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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 79, No. 3, March 2003

Making Our Voices Heard — Making Our Votes Count

733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005
202/347-3020,  fax: 202/347-2522
Website:, E-mail:

President’s Message
Don’t Miss These Events
Member News
Congressional Representation
News from the Units
March Unit Meeting Schedule
Voter Services: DC League to Host Reception for New Citizens on April 8
Rent Stabilization Forum March 26, 2003
League Members Called to Action: Housing Production Trust Fund Campaign
Healthcare Committee
National Program
Commuter Tax Legislation: Fenty and Evans Call Press Conference
IR Committee to Examine Dept. of Homeland Security
Norton and Davis Introduce Budget Autonomy Bill
Will DC Have the First Presidential Primary?
Education Committee Testifies
Highlights of Feb. 5 Meeting
Women in the United Nations
Calendar: March 2003
Report of the Health and Education Forum


The Board of the National League of Women Voters met in February to set the legislative priorities for the new 108' Congress. They also discussed League action on the international situation relating to Iraq. The Board adopted three tiers of legislative priorities for 2003:

  • Top Priority and Core Issue - Election Reform, Campaign Finance Reform;

  • Action As Needed - Reproductive Choice, Clean Air, Oil Drilling in the Arctic, Title IX;

  • Group of issues where a building effort is expected - CEDAW, D.C. Voting. Rights and Financial Issues, Health Care, and Global and Global Warming.

When we recently hosted the D.C. Team Democracy meeting, Sean Tenner of DC Democracy Fund proposed moving the 2004 DC Presidential primary earlier in the year as a way to draw attention to D.C.'s third class status. Tim Cooper of Democracy First suggested making DC's primary the first in the nation. The attendees were receptive of this action and agreed to support them. We have testified at the City Council in support of this concept based on our support for full voting representation. (See below for a report on the Public Hearing and text of the testimony.)

An official call to National Council 2003 of LWVUS has been received. It will be held June 7-9, 2003 at the Marriott Metro Center Hotel, Washington, DC. Please consider being a Bed & Breakfast Hostess for out of state attendees.

Finally, don't forget to mark your calendar for our 83rd Annual Meeting to be held Thursday evening, April 24th. — E. Patricia Hallman, President

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Homeland Security Examined
Tues., Mar. 25th 6:30 pm (See below)

Rent Stabilization Forum
Wed.. Mar. 26th 6:45 pm (See below)

Both Held at Sumner School, 1201 17th St., NW
Street parking available. Farragut North Metro

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WELCOME NEW MEMBERS: We welcome new members: Edith Valrie Amerchih, Sharon Baskerville, David Catania, Vanessa Dixon, Brenda L. Emanuel and Finiana S. Joseph.

CONTRIBUTIONS: We gratefully. thank and acknowledge contributions from our members: Nelson Rimensnyder & Lisa M. Nickerson, Kathryn Ray, Anne Meredith Smoke.

CONDOLENCES: We are sad to report Mary Drob, formerly an active member of the International Relations Committee of our DC League, died in Ann Arbor Michigan on February 3. She was 87. While in Washington, she was also active in the Women's National Democratic Club and did volunteer work for libraries. Mary moved from Washington to Ann Arbor in 2000 to be near her family. We also send our condolences to the family and friends of Ingleside resident Helen Wolcott who recently passed away.

Sincere condolences are sent to member Paula McKann on the recent death of her sister and to member Constance P. Tate on the recent death of her brother.

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Along with others, DC Vote is supporting the DC City Council legislation to move the Presidential primary to January 10, 2004, the first in the nation. DC Vote also continues to work with Council members to add temporarily "Taxation without Representation" to our flag. Both actions are to increase awareness throughout the United States in our disenfranchisement.

February 25 D.C. Council members Jack Evans and Adrian Fenty announced that along with the 11 other Council members they will be introducing the "Commuter Tax Act of 2003." One of the 10 core messages which are listed in support of the legislation is that we have this unique prohibition only "Because D.C. has no representation" in Congress.

March 4 Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton will hold a Voting Rights Town Meeting. It will discuss the best strategy for the next two years. Call 225-8050 for time and place.

April 15 DC Vote will sponsor an event at Freedom Plaza to emphasize on Federal Income Tax Day that D.C. citizens pay the second highest in the nation per capital federal personal income tax but do not have a vote in Congress. Circle the date. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550), DC Vote Liaison

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Unfortunately almost all February Unit Meetings were canceled or postponed due to the snow. We are hoping for Spring-like weather in March to discuss information gathered from the Education portion of the Jan. 25t Health and Education Forum entitled "Leave No Child Behind." Some Units may also discuss "DC's Healthcare Safety Net" which was scheduled for February. We encourage members to look at the meeting schedule below and attend the Unit Meeting most convenient for them.

