Forward to January 1999 DC Voter Back to League of Women Voters main page Back to November 1998 DC Voter
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Charitable Solicitations Status Report
LWVDC Vice President Meets African Women Interns
October Unit Meetings: Members Host School Board Candidates
Reminder: December 8 Meeting on the Future of Medicare
|Charter School Information
Letters to the Editor, The Washington Times
Why Dont People Vote? Search Me by Courtland Milloy
Welcome New Members
Human Rights Symposium
LWV/NCA Water Task Force Committee
Sample Membership Program
Fall Finance Drive
To Join the League of Women Voters
December is Units' Choice. We are also having a General Meeting Dec. 8 on the future of Medicare. See page 2 for details, and please read the fact sheet for the discussion included in this issue.
Around election time the press noticed the League. On October 28, Courtland Milloy quoted Elinor Hart and me in his Washington Post column, "Why Don't People Vote?" On November 11, the Washington Times Letters to the Editor (edited and) printed the response of the D.C. and NCA Leagues to an editorial of October 18. Their editorial criticized the lawsuit, which we support, demanding full voting representation. Thanks to Barbara Yeomans for the unabridged text of the letter.
The distribution of 50,000 School Board Voters Guides and the efforts of Making Our Votes Count working with DCTV paid off in greater than expected voter turnout on November 3. We still have a long way to go. Because of the importance of this election, we spent more money than usual in hopes that you who recognize this importance, will contribute more money than usual.
The Fall Finance Drive is here, and I want to thank those who have been generous with the League. I encourage those who haven't yet contributed to do so soon. If you need a tax deduction, make your check payable to LWVDC Education Fund for our citywide educational program. To put teeth in our advocacy work, make it payable to LWVDC (no tax deduction).
I want to apologize to Dianne Rim for errors in the Coffeehouse article which she submitted to the last Voter. An abridged, corrected version appears in this issue. The next D.C. Voters & Friends Coffeehouse will be produced by our Trinity College student members in late January.
The UNA Human Rights Annual Luncheon takes place, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at the Cannon House Caucus Room on Thursday, December 10. D.C. Councilmember Hilda Mason is the LWVDC honoree at this event. Call 202/785-1940 for information.
Dec 2 (Wed) noon, LWVDC Board Meeting,
LWVUS, 1730 M Street, NW
Members of LWVDC can still contribute funds in support of the D.C. League and/or its Education Fund, while we work with D.C. officials to straighten out matters concerning outside fundraising.
On October 16, 1998, Betty Nyangoni, LWVDC Vice President for Administration, met with 16 African women who were participating in the League of Women Voters Education Fund project, "Women Power in Politics: Building Grassroots Democracy in Africa." The occasion was a luncheon held at the Holiday Inn Governor's House, where the issues of democracy in D.C. and the work of the League of Women Voters were discussed. A lively exchange with African interns hailing from countries in East, West, and Southern Africa followed.
The African interns made up a diverse group of activists, representing different religious groups, ethnic groups, and organizations. However, all share a commitment to civic education and the power of women at the grassroots level, in their countries. From this meeting, the League of Women Voters D.C. received an invitation and two requests. From Madam Maomi Kaibula of Tanzania we received an invitation to attend the Annual Gender Studies Conference from November 24-27, 1998 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which is sponsored by the Tanzania Gender networking Programme. For additional information, contact
One request came from Sennie-Sheba Dube-Phiri, councilor for Zim Rights, a human rights organization based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Zim Rights is requesting funding for its "Election Monitoring Project." This project involves a series of educational workshops that are aimed at enhancing participatory democracy for elections in the year 2000 and the Presidential Elections in the year 2002.
According to Ms. Dube-Phiri, "It is necessary that preparations are done early enough so as to adequately put all the logistics in place before the event."
A project proposal is available in the headquarters of LWVDC. Additional information can be obtained from
The second request was from Warda Rajab, District Coordinator for the National Organization for Civic Education and Elections Monitoring in Kampala, Uganda. She is interested in attending graduate school in the U.S. in the field of social sciences. She would appreciate information on admissions, fellowships, scholarships, and other aid for her studies. Ms. Rajab can be reached at
League members are encouraged to explore further these opportunities for connecting with our African colleagues.
