Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield a Big Success

Source: One Voice Illinois

It was a beautiful fall day in Springfield on Tuesday as Illinois PTA members gathered for Advocacy Day. The Illinois PTA table in the capitol rotunda welcomed advocates and greeted passersby all day. By the end of the day, 79 legislators or their staff had had face-to-face contact with Illinois PTA. If you couldn’t make it to Springfield on November 15th, you can still contact your legislators and the governor through our online campaign.

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Illinois PTA advocates were speaking out on three focus issues throughout the day:

  • The lack of a state budget for the last 17 months
  • Senate Bill 550, which would require testing for lead in drinking water in all Illinois schools
  • House Bill 5726, which would ban the sale of energy drinks to minors

The budget issue was generally greeted with a lot of sympathy and head nodding, but also a bit of weariness as legislators and staff have likely been hearing about the issue on an almost daily basis for the last year and a half. Our other two issues drew much more interest, and if you add your voice to PTA’s one voice through our online Advocacy Day campaign, we may be able to get both bills passed during the veto session.

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Participating in the online campaign is easy and only takes a couple of minutes. Each letter is already written for you, though you can modify it if you wish to add information on how these issues are affecting your family, your schools, or your community. Then add your signature, type in your e-mail address so your legislators can get back to you, and include your zip code (and maybe your street address) so Voter Voice can look up your state representative and state senator for you. Finish off by hitting the “Continue” button, confirming your contact information, and sending off the letters.

Help protect Illinois children and families by speaking up today. The fall veto session only runs through next week, so the faster you act, the more time there is for legislators to act on these critical issues.

 

November 14: Square Pegs/Round Holes, the Right Fit for the Right Student (SPARK)

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Come to this free workshop that is open to anyone in the local community. Lisa Stankus, Director of Road to Learning, will be presenting on the topic of dyslexia – What is it? Who does it affect? How can you help? Approximately 80% of the population fits into round holes, but what about the other 20%? Do you have a struggling student but cannot quite put your finger on the problem? Could your student be one of the “square pegs” in the 20% group? Ms. Stankus shares the latest brain research regarding dyslexia, as well as classroom strategies that promote success for all learning styles. Come and learn how the dyslexic brain thinks, experience what it is like to be the square peg trying to fit into the round hole and participate in hands-on simulations depicting a dyslexic’s struggles in the classroom setting.

Lisa Stankus serves as the Director of Road to Learning, as well as the Special Education Coordinator for the Quentin Road Christian School. She graduated with her BA from Northern Illinois University and has been teaching over 25 years in both special and regular education. Please check out the Road to Learning website at http://www.roadtolearning.org for more information on Ms. Stankus and the Road to Learning center.

Where/When
Monday, November 14, 2016
Walter R. Sundling Junior High School
1100 N. Smith Street, Palatine, IL 60067
7:00pm – 8:30pm

SPARK meetings are designed to give parents information to help them in their current and future steps of the journey of parenting children with unique needs. At SPARK we realize the importance of providing:

  • Relevant programs and resources related to special education
  • Opportunities to network, receive support and help
  • Connections for parents with outside sources

The programs can also be found on the District 15 website: www.ccsd15.net.
If you would like to be contacted by or connected with SPARK, contact Sarah Winter (sarahwintertj@comcas.net)

SPARK is a Northwest Suburban Council of PTA committee serving families of children
with special needs in Community Consolidated School District 15 and beyond.
SPARK is proud to be in partnership with PTA!

September 28: Safe Schools Presentation

Tonight, School Safety Officer, Jeff Schlee, will discuss safety procedures in our grammar, middle, and high schools.

Jeff will explain parental roles and responsibilities in case of a school emergency.
RSVP to Kpoliquin@palatine.il.us

When/Where:
Wednesday, September 28th 7:00 pm
Palatine Police Headquarters
595 N. Hicks rd.
Palatine, Il. 60067
847-359-9000

September 26: SPARK Meeting (Nurturing Friendship Skills and Creating Opportunities for Your Child with Special Needs)

Join us as we explore ways to nurture the development of friendship skills, create social opportunities, and foster and support interactions for your child with special needs through childhood and beyond.