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Tuesday, March 18 at 9:45 am
Southwest Unit at the home of Anna Marsh, 1253 Delaware Ave., SW 554-7719

Tuesday, March 18 at 12:45 pm
Northwest Day Unit at IONA Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St., NW
Co-chairs June Bashkin 337-0949 & Barbara Kemp 362-4529

Tuesday; March 18 at 6:30 pm
In-Town Evening Unit at the Irish Channel Restaurant/Pub, 500 H St., NW in Chinatown. (Gallery Pl/Chinatown Metro stop).
We will reserve tables for the meeting. Members can choose to eat or not. Call Sheila Willet by 3 pm on the 18th at 347-3020 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, March 19 at 9:45 arn
Upper 16th Street Unit at the home of Kathy Schmidt 237-5550, 3601 Connecticut Ave., NW, #418

Thursday, March 20 at 9:45 arn
Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit in the Lounge at 3050 Military Rd., NW
Co-chairs: Ruth Allen 362-8953, Leslie Dunbar 364-6457, Joan Wilson 237-6264

Thursday, March 20 at 7:30 pm
The Evening Unit at the home of Geri Albers 362-2605, 4000 Massachusetts Ave., NW # 510

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All League Members Are Urged To Attend

On April 8, the DC League will be hosting a reception for new citizens following the monthly naturalization ceremony. We hope as many League members as possible will attend the ceremony in Courtroom 20 on the 6th floor of the U.S. District Courthouse at 3rd and Constitution Ave. NW.

If you have never attended a naturalization ceremony, you're in for a very impressive experience. Plan to arrive at Courtroom 20 by 9:45 a.m. For more information call Judy Smith. — Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Judy Smith (882-3021) Voter Services Co-chairs

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The DC League Committee on Affordable Housing will host a forum on Rent Stabilization on Wednesday evening, March 26th 6:45 pm 9:00 pm at Sumner School, 1201 17th Street, NW. One of the questions to be addressed is: "Can changes in the city's rent stabilization program help preserve affordable housing?"

A panel of experts will discuss all sides of rent stabilization. The panelist include: Raenelle Zapata, Rent Administrator, DC Housing Regulation Administration; long time rent control advocate Ken Rothchild, and a member of the Apartment and Office Building Assoc. of Metropolitan Washington. This forum is free and open to the public. Street parking is available after 6:30 pm. The nearest Metro stop is Farragut North. Contact the League office at 3473020 for more information. Sharron Hines, Affordable Housing Committee Chair

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The fact that the city is in a financial bind puts funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) at risk! The League is involved in a campaign to ensure HPTF funding along with Manna, the Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities, the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development as well as other organizations and individuals. This campaign includes participating in small delegations to talk to individual Councilmembers, a Lobby Day, and a post card campaign. League members armed with the Talking Points gathered on Feb. 25 at the District Building with about 100 others to lobby for the HPTF. The next step is to send a post card to City Councilmembers. Contact Elinor Hart 387-2966 for more information.


Send a post card to your Ward Councilmember, Council Chairman Linda Cropp, or one of the other four At-Large Councilmembers. (Address: The Council of the District of Columbia, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004.) Use the DC Voter Insert entitled "Council of the District of Columbia" to choose the name to write on the addressee side of the post card. Text of post card:

Dear D.C. Council Member:
Please vote for full funding of the Housing Production Trust Fund; It works!

  • I support full funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund because it ....
  • Targets D.C.'s limited resources on residents with the most desperate housing needs.
  • Creates new housing opportunities for renters and Section 8 holders.
  • Devotes resources to fixing up buildings for neighborhood residents.
  • Dedicates revenue to ensuring housing development for D.C.'s low-income residents.
  • Avoids displacement of current residents.
Vote to END our City's affordable housing crisis.

Name _______
Address ________
Washington, DC ______ Ward _____

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The Healthcare Committee organized a forum entitled D.C. Healthcare Safety Net, held from 10-12 a.m. at The Paul Vance Learning Annex, the Logan School on Saturday, January 25. Vanessa Dixon served as moderator of a panel of three: D.C. Councilmember David A. Catania, Executive Director of D.C. Primary Care Association Sharon Baskerville, and Deputy Director of the Health Care Safety Net Administration Brenda Emmanuel. Information about the status of healthcare in D.C. was presented and discussed. Those who attended learned that some 200,000 D.C. residents are uninsured, thus medically vulnerable; that emergency room problems are nationwide; and that the District is not using federal Medicaid support to its full extent, because it lacks an integrated system for recording and processing information about Medicaid use.

