Monday, October 31, 2016

LWVNJ EDUCATION COMMITTEE:2016 ISSUES




Education

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey has a statewide Education Committee working to understand and influence education policy in the state. Members interested in joining the Education Committee can contact the state office at contact@lwvnj.org.

LWVNJ EDUCATION POSITIONS

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey has positions concerning charter schools, private school choice, school district regionalization, the state role in achieving quality education, teacher certification and professional development, and tenure. Details can be found in the League of Women Voters of New Jersey's Study& Action.

Charter Schools – 2000,  Update 2015 (Study and Action)

The original LWVNJ position statement (2000), supports the intent of the 1995 legislation that established charter schools as a means to encourage innovation within local public schools. However, that support came with qualifications; furthermore, the educational landscape has changed substantially over the past 15 years.

The study materials included: 1) accountability, including school governance, student achievement, and communication of innovative practices and curricula to the district public schools; 2) the role of district residents in charter approval; 3) what organizations should be allowed to authorize charter schools; 4) full-time virtual charter schools; and 5) oversight of educational management organizations in the operation of charter schools.The LWVNJ Education Committee  formed the position from the consensus of 26 leagues, (816 members).

Opposition to School Vouchers ( Study and Action  )

League position: The League of Women Voters of New Jersey believes that the system of elementary and secondary education must be fiscally and educationally accountable to New Jersey citizens. Therefore, public funds should not be used through vouchers or direct payments, tax credits or other fiscal incentives or equivalent financial instruments to support students attending non-public schools.






Current Issues: 2016

The beginning stage of consensus studies involves the Education Committee evaluating issues on need for the study, interest of LWV members, relevance to LWV mission, and willingness of members to carry out the study. The LWVNJ Education Committee has been discussing these areas:


CIVICS EDUCATION


The New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards for Social Studies has as its Mission Statement that " Social Studies education provides learners with the knowledge, skills and perspectives needed to become active, informed citizens and contributing members of local, state, national and global communities"   It further states that "an education in social studies fosters, among other things, a population that is civic minded, globally aware and socially responsible.  It exemplifies fundamental values of American citizenship through active participation in local and global communities and makes informed decisions about local, state, national and global events based on inquiry and analysis."

The National Standards for Civics and Government ,which is published by the Center for Civic Education,  are referenced in these standards. Standard 6.3 Active Citizenship in the 21st century applies to grades Pre-K-12, at all levels (Pre-K-4, 5-8,9-12).Teachers use a variety of strategies to teach the information i.e. debates, mock trials, service learning projects.

Districts also have extracurricular clubs, such as Student Council, Future Civics Leaders, Junior Statesmen of America and  Model UN,   that promote Civics.

The League plays a role in promoting Civics Education by registering voters in the high school, distributing Mail-In-Ballot Applications during graduation rehearsal. The League can sponsor programs such as Making Democracy Work  (Greater Red Bank League) or Running and Winning Programs (Camden League).  The League can partner with the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to help the scouts receive their badges.



SPECIAL EDUCATION  

MODERNIZING VOTER REGISTRATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Report on LWVNJ Conference


MODERNIZING VOTER REGISTRATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY



October 8, 2016



                I attended the NJ League of Women Voters’ program at Rider University, along with several dozen other LWV members from around the state.  The morning was devoted to updating us on current statistics for voter registration, efforts in various states to either improve or suppress voter registration, and discuss some of the reasons why this is such a challenging topic even in 2016.



                Our first speaker, Jennifer Clark, counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice, discussed a wide variety of nationwide statistics to illustrate how complicated it is to tackle this issue in various states.  Some of the more eye-opening data included:

·         Of the 12 states with the highest percentage of Latino voters in 2008, nine

of them have increased voter restrictions through state legislative efforts.

·         30 states have made major efforts to modernize voter registration systems since 2008

·         1 in 4 adults in the USA are not registered to vote

·         1 in 4 adults do not understand that their voter registration is not automatically

updated when they move, even if they stay within the same state.

·         39 states offer online voter registration (NJ does not, forms can be filled in but must

Be downloaded and printed out for manual signatures, then mailed)

·         23 states offer voter registration at DMVs and some other government agencies

Via electronic transfer (doing both at the same time)

·         16 states have same day registration either at the polling places or through local

Municipal clerk’s offices, to correct inaccuracies as well as register new voters

·         Only 5 states (OR, CA, VT, CT and WV) offer automatic voter registration at all

government offices (DMV, Medicare, SS, etc) with an opt out option, and are

completely paperless



We then heard from a great panel of three women – Elizabeth Matto, director for Youth Political

Participation Program; Mary Ciccone, attorney for Disability Rights NJ; and Analilia Mejia, Exec. Director, NJ Working Families Alliance.  Ms. Matto gave us a very interesting breakdown of potential voters in the “Millenial” generation (those born after 1981) with eye-opening statistics:

·         77 million potential voters, most ethnically diverse generation

·         Well educated, but economically vulnerable (burdened by student loan debt, contract jobs

that often don’t offer benefits, unable to save up enough in their 20s to be completely  independent from parents, etc.

·         Completely computer literate, also impatient with cumbersome processes of voter registration (too impatient with too many steps in the system)

·         Move around often, sometimes within the same year

·         No loyalty to brands, political parties, etc. – apolitical independent voters

·         Have often received little or no civics education in middle or high schools, unaware of why we pay taxes for government services, etc.



The second speaker outlined the challenges of registering more disabled voters, such as

transportation, some having inability to sign documents, etc.  This population includes many senior citizens (including those in assisted living), those born with disabilities, the mentally ill, etc.  Often, if then if they can use newly developed computer screen readers, they cannot register online, or have electronic signatures validated when they go to vote on election day.  The third speaker talked about efforts to reach out to the working poor, lobbying NJ legislators with the recent package of bills designed to update our voter registration processes like online registration, automatic registration at government offices, etc. which were supported by a bipartisan effort but vetoed by Governor Christie.  She emphasized that league members must interact with our state legislators to build up their resolve to pass this legislation again with veto-proof support.



Overall, the program was very empowering, and we were strongly encouraged to maintain ongoing contact with the LWV-NJ’s lobbyists and contact our local legislators to support our Voting Reform Platform:



1.       Online Voter Registration

2.       Automatic Voter Registration

3.       In-Person Early Voting (not uniformly offered in all NJ counties)

4.       Same Day Voter Registration

5.       Rights Restoration for People with Criminal Convictions in their Past

6.       Portable Voter Registration (automatic updating offered at polling places)



Barbara Ostroth

VP, Voter Services

Teaneck LWV

Friday, October 7, 2016

VOTER'S GUIDE FOR CANDIDATE’S FORUM BOE TUES. 10/18TH















The League of Women Voters of

Teaneck

VOTERS GUIDE link HERE






Teaneck had a BOE Candidates’ Forum on Tuesday, October 18th, 7:30PM, in the 3rd Floor Student Center of Teaneck High School.  

This forum, which was run by an independent professionally-trained moderator,  included participation by all six candidates running for three Teaneck Board of Education positions in November.

The public was invited to come and ask questions of the candidates, and were  also provided with a copy of the LWV Voters Guide with candidates’ answers to three advance questions as well as their biographical information.  

The non-partisan Teaneck League of Women Voters has been active in hosting candidates’ forums, voter registration as well as participating in discussions and studies on local and state current events issues for over 65 years.  

Handicapped access is  available from the courtyard parking lot off Elizabeth Street.  
For additional questions regarding this forum, call Barbara Ostroth (Teaneck LWV,VP Voter Services) at 201-965-3105.