Presented by:
Gina Musielski, Family Resource Specialist
STAR NET Region II

As Family Resource Specialist for STAR NET Region II, Gina Musielski provides training and assistance to families of young children with special needs and the professionals who work with them. Gina has presented on a variety of topics related to special education, learning and development, and resources for families. A parent of a child with special needs herself, Gina weaves the parent perspective into everything she presents.

When/Where:
Monday, September 26, 2016 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Walter R. Sundling Junior High School
1100 N. Smith Street, Palatine, IL 60067

Brochure in Spanish

The programs can also be found on the District 15 website: http://www.ccsd15.net.
If you would like to be contacted by SPARK, contact Sarah Winter (sarahwintertj@comcast.net). SPARK is a Northwest Suburban Council of PTA committee serving families of children with special needs in Community Consolidated School District 15 and beyond.

Join Us for Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield on November 15th

Source: One Voice Illinois

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November 15, 2016 is Parents Day as part of American Education Week. It is also Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield, an opportunity for PTA members from across Illinois to speak up for children.

While you may not feel like you can be a PTA advocate, you likely already have been one. If you have spoken to your child’s teacher or your building’s principal about an issue, you have been an advocate. Illinois PTA has prepared to make Advocacy Day in Springfield as simple as possible, even if you have never spoken to a legislator before.

From 9:30am until 2:00pm, Illinois PTA will have an information table in the capitol rotunda. Come to the table to get handouts to give to your legislators, talking points to cover, and if you have pre-registered to attend Advocacy Day in Springfield, your free Illinois PTA business cards. We will have experienced PTA advocates whom you can follow as they speak with legislators and who can accompany you while you attend the meetings you have scheduled with your legislators.

Illinois PTA will also be presenting a webinar series to prepare you to advocate in Springfield. Each webinar will start at 7:30pm and last for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. The webinars will be recorded and made available for those who cannot attend the webinar. Illinois PTA uses GoToMeeting for its webinars, which can be attended using your browser or an app for Android, iOS, and Windows. The webinars will be:

  • September 29: Illinois PTA Legislative Priorities
    Learn about the key issues affecting children that the Illinois PTA is focused on this year, including juvenile justice, children’s health and safety, family engagement, school funding, and the state budget.
  • October 13: How to Meet with Legislators
    Learn how to contact your legislator to schedule a meeting in Springfield or in their district office, what to say and do when you meet them, and how to use Illinois PTA materials to support your arguments.
  • October 27: Advocate the PTA Way
    PTA advocacy is not just with legislators in Springfield and Washington. Learn how you and your PTA can advocate at your local level with your school district and school board, school principal, or community. We will also cover IRS requirements on PTA advocacy and PTA guidance on issues such as teacher strikes and bond referenda.
  • November 10: Hot Topics Briefing
    Learn the latest on the topics we will be advocating on in Springfield on November 15th. We will cover both the background of these issues and Illinois PTA talking points you can use with your legislator.

Sign up to attend one or more of the webinars and to join us for Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield on November 15th.

Another Year of Legislative Success for the Children of Illinois!

Source: One Voice Illinois

takesactionheader_final_1050px-crop-2From youth safety issues to juvenile justice, from children’s health to readiness for college and the work-force, from childhood hunger to an interim budget in a year of fiscal deadlock, the Illinois PTA has advocated successfully for all our children. The highlights are below. Illinois PTA will continue to advocate for every child, and urges you to join us this fall for Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield on November 15, 2016.

Children’s Health and Safety

We have had successes in responses to children’s allergies and asthma, concussions, and childhood hunger.

Epinephrine Auto-Injectors: With as much as 25% of first time anaphylactic reactions occurring in a school setting, we cannot stress the need enough for the availability of undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors. House Bill 4462, Epinephrine Auto-Injectors, now Public Act 99-0711, expands the protections currently in place to include additional circumstances in which a school district, public, or nonpublic school may have a supply of undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors available in a secure location so that they are accessible before, during, and after school, including while being transported on a school bus. The statue also provides for the training of state police in the administration of epinephrine auto-injectors. The expansions provided in PA 99-0711 will help prevent injury from a severe allergic reaction by Illinois children.