The subject will be discussed at March unit meetings, along with that of the afternoon part of the Forum, the "No Child Left Behind Legislation." For more complete information about both forums, see the insert in this Voter (below).

The next Health Care Committee meeting will be held Tuesday, March 25 at 1 pm in the DC League office. — Natalie Howard (882-8762), Chair

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The LWVUS Board met in DC at the end of January and adopted legislative priorities for the new Congress. In the lead were the League's core issues, Election Reform and Campaign Finance Reform, followed by certain LWV positions now under threat, i.e., reproductive rights, clean air, oil drilling in the Arctic, and Title IX. DC Voting Rights is in the third category of precedence, together with CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women), Health Care, and Global Warming. We learned from the Task Force planning the restudy of our position on Election of the President (adopted at Convention 2002) that it has been renamed Presidential Selection, thereby allowing us to look at the whole primary/nomination process as well as review the League's present position, which would abolish the Electoral College. Look for an article on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in the Jan-Feb issue of the National Voter, and information on the Presidential Selection update in the May-June issue. The Board also addressed the question of Iraq, reaffirming President Kay Maxwell's September statement (see your November DC Voter) and encouraging local Leagues to educate their citizens about the importance of working through the UN. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), 3rd VP for National Program

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Fenty and Evans Call Press Conference

On Tuesday, Feb. 25th Councilmembers Fenty (D-Ward 4) and Evans (D-Ward 2) introduced the "Commuter Tax Act of 2003" at a press conference held at the John A. Wilson Building. The "Commuter Tax Act of 2003" would amend Chapter 18 of Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code to impose a tax on salaries and wages earned in the District of Columbia by nonresident individuals. The tax would be distributed in the following format: If the taxable income is not over $10,000, the tax is .5% of the taxable income; over $10,000 but not over $40,000, the tax is 1% of the taxable income; and over $40,000, then the tax is 2% of the taxable income.

Universal principle of taxation is that the primary right to tax income belongs to the jurisdiction that the income is earned. Two-thirds of all income earned in the District of Columbia is earned by non-residents and 57 percent of all real property located in the District (by land area) is made nontaxable by reason of federal ownership. Since the District can tax only one-third of the income earned here, the citizens of the District of Columbia are taxed at higher rates than other jurisdictions. The burden on our citizens' income tax rates in the District range from 6 percent to 9.3 percent while the rates in Virginia are from 2 percent to 5.7 percent. Maryland rates are from 3.2 percent to 7.76 percent. These higher District tax rates are borne by District residents and as a result, many individual taxpayers have left the District, further shrinking its tax base. This bill would not cost the commuter anything because they would receive full credit on their own state's tax returns. Commuters are provided the protection of the District's Police Department, Safety from the Fire Department, and cleanliness from the Department of Public Works. "What is not fair is to get a service and not pay your fair share for it," stated Fenty and Evans. — E. Pat Hallman

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The next board meeting of the LWV National Capital Chapter will be held Friday, March 7 at 10 am at 1730 M Street, NW.
LWVNCA Annual Convention will be Sat., May 10, 2003. Naumann Award Committee awaits nominations.
Two LWVNCA monthly Board meeting dates have been rescheduled from April 4 to April 11 and June 6 to June 13. — Andrea Morris Gruhl, NCA News & Notes

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Tuesday, March 25 at 6:30 pm The International Relations Committee will welcome a speaker from Lockheed Martin, Mr. Lee Hein, Program Director, Justice-IPT, at its March 25th meeting. Mr. Hein will discuss his division's work for the new Dept. of Homeland Security, including border control, biometrics (fingerprinting and other physical identifying characteristics), and data input on foreigners entering and leaving the country. Lockheed's Justice-IPT provides communications and information technology connectivity for the Dept. of Justice, including US marshals, the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons.

Please join us at Sumner School (1201 17th St., NW, Farragut North Metro) from 6:30-8 pm for this fascinating topic. A question and answer session will follow. For further information, please contact Susan Rao at 636-1688.

