February 17, 2016 
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Inside this issue
  In the Spotlight  

Tuesday, March 8 is Virtual Lobby Day.

This year, NYS PTA is advocating for early childhood education, full funding for education, funding and policy shifts to address heroin and prescription opiate addiction, and formation of a NYSED Office of Family Engagement.

In the coming weeks you will see the Issues Briefs and Talking Points for these issues, as well as a detailed response to the 2016 Executive Budget proposed by Governor Cuomo. We will provide you with resources to advocate on both the local and state levels.




  Mission Possible: Act Today for a Better Tomorrow!  

One of the best ways to get involved in advocacy is to attend the NYS PTA Legislation/Education Conference from February 27 to 28 in Albany, NY.

With its Mission Possible theme, the conference offers an action-packed program of speakers, workshops, networking, and fantastic student artists designed to help you act today for a better tomorrow!

Click here for conference program (website link). On-site registration still available. For more information about Leg/Ed, click here.



  Legislative Updates  

Special Election and Primaries: Governor Cuomo has called for a special election on April 19 for former Majority Leader Dean Skelos' vacant NYS Senate seat. This will also be the same day as New York's presidential primaries. Read more here.

Governor Cuomo's Built to Lead Proposals for 2016: In Governor Cuomo's Built to Lead, 2016 State of the State, there are a number of proposals that could be of interest to NYS PTA members. To read the Built to Lead document, click here

The following proposals by Governor Cuomo have direct ties to positions in the "Where We Stand" document that are found on the NYS PTA website here. You can use "Where We Stand" to speak to these proposals and how it relates to members.

Here is a snapshot of the governor's proposals and where you can find them in the Built to Lead document.

  • Alcohol issues - Proposal: Update the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to grow e-commerce (p. 71)
  • Child safety - Proposal: Ensure the safety of child products (p. 272); Strengthen penalties for child abuse (p.178)
  • Developmental disabilities - Proposal: Implement the Developmental Disabilities Transformation Panel recommendations (p. 263)
  • Education issues - pre-K-12 Education (p. 107-123): Includes issues related to state aid, elimination of GEA, charter schools, pre-K and Common Core Task Force recommendations
  • Food and hunger issues - Proposal: Reduce organic waste to lower methane emissions (p. 137-138): Proposal: New York State certified high quality foods (p.246) and poverty, hunger and food related proposals (p. 156-163, 167-174)
  • Juvenile and social justice issues - Proposals: Young adults transitioning from foster care (p.176); Expand alternative to incarceration to reduce incarceration (p. 182); Reduce criminal behavior through education (p. 183); Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 (p. 187)
  • Mental health - Proposal: Increase funding and expand services for children's mental health (p.261)
  • Substance use - Proposal: Combat Opioid Overdose (p. 265); Proposal: Prevent opioid addiction relapse (p. 267); Proposal: Combat dangerous synthetic drugs (p. 268)


  Special Education  

The US Department of Education has issued a report to Congress describing how the country is progressing in providing a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities. The report can be found here

There are provisions 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

At their December meeting, the Board of Regents approved for permanent adoption changes to the Commissioner's Regulations. These changes, which took effect on December 31, 2015, allow students with disabilities the option to appeal a score of up to three points below a 55 on up to two Regents exams in order to graduate with a local diploma. A copy of the amended regulations can be found here

Lead poisoning in water has been in the news lately. Research has shown that elevated lead levels in blood can lead to learning disabilities, problems with attention and fine motor coordination, and even violent behavior. Exposure to lead can also be found in air, food, dust and soil. Lead-based paint is the most widespread and damaging source of lead exposure in young children. More information for parents can be found here and here.




P-12 Budget Testimony: NYS Education Department (NYSED) Commissioner MaryEllen Elia posted the Regents State Aid Proposal "Invest in our Students' Success" presentation on the NYSED website. You can review the document here.




NYS Assembly Heroin Task Force Report: "The Heroin Epidemic, A Report on Heroin Use, Treatment, Prevention and Education Efforts in NYS" from the Assembly Minority Task Force on Heroin Addiction and Community Response has been released. To read the report, click here.

Governor Cuomo unveiled a new online tool that helps guide New Yorkers struggling with addiction help find treatment. The NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services' (OASAS) "Bed Availability Dashboard" collects bed availability from state-certified alcohol and substance abuse disorder treatment providers. It then makes this list available on the agency's website in real time. This new online service will help New Yorkers easily find treatment bed availability across the entire state. Providers will update the information about these available beds on a 24/7 basis. Read more about this service here.

The governor also recently announced more than $1.6 million in annual funding to create first of their kind adolescent substance use disorder clubhouses in seven regions across New York. The governor states, "These new clubhouses will give young New Yorkers a safe, welcoming environment to receive the help they need and keep them on the path to recovery." These community-based clubhouses will promote peer driven supports and services in a non-clinical setting for adolescents who are in recovery or at risk for substance use. Read the entire article here.

New York has expanded free Zika virus testing to include all pregnant woman who have traveled to impacted countries. Governor Cuomo has directed the NYS Department of Health (DOH) to test these pregnant women, regardless of whether they exhibit symptoms. Additionally, DOH has issued a health advisory to health care providers, local health departments and hospitals to further coordinate Zika response efforts in NYS. They also provided an information line (1-888-364-4723) for the public and healthcare providers to learn more about the virus and to find out how to access free testing. Learn more about the Zika virus here.

Teenagers, Dietary Fiber and Breast Cancer: According to a new article in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a high fiber diet during teen and early adult years is associated with a significantly lower incidence of breast cancer. The study followed 44,000 women over a 20 year period. This study suggests one more important reason to pay attention to diet. The abstract of the article is here.

Ask Your Doctor About Nutrition: Medical students at Tufts University are learning about nutrition, food economy and tasty cooking in order to better advise their patients. There has long been a void in medical education regarding nutrition. With the epidemic of obesity and the health hazards that result, doctors need more information to be able to direct their patients to healthy eating habits. The program is directed by Dr. Timothy Harlan of Tulane University in New Orleans. Program information is here.



  Juvenile Justice  

President Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles in Federal Prisons: According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), on January 25, President Obama banned the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. The president stated in the Washington Post, "solitary confinement - especially for juveniles and people with mental illness - has the 'potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences.'" Read more here.



  February/March Awareness Events  


National Cancer Prevention Month

National Boost Your Self Esteem Month

Heart Month

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

National Children's Dental Health Month


March 7-11: National School Breakfast Week

March 8: International Women's Day

March 6-12: Teen Tech Week

March 10: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

To access the Wellness Toolkit, click here.