BETHLEHEM - It's not every day when two state senators and one assembly member show up for a local school board meeting. But that's exactly what happened on Wednesday night as the frustration continues to grow regarding the state's Common Core implementation.
According to Albany Assembly woman Pat Fahy, what's happening with the state of New York State's education is a perfect storm of frustration.
"I was hearing with almost unanimity the number of concerns," Fahy says, "And when you start hearing from educators, parents and even students, then you have to start to pay attention."
State Legislators from the Capitol Region have raised concerns that the Common Core curriculum and standardized testing are inconsistent with Federal laws designed to guarantee a quality education for children with special needs.
They requested that the State Education Department dedicate one of their upcoming public forums on Common Core to the curriculum’s impact on children with special needs.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk said New York City should be directed to fund an independent study on the issues related to the release of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek.
In order to protect NYC’s drinking water supply in the Ashokan Reservoir, the City’s Department of Environmental Protection releases up to 600 million gallons of highly turbid, muddy water per day from the reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek. Those releases have created many problems for Ulster County residents and business owners near the creek, including polluted water and an increased frequency of flooding. Critics also contend the releases have damaged local wildlife and recreational activities.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk announced that Governor Cuomo has signed a measure she co-sponsored (S.5805/A.8039) to provide that flags lowered to half-staff at the State Capitol in honor of a fallen soldier be given at no cost to the loved ones of the deceased.
The program is named after Lt. Colonel Todd Clark, a native of Guilderland in Tkaczyk’s Senate District. As a 17-year US Army Veteran, Lt. Colonel Clark served with great distinction and bravery. While recuperating from serious wounds he received on a previous tour of duty, Lt. Colonel Clark traveled to the State Capitol to talk to legislators about Veterans’ issues.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk said she was very pleased that Governor Cuomo has signed into law a measure to cap assessment increases on farmland at two percent each year, and said the Governor has “once again demonstrated his support of and appreciation for the State’s farmers.”
The measure will “provide farmers in New York with a greater level of stability and predictability in budgeting and anticipating their expenses; And it will help small family farms to grow, invest in their farms and create new jobs,” Senator Tkaczyk said.
Previously, agricultural assessments could increase by as much as ten percent, which has led to a doubling of the base assessment for farm land in the last seven years. This has been disastrous for New York farmers.
State Education Commissioner John King was treated roughly by teachers and parents at a town hall meeting held last week in Poughkeepsie to discuss the Common Core learning standards. He promptly cancelled four other town halls that were scheduled around the state, including one at Shenendehowa High School, saying the one in Poughkeepsie was “co-opted by special interests.” Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, a former school board member and mother of a current high school student, sent King a letter asking him to reconsider and hold those meetings. He should.
In the wake of State Education Commissioner Dr. John King’s suspension of PTA-sponsored town hall meetings on the Common Core and standardized testing mandates, State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk (D, Duanesburg) urged him to reconsider.
The freshman lawmaker told King in a letter that the new mandates placed on schools, teachers and students “are among the most significant challenges ever faced by our public education system.”
Tkaczyk would like King to attend a community forum she will be holding in Ulster County.
ALBANY — A strong push by New York State lawmakers in the past several months has restored $90 million in proposed spending cuts for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities included in the state’s final 2013-2014 budget.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk has been named to the New York Farm Bureau’s 2013 Circle of Friends.
“Agriculture is the State’s largest industry, generating more than $30 billion for the New York economy,” Senator Tkaczyk said. “Right now, small farms in New York are struggling to survive, and it’s critical that we support the industry and help it to grow and create jobs.”
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk was given the highest score in the State Senate by Environmental Advocates of New York, in recognition of her strong record of sponsoring and supporting legislation to protect New York’s environment.
“I am very proud to have received a perfect score on environmental legislation,” Senator Tkaczyk said. “Protecting the State’s beautiful natural resources, as well as the health of our residents, is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, and I thank EPL/Environmental Advocates for their recognition of my work in the Senate.”
Legislators’ scores are heavily influenced by their support for the Super Bills, the most pressing environmental priorities for New York.
This year, the environmental Super Bills included:
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblymember Pat Fahy joined colleagues, families and advocates to announce legislation to help ensure that thousands of infants and toddlers with disabilities receive the early intervention services they need to live normal, fulfilling lives.
As a result of legislative changes and bureaucratic snafus, many early intervention specialists -- who provide speech, physical and educational therapies to more than 70,000 young children -- have not been paid since April 1. Many are either closing their doors or are declining to take new children into the program.
A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk to restore funding to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has been signed by Governor Cuomo.
Senator Tkaczyk, Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, was a vocal opponent of the cuts first proposed in the Executive Budget, saying:
“The budget cuts would have devastated the services that our most vulnerable residents and their families rely on. I am proud to have fought for full restoration throughout the budget process, and am thrilled these cuts have finally been restored,” she said.
FORT PLAIN — A big chunk of Tammy Erhardt’s 22 Abbott St. residence is long gone, but her tax bill is intact and right on time.
On June 28, Otsquago Creek flood waters tossed a neighbor’s house against her son’s bedroom, causing heavy damage. The Erhardts were gone at the time — more fortunate than the resident of the floating house, 87-year-old Ethel Healey, who died in the flood.
Erhardt feels lucky, but still was taken aback by the property tax bill that arrived in the mail last week.
“I basically have half a house right now,” she said, “but I have to pay the full tax.”
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara have joined together and expanded the Senator’s Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2013 (S.5915-A) to include assistance for homeowners and businesses in the five counties across Upstate New York hurt by flooding in June and July.
The revised measure has to-date been co-sponsored by 10 of Senator Tkaczyk’s Democratic Senate colleagues and has been introduced in the Assembly by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara as A.8124.
The legislation would create a local option allowing businesses and homeowners in Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara and Oneida counties to have their property taxes reassessed and lowered to reflect the flood-damaged status of their home or property.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of all deaths in the United States, the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 to 24, and the second leading cause of death among college students. More than twenty percent of those who die by suicide are active or retired members of the military.
A great many suicides are preventable. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, together with thousands of advocates, caregivers, consumers and professionals work tirelessly to raise awareness, reduce stigma, educate New Yorkers and influence public policy to make mental health services readily available and accessible.
Residents of the 46th Senate District can now reach Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, through an Amsterdam office.
The freshman senator has become much more accessible to the northern end of her district, which stretches from Montgomery County down to Ulster County. Tkaczyk's new office is on the first floor of 1170 Riverfront Center, where her phone number is 518-842-2407.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk (D-46th) visited Liberty Enterprise's day support building, the Montgomery County chapter of New York State ARC, Thursday afternoon to tour the building and meet staff members. Liberty is the largest facility in the county that serves people who have developmental disabilities.
Community mental health needs are at a historic high, though funding has been funneled into the General Fund for ten of the last 20 years. Having recognized a need to address the lack of funds, Tkaczyk, who is on the Mental Health Committee, jointly introduced legislation with chair of the Mental Health Committee Assemblyman Aileen Gunther to do just that.