Great Decisions: Nine articulate and well-informed members of the In Town Great Decisions group met on February 12 to discuss Multilateralism vs. Unilateralism. The group will meet again on Wednesday, March 12, to discuss The Uneasy U.S.-

Saudi Alliance, with Helen Metz leading the discussion, and again on Wednesday, March 26, to discuss The U.S. and Nigeria, with Jill Cochran as discussion leader. The group meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from noon to 2 at the LWVUS office, 1730 M St. NW, 10th floor. New participants and guests are welcome. Call Sheila Keeny, Great Decisions Coordinator, for information at 966-1692.

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In a joint press conference on February 10, 2003, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) announced that they are introducing a bill to bring "functional budget autonomy" to the District. The bill would allow the city's budget to become law on time at the start of the fiscal year, regardless of the status of other appropriations. Norton said: "The most significant feature of the bill is the elimination of the requirement that the DC budget be enacted by Congress. Instead, the budget could come to Congress for a layover period of thirty calendar (not legislative) days so long as the District submits its budget by September 1. Thus, our bill would guarantee that the DC budget would always go into effect at the start of the fiscal year on October 1." 

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Report on the Public Hearing of the Committee on Government Operations of the DC Council on February 19, 2003

The issue discussed at this Council Public Hearing is a bill that would reschedule the DC presidential primary, advancing the date from mid-May to mid-January, making the DC primary the first in the nation. The bill was presented by Councilmember Jack Evans. The two persons who conceived the idea, Tim Cooper of Democracy Now and Sean Tenner of DC Fund for Democracy, testified first. Several issues relating to the proposal were discussed. Over 30 people testified in a series of 10 panels throughout the day.

The strongest impetus for this bill is to focus national attention on the lack of voting rights in the District. The example given was of Iowa, which was able to put the issue of ethanol on a national basis by being one of the. first to have a presidential choice, in this case a caucus. Ray Browne, (Shadow U.S. Representative) and Tony Norman, (Ward 1) Democratic Party added that, besides our voting rights, we would also have the opportunity of raising issues relating to urban settings early on in the campaign. Several panelists and Councilmember Evans agreed that the candidates would come for the primary if for no other reason than to prevent someone else from winning.

The process for accomplishing the change is, first, for the Council to pass the bill, which then would go to the Mayor for approval. From the Mayor's office, it would have to go to Congress for approval. The panelist and members who discussed this issue felt that it is a "win-win" situation. If Congress approves, we get an early date. If Congress does not approve, they all see a national outcry against a Congress which will not allow the will of the citizens to prevail in such a basic issue. This outcome too would focus national attention on our lack of full voting rights. Jimmy Bell, an attorney, emphasized that the issue is "about the money".

A potential difficulty is the politics of the issue, which takes several forms. There are two states which pride themselves in being the first in the nation: New Hampshire and Iowa. It seems there has been some contact with New Hampshire, and they have no objection. The Republican Party, however, has as a national bylaw a statement that no primary shall take place before February 3. The Chairman of the Republican Party testified and, when pressed said, "if the date is changed to before February 3, there will be no Republican primary." (She clearly supported an earlier date, just not one before February 3.) However, Councilmember Evans made the point that it is the prerogative of the Council to set the date of the primary.

There is a similar rule in the Democratic bylaws concerning the election of delegates to the national convention. The proposed solution was to elect the delegates after the primary, presumably in the time frame of the bylaws. Nevertheless, the local Democratic Party did not support this bill. Without the support of the parties, it is possible that the DC delegates would not be seated at their conventions.

This provided a dramatic moment. Republican Party Chairman Betsy Warren Werronen, was giving her testimony when Councilmember Carol Schwartz (Republican) entered. She was recognized, and after giving support to Ms. Werronen in general, Ms. Schwartz continued at length that she "enjoys going to the convention as a delegate, but she would gladly sacrifice that position as a small price to pay for the opportunity to bring the issue of voting rights to a broader national understanding." She said in strong terms, as did others, to both parties testifying, "Where have you been?" and indicated that the parties should have been working all this time for voting rights for the District.

LWVDC President E. Patricia Hallman testified on one of the panels. In response to Councilmember Orange's question, "Does the LWV have a position on moving the primary election to be first in the country?" Ms. Hallman stated not at this time and we are consulting with our members, as well as the state Leagues & National LWV to secure a strong commitment from the League. Councilmember Evans referred to a historic example of League activism - before DC had the right to vote even for President, the League sponsored a primary election as an exercise in democracy. He asked if the League would be willing to perform such a service again, if the worst-case scenario prevailed. Ms. Hallman said she would consult and follow up on the matter. The other panelists, representing various voting rights organizations, supported the bill, each emphasizing a different aspect. The two shadow senators were there. The president and founder of Latino Voters Association Hector Rodriguez testified in favor, as did Heidi Kotzlan, a Republican voting rights activist. — Cecile Jones, LWVDC Member

Testimony given by E. Patricia Hallman before the Committee on Government Operations' Public Hearing Feb. 19, 2003 on the pending legislation: "Presidential Primary Election Act of 2003, Bill 15-81. To amend Title 1 of the D. C. Official Code to change the dates for holding elections in order to allow the District of Columbia to hold the first Presidential primary election every four years."