Asthma: On a related issue, students with asthma will now have additional safety measures in place. House Bill 6333, School Code–Asthma Action Plan, now Public Act 99-0843, provides for additional safety protocols with the requirements that:

  • the State Board of Education work with statewide professional organizations that have asthma management expertise to develop a model asthma episode emergency response protocol;
  • each school district, charter school, and nonpublic school adopt an asthma episode emergency response protocol before 1/1/2017 that includes the components of the State Board’s model;
  • all school personnel who work with pupils to complete a program every two years concerning asthma management, prevention, and emergency response; and that,
  • each school district, public, charter, or nonpublic school request an asthma action plan from the parents or guardians of a pupil with asthma each year.

Concussions: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 3.9 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the US annually. They are one of the most commonly reported injuries in children and adolescents who participate in sports and recreational activities. House Bill 4365, IHSA Concussion Reporting, now Public Act 99-0831, amends the Interscholastic Athletic Organization Act to provide for the enhanced reporting of student-athletes who have sustained a concussion. Beginning with the current school year, all member schools that have certified athletic trainers are required to complete a monthly report on student athletes at that school who sustained a concussion during a school-sponsored activity that is either overseen by the athletic trainer or when the athletic director is made aware of a concussion sustained by a student during a school-sponsored (with student names removed). Beginning in 2017-2018, the data is to be compiled from the prior school year into annual report to the Illinois General Assembly. Is the legislature considering further protections for our children once they receive these reports? We will continue to monitor this topic for future legislation.

Childhood Hunger: Children don’t do well in school if they’re hungry. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the lack of adequate healthy food can impair a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school, and is linked to higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems from preschool through adolescence. Approximately 1 in 5 Illinois children are affected by hunger. Senate Bill 2393, Childhood Hunger–Breakfast, now Public Act 99-0850, is intended to help with this ongoing issue. PA 99-0850, amends the Childhood Hunger Relief Act to provide for “breakfast after the bell” program beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, according to a model that best suits its students. This Act also provides that the Illinois State Board of Education is to:

  • collaborate with school districts and nonprofit organizations knowledgeable about equity, the opportunity gap, hunger and food security issues, and best practices for improving student access to school breakfast;
  • distribute guidelines for the program’s implementation; and,
  • post a list of opportunities for philanthropic support of school breakfast programs on its website.

The statute also allows schools and school districts to opt out under certain circumstances.

Education

Two new statutes have been enacted to address student achievement in Illinois.

College and Workforce Readiness: The lack of readiness for college and/or the workforce is a concern for parents, students, and employers across Illinois. Approximately one-half of Illinois high school graduates entering as full-time freshmen in Illinois public community colleges require remedial education. House Bill 5729, creates the Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness Act (Public Act 99-0674). The statute is a plan to address these student achievement concerns by creating:

  • a postsecondary career expectations model to be adopted for public school students in grades 8 through 12, defining activities where school districts, parents, and community-based organizations should support students, and the related knowledge students should have;
  • a pilot program for competency-based high school graduation requirements;
  • transitional mathematics courses from high school to college level;
  • a statewide panel that will include ISBE to recommend competencies for reading, and communication and strategies for achieving this in high school coursework; and,
  • College and Career Pathway Endorsements and State Distinction programs to provide student incentives and encourage their exploration and development.

After-School Program Grants: Senate Bill 2407, Department of Human Services–Teen REACH Grant Program, now Public Act 99-0700, amends the Department of Human Services Act to provide that, subject to appropriation, DHS will establish a establish a competitive state grant program—Teen Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Caring, and Hope (Teen REACH)—to support local communities in providing after-school opportunities for youth 6 to 17 years old that will improve their likelihood for future success, provide positive choices, reduce at-risk behaviors, and develop career goals. These grants are to be awarded to community-based agencies, in which successful grantees are to plan and implement activities to address outcomes in 6 core areas: improvement of educational performance; life skills education; parent education; recreation, sports, cultural, and artistic activities; the development of positive adult mentors; and service learning opportunities. 

Juvenile Justice

We have been successful in advocating for justice-involved youth in relation to the reporting of serious incidents impacting their health and well-being, legal representation, and expungement of records.

