Thursday, August 11, 2016

USDA Releases Final Rules on Wellness Policies, Smart Snacks & More

Action for Healthy Kids has provided a summary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release on final rules on wellness policies, smart snacks and more. WSPTA will share more information from Action for Healthy Kids once their Wellness Policy Tool is updated to incorporate the new USDA rules. 

These new rules help to make healthy choices the easy choice for schools and students by:
  • aligning snack foods sold in schools with the nutrition standards for school breakfast and lunch;
  • ensuring robust implementation of updated nutrition standards for school meals, snacks, and beverages;
  • providing consistent messaging and marketing about healthy food and beverage choices in schools;
  • fostering a collaborative approach to local school wellness policies to improve access to healthy food and physical activity;
  • expanding access to school meals;
  • maintaining school meal program integrity through accountability and standards; and
  • strengthening efforts of parents, teachers, coaches, and school partners to help students reach their potential in a healthy school environment.
Access the July 21, 2016 USDA press release here, with links to the new rules.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Quick Survey from National PTA on Education Issues

National PTA President Laura Bay requests your participation in a Department of Education online survey (it’s only 5 questions!) on the most pressing educational issues (as you see them) and how the US Department of Education’s Comprehensive Centers can provide assistance to address those issues.  

The Comprehensive Centers program is authorized by Title II of the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002 (ETAA), Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) of 2002. The Department of Education funds these Centers to provide technical assistance to State education agencies (SEAs) that builds SEA capacity to: support local educational agencies (LEAs or districts) and schools, especially low-performing districts and schools; improve educational outcomes for all students; close achievement gaps; and improve the quality of instruction. 

Please complete the online survey at your earliest convenience. The survey closes on Thursday, August 18.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Low Turnout, Crowded Races: Primary Election 2016

With a dismal voter turnout, Tuesday's primary results provide only a brief glimpse into what may happen in November’s general election. The vote counts are still early, and majorities remain the same until after the next election. With 20% of votes counted, here’s a quick summary of the state legislature and statewide races.

Senate Republicans keep edge, House Democrats see slight increase

Going into the primary, Republicans controlled the Senate with a 25-23 party majority, and a 26-23 majority when Democrat Tim Sheldon joined the majority caucus. Based on primary results, it would appear that most Senators are holding firm, while two have a race on their hands in November that could mean a party change.

Seven of the 25 Senators who had terms expiring January 2017 are not returning to the Legislature, having decided to retire or run for a different office. In all of these races, current House members are running for the Senate seat. If the results today were the end, these seats would stay with their party of record.

In addition, six senators whose terms expire in 2019 filed to run for a different office last May; of those, it appears that only three will be moving on to the general election. If they are successful in November, county commissioners in those legislative districts would be required to select a replacement of the same party next December or January. The others will return to the Senate for the 2017 legislative session.

Primary result: 24 Republicans, 25 Democrats (but Sheldon expected to continue to caucus with Rs)

In the House, Democrats have a 50-48 majority, which means Republicans only needed to flip one seat to force a “tie government” come January. In addition to the seven House members running for Senate, seven are running for a different office or retired. House members must run every two years, which means that 14 open House seats were up for grabs in this election. In addition, both parties fielded some aggressive candidates, taking on incumbents in both Republican- and Democratic-held districts. Of the 98 seats up this year, three could change party hands, while several others remain in play November 8.

Primary result: 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans

Reykdal, Jones to face off in November
The top two “vote getters” regardless of party move onto the general election. Surprisingly, five of the nine separately elected statewide positions were open this year. On the education front, House Representative Chris Reykdal and educator Erin Jones will advance in the race to replace retiring Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. Other top two candidates advancing to the November election are (with 20% of vote counted, as of 9:37p.m. on August 2nd):

·         Commissioner for Public Lands: Steve McLaughlin R; Hilary Franz D
·         Treasurer: Duane Davidson R; Michael Waite R
·         Auditor: Mark Miloscia R; Pat McCarthy D
·         Lieutenant Governor: Marty McClendon R; Cyrus Habib D (NOTE: A crowded field of Democrats led a Republican, who has likely never been on the Senate floor, to take the lead and advance to the General)