Good Morning, I am E. Patricia Hallman, President of the D. C. League of Women Voters. The League supports the District of Columbia holding the first Presidential primary of 2004. We feel that this historical occasion will give the District the opportunity to shine a national spotlight on the shameful fact that D.C. Citizens have no voting representation in the U. S. Congress. Our thanks to the sponsors of this creative legislation and for the opportunity to testify.

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The following testimony of the League's Education Committee was presented by Gladys Weaver on Feb. 13th to Mayor Anthony Williams' Public Hearing on the Education Budget funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004. More than 74 individuals and one or two organizations were grouped into panels of 4 to speak before the hearing that lasted past 11:00 pm.

The proposed budget for FY2004 is $847.9 million, an increase of $107.4 million over two years. Thirty percent of the requested increase is for teacher contract pay increase of 9%. The school building repairs and asbestos abatement is an increase of 23%. Instruction and management improvements) is a 19% increase. Other mandatory increases of $31.1 million include union contracts, automatic step increases, inflation and legal mandates. —

Barbara Luchs, Constance Tate, Gladys Weaver Education Committee

Text of Testimony

I am Gladys Weaver of the DC League of Women Voters Education Committee. The League is vitally concemed with all aspects of D. C. Community Life. Our Education Committee, a standing Committee, is conversant with the educational concerns and regularly attends meetings and hearings held by the School Board and the D. C. Council Education Committee.

In recent years, our study of the D.C. schools has included curriculum items, teacher professional development, charter schools and vouchers.. In a meeting with the D. C. League of Women Voters, Mary Levy, formerly of the D.C. Schools and presently with Parents United, presented a publication in which she clearly states the need for increase in Principal and Teacher salaries. We heartily endorse this view. Her recommendations, approved in concept by the Mayor and City Council, were not given the requested funds; but rather, the funds were downsized for these items.

The LWV Education Committee is disturbed that annual salaries for beginning teachers lags $9, $9,000/year and those of experienced teachers lag $13,000-14,000 per year behind teachers' salaries in nearby suburban districts. We believe that teacher and principal salaries should receive top priority in any school budget. If downsizing becomes necessary in budget preparation, deductions should not come from teachers' salaries nor staff development.

The legislation in the National movement, "Leave No Child Behind," requires every school district to develop. a plan for the professional development of its teachers and the upgrading of the curriculum.

Presently, D.C. Schools are unable to fully comply with this requirement due to lack of appropriated funds. The plan will include D.C.-developed standards for all subjects. Mathematics and reading standards must be

developed immediately, and standards in science by 2005. Testing procedures for students will be included with public reporting of results. The School District will be expected to make adequate progress toward stated goals and be held accountable.

None of this can occur without the FUNDING necessary to develop the plan. The Committee strongly recommends immediate release of funds for the implementation of the D. C. professional development plan.

An analysis of budget recommendations and per student spending figures are other areas that need immediate attention. It is the recommendation of the Committee that budget items related to education be given full consideration. Thank you.

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LWVDC Board and Ed Fund Trustees

Note: Items covered in separate articles in this newsletter are not reported here.

Annual Meeting Plans: Elaine Melmed confirmed arrangements for the Annual Meeting and dinner to be held at Gallaudet University on April 24. The cost for the dinner will be $30. Susan Rao will coordinate other preparations for the meeting. It was agreed to invite Representative Tom Davis of the House District Committee to be speaker on that occasion.

Rider on DC Appropriations Bill: Gladys Weaver noted that the DC appropriations bill has been passed, this year with a rider providing for school vouchers for D.C. students, in spite of the fact that local D.C. government officials oppose vouchers:

Brown Bag Dialogues: Anna Marsh said that although attendance at the dialogue on genome research was light, the participants were excited by the quality of the discussion. — Frances Gemmill

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Former LWVDC President Joy Simonson, now President of the Clearinghouse on Women's Issues, invites League members to attend the March 25 meeting of the Clearinghouse when the discussion will focus on Women in the United Nations. The speakers will be Dawn Calabia, Deputy Director, UN Information Centre, and Leila Milani, Co-Chair of the CEDAW working group (see National Program). The meeting will be held from noon to 1:30 pm at One Dupont Circle, 8th Floor; no reservations required. Bring brown bag if you choose. ID is required to enter the building.