Critical Incidents While in the Juvenile Justice System: With the passage of House Bill 114, Juvenile Court–Critical Incident Report, now Public Act 99-0664, provides additional protections to a minor who is committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice. These protections include the Department notifying the court in writing of a critical incident which involves a serious risk to the life health or well-being of the youth within 10 days of the incident. The report is to include the actions the Department took in response to the incident.

Legal Representation for Youth: Research has shown that children do not understand the “Miranda warning,” do not understand the implications of making a statement to the police, and are more likely than adults to make a false confession. Senate Bill 2370, Juvenile Court–Counsel Representation, now Public Act 99-0882, requires that:

  • children under 15 be represented by legal counsel during custodial interrogations for homicide and sex offenses,
  • all interrogations of youths under age 18 for any felony and misdemeanor sex offenses be videotaped, and
  • police read children the new Miranda-type warning detailed in the statute.

While Illinois PTA does not believe this bill went far enough in protecting the rights of children in police custody, it is a move in the right direction.

Expungement of Juvenile Records: House Bill 5017, Juvenile Court–Expungement, now Public Act 99-0835, amends the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 to provide that whenever a person has been arrested, charged, or adjudicated delinquent for an incident that occurred before she or he turned 18 that would be an offense if committed by an adult, that person may petition the court for the expungement of related law enforcement and juvenile court proceedings. Once the related juvenile court proceedings have ended, the court is to order the expungement of all related records in the possession of the Department of State Police, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and law enforcement agencies for those circumstance specified under the act.

State Budget

Thank you to those of you who helped seek the passage of an adequate and sustainable budget in Illinois in a year of grid-lock and finger-pointing. Over 2,000 messages were sent by Illinois PTA supporters to legislators, the governor, and local newspapers regarding the need to support education, after school programs, and services for families and children with an adequate and sustainable budget. This created an atmosphere where there was at least some movement in a difficult year: the passage of a stop-gap budget with Senate Bill 2047 which provided funding through December, including for school funding, the Illinois State Board of Education, and state colleges. Is this enough? Absolutely not. We need an adequate and sustainable fully-funded budget to ensure that our children and Illinois families thrive and that schools, colleges and universities, and public service providers can plan for the future.

How can you help? Join the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network to stay up to date on Illinois issues and plan to join us for Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield on Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

Questions concerning advocacy issues? Please contact Illinois PTA Legislative Advocacy Director Lisa Garbaty at lgarbaty@illinoispta.org.

2016 Fall Training Opportunities

All courses will be held at South Middle School, 400 S Highland Ave, Arlington Heights Courses run from 7 to 9 PM.

Date Title Description
Sept 12 PTA Road to Success This course explains the who, what and why of PTA. This course is for everyone! The bylaws require this for the entire board PTA Road to Success (chairmen and officers).
Sept 12 Reflections Share the arts with your students while helping build confidence and self-esteem through recognition and celebration of their efforts. Learn more about the ins-and-outs of hosting and supporting the Reflections program, including rules, due dates, packaging, promotion, judging, best practices, success stories, program tips, and Q&A time.
Sept 14 Presidents’ Course Now that you have stepped up to be President, learn what it takes to do the job well! This course will give you the information needed to manage your PTA and have a fun exciting time doing it.
Sept 20 Money Matter 101 This course will take you through everything you will be responsible for as a PTA treasurer including how to prepare a budget, conducting an audit, fundraising, managing money and bank accounts, electronic banking, treasurer’s financial reports, accountability to members and the government, and how to protect your 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. It is suggested that all PTA treasurers and presidents take this course, but it would be beneficial to any PTA officer.
Sept 22 Money Matter 201 This course will take you more in depth into some of the legal issues you may encounter as a 501 (c) (3) association. It is suggested that all PTA treasurers take this course, but it contains many legal issues, which other PTA officers should be aware of.
Sept 22 Council Course This course explains what a council is, how it connects multiple PTAs together and enhances our voice for children, what councils can do for PTAs and its role within the PTA structure. This course should be attended by Presidents and Council Board members or anyone who wants to learn more about PTA.

Watch your email for information on additional courses to be offered.
Please register here or email msheppard@illinoispta.org. Walk in are welcome but materials only guaranteed for those that preregister.