Newsletter of the Miami Dade County Council PTA Advocacy & Legislation Team

Standing Up and Speaking Out on Behalf of Children

 
Volume I, No. 2
In This Issue
Mark Your Calendar

 Advocacy/Legislation Events
  
January 11:
2016 Florida Legislative Session Opens

January 16:
Men's Summit, Miami Senior High School, 8:00 am - 3:30 pm.

January 24-26: 
Florida PTA Legislative Conference , Tallahassee 
Register now!

March 8-10: 
National PTA Legislative Conference, 
Arlington, VA  
Register now!

March 11: 
Florida Legislative Session Ends 
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Elections

January 26: 
Florida City biannual election

February 9: 
South Miami General and Special Elections  
 
February 16: 
*Florida City run-off election
*Last day to register to vote in Florida's 2016 Presidential Preference Primary Election 
Miami-Dade Elections Department website  

March 15: 
*Presidential Preference Primary Election 
*Surfside General Municipal Election
Eye on the Courts
There are a number of pending cases with the power to affect PreK-12 education in Florida.

Among the best known is Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida State Board of Education. Plaintiffs allege that Florida is not meeting its constitutional mandate to provide a high quality public education due to inadequate funding. Trial begins March 14, 2016.

Also in the news is McCall v. Scott challenging the constitutionality of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. After plaintiffs were denied standing last May, they appealed. That appeal is pending.
 
On Our Bookshelf

boy-reading-magic.jpg

The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?
Dale Russakoff, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 246 pages.

Originally serialized in The New Yorker, "The Prize" delves into the failed attempt by a mayor, a governor, and a major social media entrepreneur not merely to "repair education in Newark but to develop a model for saving it in all of urban America."

What went wrong? What does the failure of this highly-publicized partnership mean for the future of education reform? Check out "The Prize" for yourself--copies are available through the Miami Dade Public Library System

January 6, 2016
Dear Miami-Dade PTA Members, 

 We hope that all of you spent a wonderful holiday break with family and friends.

As we begin the New Year, we'd like to pass along some GREAT NEWS! Our collective voices have made a difference: Senate Bill 72, allowing school safety designees to carry concealed weapons or firearms in our PreK-12 public schools, has been withdrawn! Thanks to all of you who supported our petition drive to say "NO" to guns in schools and on college campuses. Keep up the good work, and join us as we continue to speak out against HB 4001/SB 68 allowing open carry on college campuses.

Thanks as well for supporting our call to the Governor to suspend use of 2015 FSA results in the determination of school grades and school personnel evaluations. Now that the State Board of Education has voted to set FSA cut scores and establish A-F school grade criteria that still deem too many students and too many schools to be "failing," we have more work to do.

In the weeks to come you will have many new opportunities to make your voices heard. Please keep an eye out for our "PTA Takes Action" alerts. A single email, a single phone call, a single post to Facebook, a single tweet--all sent from the comfort of your home--can work wonders.

Be sure to visit our newly-updated website, mdccpta.org, as well. Under the Committees heading, click on Legislative to find information about legislative processes and terms, how education is funded, and upcoming local, state, and national elections, including PTA do's and don'ts. Under the Advocacy Center heading, learn how to make an impact, how to contact federal and state legislators, and where PTA stands on the issues. You will also find all the latest about the 2016 Florida Legislative Session.

Whether you're a student, a parent or guardian, or a family or community member, our informed and experienced Advocacy and Legislation Team is here to assist you--from a parent's point of view--with any questions regarding educational policy or legislation, and to guide you in becoming a better advocate. Please feel free to get in touch.
  
The MDCC PTA Advocacy and Legislation Team
 
Dr. Nancy Lawther, 1st VP of Advocacy and Legislation: 
 
Mindy Gould, Advocacy Chair: 

Eileen Segal
, Legislation Chair: 
 
Register NOW for the 2016 Florida PTA
 Legislative Conference in Tallahassee

FL Leg Con photo
 
What a fantastic opportunity to learn about the legislative process and current hot-button issues, pick up tips on how to become a better advocate, and network with PTA members from across the state!

Plus, you will have an opportunity to put your new knowledge and enhanced skills into action as you attend committee meetings and speak with legislators with the power to make positive changes in the interest of children's education, safety, and well-being.

To learn more, and register for this marvelous event, click here.

THE LATEST NEWS FROM
WASHINGTON AND TALLAHASSEE
legislative

In Washington, the House and Senate passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first substantive rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act since No Child Left Behind. This 1059-page compromise bill considerably reduces the federal role in education, while increasing the power of individual states to determine standards, assessments, and accountability measures.

In Tallahassee, elected officials and policymakers have been focusing on the many education/children's issues. Here are two of the most important: 
  • Funding: Governor Scott's proposed budget calls for $7221 in per pupil spending, $95 more than the previous 2007-2008 high mark; the Governor has come under fire, however, because the bulk of new education dollars is generated through an increase in local property tax assessments rather than through new state allocations.
The MDCC PTA/PTSA Board has voted to support a 5% per year increase in per pupil funding until such time as Florida, which has consistently ranked among the bottom 10 US states, reaches the national average for per student funding.    
  • Testing and accountability: The Florida Board of Education voted to set scores for the FSA at its January 6 meeting in Tallahassee. Despite persistent questions regarding the overall validity and 2015 administration of the FSA, these cut scores will determine 2015 school grades, and impact teacher and administrator evaluations. Legislation to suspend use of the 2015 FSA results, a position MDCC PTA/PTSA has called on the Governor to support, has been filed. Legislation has also been filed to offer students more alternatives to taking the FSA.
See our call to action on FSA here.


INFORMATION CENTER
Download Our Printable Brochure
       En español
       An kreyol
HELP WANTED!
The MDCC Advocacy and Legislation Team is looking for...

Members passionate about issues affecting children to join our Advocacy Committee or Legislative Committee.

Translators! ¿Habla Usted español? Parlez-vous français? Você fala português? Türkçe biliyormusunuz? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? If you know a second--or third, or fourth--language, help us spread the word to all of our members! 

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Nancy at firstvp@mdccpta.org

Advocacy in Action:
Dr. Jayne Greenberg

M-DCPS's Dr. Jayne Greenberg Named as ISCA's New North American Chair 




Congratulations to Dr. Jayne Greenberg,
District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, who has been named as the new North American Chair of the International Sports and Culture Association.

The recipient of many national and international honors, Dr. Greenberg has been a tireless advocate for improving children's well-being through exercise and good nutrition. She has recently led the "Let's Move!" initiative in Miami-Dade County to get schools, child care centers, religious and indigenous communities and other groups involved in increasing children's opportunities to be physically active and well-nourished.

In this year when we in PTA are pushing Florida's legislators to embrace Miami-Dade County Public Schools' practice of recess for all elementary school students, we salute Dr. Greenberg for showing us the way!



Let's honor Dr. Greenberg's example by responding to Florida PTA's CALL TO ACTION ON RECESS

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What has your PTA/PTSA done to increase awareness among your members of the education and child-related issues of the day?

Would you like to have  your local unit's advocacy efforts featured in this column? Contact Nancy: 
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Make this a New Year's resolution you will keep!
 
Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs | 305-995-1102 | communications@mdccpta.org | www.mdccpta.org
  1450 NE Second Avenue
Room 103
Miami, FL 33132