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2 3 4 5 10:00 am Mtg. LWVDC Board 6 7 10:00 am LWV NCA Brd. Mtg. 8
9 10 12 noon Unit Council 11 10:00 am Voter Registration of New Citizens
Mar DC Voter Deadline
12 10:00 am Education Cmte 13 14 15
16 17 18 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Southwest
12:45 am Northwest Day
6:30 pm InTown
19 Unit Meeting
9:45 am Upper 16th Street
20 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Chevy Chase/Ingleside
7:30 pm Evening
21 Mar DC Voter mailed 22
23 24 25 1:00 pm, Healthcare Cmte
6:30 pm Homeland Security
26 6:45 pm Rent Stabilization Forum 27 28 29
30 31          

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Paul Vance Learning Annex, The Logan School

10 am - 12 noon: D.C. Healthcare Safety Net

A panel of three: D.C. Councilmember David A. Catania, Sharon Baskerville, Executive Director of D.C. Primary Care Association, and Brenda Emanuel, Deputy Director of the Health Care Safety Net Administration, presented information about the status of healthcare in D.C. Vanessa Dixon served as moderator, and she followed the presentation of each panelist by summarizing it. Those who attended (approximately 50 people) learned that 200,000 D.C. residents are uninsured, that emergency room problems are nationwide, and that the District is not using federal Medicaid support to its full extent because no integrated system now exists.

Ms. Brenda L. Emanuel presented a summary and First Year Overview of the Health Care Safety Net Administration (HCSNA), defining goals and identifying progress toward the goals, reflected in a booklet with statistical graphs and pie charts showing data. The purpose of the HCSNA is to "provide the oversight needed to ensure that DC's uninsured residents are provided full access to healthcare that is of high quality and is cost effective, through the DC Healthcare Alliance." As the first year ended, its coverage had expanded to include 37,614 people. Its goals are to improve the health outcomes of District residents, to decrease inappropriate use of ER and inpatient care, to increase primary and preventive care, and increase the use of the "medical home" model (that is, the concept that each patient should have a medical home through which continuity of care can be provided). Next week a financial report of the 18 months during which the program has existed will be released.

The Alliance was formed after D.C. General Hospital was closed, as a public/private healthcare provider for for those uninsured citizens who earn less than 200% of the poverty level. Services are delivered through an array of clinics in various parts of the city. There are six network hospitals, 44 clinics, and some 820 primary care providers and specialists. The Alliance pharmacy program began in July 2001, and the DC Department of Health was granted a contract with the Department of Defense that enables purchase of pharmaceuticals for all Alliance patients at reduced rates. There has been a steady increase in pharmacy service utilization. Previously, 60% of ER users were there for non-emergency care, for example, because they had run out of medication. As the utilization of the pharmacy service increases, the use of ERs should decline.

Sharon Baskerville of DC Primary Care Association (PCA) agreed that DC coverage for the uninsured is very good. She said that almost all children eligible because their families earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level are enrolled in the program. She played a major role in founding the nonprofit clinic consortium overseen by the PCA. She said the District is not using federal Medicaid support to its full potential, because no integrated system now exists, and she noted that Medicaid is 1/4 of the city's budget. Nursing homes and hospitals account for the largest part of medical expenses, and we have the highest use of ER in the country. As to the question of CareFirst (its proposed sale to a for-profit company, WeIIPoint, from California), Sharon thought this sale would increase the number of uninsured in DC by 11,000. She believes it is tragic NOT to have a public health care system. People are dying for lack of primary care.

Councilmember. David Catania believes DC General was worth saving, because it covered everyone. He suggests that DC should sever its contract with Greater Southeast Hospital and develop a Community Healthcare system. He mentioned the overloading of ERs in other hospitals, often leading to blackouts in emergency service, as a result of the closing of DC General. A hospital is needed in that part of the city. Importantly, we need a national system.

With regard to the CareFirst proposal, Catania sponsored legislation by the Council to require cash and eliminate bonuses for executives, but that has not caused WeIIPoint to discontinue its efforts to purchase.

