the dangers of running away and to raise awareness of missing children’s cases in New York and across the country.”

For the March due date and other details, click here.

Addressing Racial Discipline Disparities
Caroline Shenefield-Angiello, Juvenile Protection Specialist

The Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative has released “You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Look At: Acknowledging Race in Addressing Racial Discipline Disparities.”  This briefing paper highlights recommendations for school administrators and educators for facilitating conversations about race to address racial discipline disparities in US schools.

This title is the fourth in a series of briefing papers on disparities in school discipline. The research follows the school discipline guidance package  that the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (ED) have released to help states, districts and schools enhance school climate and improve discipline policies and practices. Read more about the DOJ-ED effort at Supportive School Discipline Initiative.

The Family Reading Experience
Stephanie Avidon, PARP Specialist

National PTA and Kindle are working together to help families get more involved in their children’s reading and enhance their emerging interest in books. Together they created The Family Reading Experience, a fun-filled, literacy focused, family engagement program for families with children in grades K-5.

It’s easy to host one of these programs at your school. Two different kits are available (one for grades K-2 and another for grades 3-5).For more information about this program and to download the toolkit, click here. You will find all of the components needed with printable materials you can use to create an event at your school. Materials are also available in Spanish. You can also check out a video about the program here.

We hope you will consider hosting a Family Reading Experience at your school. This program helps encourage parents and children to read together. Not only does reading together help your child succeed in school but it forms bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.

Children’s Mental Health Needs
Joyce Cattani, Special Education Specialist

Soon it will be time for annual budget debates. One area of need that must be discussed is mental health/illness and how it affects kids. Recent reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services and from Mental Health America provide us with some sobering statistics.

According to the report, approximately 6.2 million children (8.5%) in the nation suffer from an emotional, behavioral or developmental issue. This translates into one in five children who have had a serious mental disorder, of which three in four emerge early in life. One of every three of these children with serious issues has inadequate health insurance, which contributes to the fact that half of them will develop a substance abuse disorder at some time in their lives.

Because early intervention is key to the success of mental health treatment, efforts have been made to assist teachers in learning how to identify behaviors that may require further intervention. We need to continue to advocate for reliable funding and support for our mentally ill children.

For more information, check out these links:

A Link Between Bullying and Suicide
Maria Eagan, Health Specialist

Playing any role in bullying—be it the bully, the victim or both—has a significant relation to suicidal ideation (thoughts) and behavior. This was a key finding from a review of 47 studies that was conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other academic institutions and published in the journal Pediatrics.

Youth who bully others and are bullied themselves are particularly likely to report suicidal thoughts and behavior, compared to those who were only perpetrators or only victims. The relationship between bully/victim status and suicidal thoughts often varied according to the way a particular study chose to define and measure bullying behavior. For example, asking only “Have you been bullied?” in contrast to asking a series of specific behavioral questions about bullying.

To deal with this problem, more research must be done to understand the factors that impact the bullying-suicide relationship and the full implications for the mental health of children and youth. To read more, click here.

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