Now he will look for an amendment to give the Council the authority to override a decision by the Insurance Commissioner that would agree to the sale. He believes WelIPoint, like Greater Southeast, is unreliable. Catania is concerned about pharmaceutical costs. He would propose a purchasing agent, a not-for-profit pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), similar to the Canadian system, which produces a 70% saving in the cost of pharmaceuticals. These savings could be used to fund a purchase plan for seniors, and Catania would open up the PBM so that employers and others could benefit. In addition, Catania emphasized the following points:

Medicaid reform should be a goal. A national search is underway for a Medicaid Czar, who will be able to pull together the various strands so that we can use all the federal $ to which we are entitled.

Homeland Security is reported to be building hospitals with underground parts. Why not persuade them to build one on the site of DC General?


In response to the question how many of the 37,624 people enrolled in the Alliance are duplicates, Ms. Emanuel said that this list is unduplicated - it has been screened to eliminate duplication.

Q.Where do the homeless fit in?
A. The Alliance has no sliding scale, that is, there is no charge for services. The Unity Clinics offer sliding scale fees.

Q.Where does the data re emergency room blackouts come from?
A.The data comes from the Fire & Emergency Service. Unless there is a bed at the ER available for the patient, the ambulance can't go back in service - the patient must stay on the FEMS bed.

Dr. Michael Richardson, a guest, was invited to comment, and he said the de-contamination unit is still working at DC General. He said, "What we want is better outcomes. DC General did not work. Don't go back."

1 - 3 pm: "No Child Left Behind" legislation

Constance Tate of the D.C. League opened the afternoon session of the forum, stating that the book produced by Marian Wright Edelman and the Children's Defense Fund, "The State of Children" provided background for the Act. Raul Gonzalez of the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights organization, and James Ruff, a consultant to the D.C. Public Schools, gave presentations describing the legislation and the potential impact of its provisions.

Mr. Gonzalez, a former teacher in Brooklyn , said many think tanks were involved in developing the NCLB Act. Some think tanks want more state flexibility, while others want to emphasize closing achievement gaps; as a compromise, the Act provides for a process called "devolution" - each state will come up with its own plan.

In many ways, he said the NCLB Act of 2001 is not too different from the 1994 legislation, when the movement toward lots of testing was initiated. With regard to the usual warning that a test should not be used as the sole measure of student achievement or school system accountability, he said "yeah, don't use guns to shoot people." Thus, people need to keep an eye on accountability as schools work toward the requirement that all sub-groups must make academic progress and the Act provides specifically for the role of the community, for example with fundamental questions for parents to ask. Measuring the academic performance of English language learners (ELL) accurately may be particularly difficult. The Act provides that ELL students must be tested, to the extent practicable, in the language and form most likely to yield accurate results, and that they must be tested each year for English-language acquisition.

Presentation by James Ruff of the D.C. Public Schools

How public and public charter schools are complying, anticipate complying, or are having difficulties with provisions of the legislation:

  • The first and foremost difficulty is that the District of Columbia Public Schools does not have access to its Fiscal 2003 budget which is the money we are supposed to spend in the school year that began last September. DC and DCPS are operating on a Continuing Resolution until the President signs the DC Appropriations bill. Even then, if past practice is any guide, DCPS will be delayed another four. to six weeks in getting full access to its appropriations.

Now you might ask what does the fact that we are operating under a Continuing Resolution have to do with the No Child Left Behind Act, Public Charter Schools, compliance, the federal program plan, accountability, assessment activities, or achievement gaps?

The short answer is that the grants are included in the DCPS budget that is approved by Congress. This means that the new parts of the No Child Left Behind Act cannot be spent until the grants are re-appropriated by Congress and signed by the President. This means that not one single dollar of new money that was given to the 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico under the NCLB is available for use as I stand before you today. The District of Columbia Public Schools is forced to implement NCLB without the resources that are available to every State. DCPS and the States received their 2003 grant awards in July of 2002. Almost every State had immediate access to all of the grant funds that were provided. DCPS was forced to spend out its 2002 grant money until September 30, 2002. And you know a funny thing happened to that money on September 30---IT DISAPPEARED. And it didn't reappear until late December after the city finished its fiscal year closeout.

We've learned to bend to this pressure and to do what is necessary to keep the school system running as smoothly as possible; but it is doubly difficult to act like a State Education Agency when the most precious tool of all is eaten up doing patchwork and playing catch up. That most precious tool is of course TIME. DCPS starts last when it doesn't have the required grant money to do the basic implementation steps required by Federal law and funded in the other states.

Now let me bring you up to date on some of the NCLB-related strands of activity that we have been working since last January when the President signed NCLB into law.

  • First came the State application for No Child Left Behind. That was due on June 12, 2002. The preparation of the application (not the State Plan) was begun in April after studying the law, attending conferences and consulting with the US Department of Education, several other states, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of Great City Schools.

DCPS called together representatives of the Charter schools and DCPS SEA and SEA to complete the application. I call it an application, not a plan, because it was a content-free roadmap or schedule of the things that DC needed to do for the ensuing five years to bring the NCLB requirements to life in the District of Columbia. After securing the consent of the Mayor with the assistance of the State Education Office in the Executive branch, we submitted the application on time and received approval in early July. Our grant awards came shortly thereafter.

The next big hurdle we had to overcome was the Choice program. 
  • ID schools based on spring test scores which arrived at the end of June and needed analysis.
  • Devise the transfer pattern and announce to the public. August 10 Washington Post headline said "D.C. GIVING 10,000 THE CHANCE TO SWITCH SCHOOLS. Fifteen low performing sites to Send Students to Stronger Ones"

  • August 19 deadline to register. Over 500 inquiries, 250 transferred. Paying transportation for over 12s and busing the under 12s. Keep in mind we didn't have use of our grant funds as required by law: so we had to improvise ways to pay for this.

  • We have had some minor glitches in getting the Metro card to the students on time; but on the whole the Choice program was implemented without a hitch.

  • Going forward, I expect many more schools to be identified for improvement and fewer and fewer schools to be eligible to receive transferring students under the choice program.

  • The timetable for this activity is very tight. Every State must get its spring test scores and LEAs must immediately begin to identify low performing schools. They need to be notified and have an opportunity to appeal that designation. Once the appeal is past the LEA must identify the receiving schools for would-be transfers and then announce to the public the program. In future years, the requirement to look at the whole school and each subgroup (English Language Learners, Special Education, racial and ethnic groups, and economically disadvantaged - poor- students) may slow the process and create difficulties for school districts. Regardless, LEAs need to notify parents directly and give them a choice to transfer their children before the next school year begins. There is another choice program in NCLB. The unsafe school choice program.
  • DCPS is consulting with charter schools and with other states to define an unsafe school.
  • Schools identified as unsafe will give their students an opportunity to transfer to safe schools

  • Federal deadline for completing this work is late spring 

  • The Board of Education will pass on this definition and the administrative practices supporting it.

One current hot issue is Supplemental Services, which are supported by money under Title I for students in schools that have been identified for school improvement. As mandated by No Child Left Behind, D.C. has provided for 200 children from low-performing schools to transfer to others. The low performing schools are to receive supplemental services - Saturday, after school, and summer academic help for students - which are to be provided by for-profit educational firms.

The Next Big Issue is Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)-Part of our Application in June was to commit to developing a new measure of AYP. This process began, as always, with consultation with other states and the national entities USED, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Technical Assistance Centers, and others.

  • We formed a group consisting of 30 or so people who are representatives of different agencies and levels of expertise. The membership includes public charter schools leaders, the two chartering authorities, advocacy groups, and CCSSO.
  • We have had the USED representatives to visit to to help us sort out some of the sticky issues regarding AYP
  • We are going to have additional USED representatives come to help us sort out some of the sticky issues regarding the accountabilities and oversight of the Public Charter Schools.

  • We will be looking at the assessment being used, the cut scores that define proficient and not proficient, the other measures that will be used, including the graduation rate, which must be used for high schools, and possibly the attendance rate for other schools.

  • Our deadline for this activity is January 31. At that time we must submit to USED the implementation plan portion of our State Plan that addresses the requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress and the overall Accountability System for all schools in the state, yes, including charters.

Next, since you asked, I'd like to address the report card that you are all expecting to see.

First, we don't have the money to do it yet. Refer to my first comment. There is grant money to improve our accountability system that we can't access.

Meanwhile, DCPS has designed the complete new Report Card at the SEA level, which will include each school on a new APDS system (Automated Pupil Data System). The design has been sent to the Superintendent for review and it has been cleared for submission to the Board of Education for approval. (Joel Klein Chancellor of the New York City public schools threw out the report card for NYC because it was too complicated. A new one was designed and is entering use.) Ours is complicated and may need simplifying. The goal is to have it approved so that we can try it out this year after the money is approved.

Achievement gaps

This is one of the biggest challenges educators face across the country and if there is one good thing about the NCLB act, it is that it will finally penalize schools for ignoring the issue of achievement gaps.

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