Sincere appreciation is extended to Orna Tamches, Program Manager for the LWVUS International Relations, for arranging this luncheon meeting. It proved to be an excellent exchange on democracy, grassroots organizing, voting and related issues in the U.S. and in Africa. Betty Nyangoni
Chevy Chase, Call for address, Sue Whitman, 202/347-3020, Dec 16 (Wed)
October Unit Meetings: Members Host School Board Candidates
Candidates for the DC Board of Education (popularly known as the School Board) were guests of LWVDC meetings during October and participated in excellent dialogues with each other and with League members and friends on the most pressing issues facing D.C. public schools including charter schools, community and parental involvement, and the role of the Board as consensus builders.
Five Ward 7 candidates attended Southeast Unit's meeting Dorothy Douglas, Herbert Boyd, Tom Kelly, Bernardyne Williams, and Sam Bost.
John Howard, Dwight Singleton, and Tommy Durren, Ward 4 candidates, were present at Upper 16th Street's meeting.
Southwest Unit hosted Ward 2 candidates Westy Byrd, Deering "Tip" Kendrick, and Malcolm Lovell.
Gail Dixon, new At-Large member, visited the Chevy Chase Unit. At-Large candidates attending Northwest Evening's meeting were Robert Artisst, Gerry Counihan, and Darryl Ross. Robert Artisst also was the guest candidate at the Northeast Day Unit.
Many aspects of the public schools were examined. The candidates were uniformly "leery" (in one candidate's words) of charter schools. They felt that contracts should outline expected performance levels, and audits should be not only financial but also educational. They objected to vouchers for attending private schools, as "taking the money out of the public schools." They pointed to D.C.'s successful alternative schools, such as Banneker High and Duke Ellington, and they felt that our tax money could be better spent on troubled schools and special education.
Candidates expressed the view that the Board of Education needs to be trained to work together as a body, to build teams and create consensus. Its members need to perform greater oversight of the system, and work closely with the current superintendent. They applauded the superintendent's reduction of administrative personnel, and looked for continuing reduction in that area. They would emphasize financial accountability, and look to see that grant money "gets to the students."
Four additional ideas were stressed: enforcement of truancy laws should be returned to the principals (now in the Police Department); teachers should receive higher pay to guarantee the quality of instruction; greater use should be made of the schools for afterschool programs and community activities; and (strongly stressed) they would look to greater involvement of parents and the community. Joan Domike
Congratulations to newly-elected School Board members!
Reminder: December 8 Meeting on the Future of Medicare
Per our alert in the November issue of The DC Voter, there will be an all-member meeting on December 8, Sumner School (Lecture Hall, 2nd floor), 17th & M. Streets, NW, 10:00 a.m.noon. Laura Blaisdell, Assistant Project Manager, LWVEF, will join us along with, we hope, a representative of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, LWVEF's joint sponsor. Ms. Blaisdell has arranged for each attendee to receive a special packet of information prepared by the Foundation in conjunction with LWVEF. Note: This is a special meeting in a special place; no food or drink is allowed in the elegant hall. Included with this issue is a special insert with background information about Medicare. Please be sure to review it in advance and keep it for the December 8 meeting. Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice-President (National Program)
Members of the D.C. League of Women Voters, community activists, and Trinity College students gathered for an informal evening at Brookland's Cup of Dreams on Monday, September 21, 1998.
Lori Tsang read poetry from her books Circumnavigation and Undertoe. She received the 1997 Mayor's Arts Award for Outstanding Emerging Artist, and her award-winning film Chinamen's Choice exhibited in festivals and universities. Greta Elliott from the H Street Development Corporation participated as emcee and joined the League that night.
Yolanda Palls immigrated from the Philippines to Europe where she worked fifteen years as a domestic worker before moving to the U.S. Yolanda's written work is published in Returning a Borrowed Filipino Tongue and Filipino American Poetry edited by Nick Carbo. She elucidated the disillusionment suffered by immigrants. Yolanda's organization, Shared Communities, Inc. advocates for fair employment practices on behalf of domestic workers.
Eugene Kinlow articulated the need for fair practices in the official treatment of Ward 8. He spoke about the lack of restaurants or even a supermarket in the ward, while plans are advanced for a private prison.
Other community activists shared their experiences. Former candidate, Bill Lewis emphasized the importance of voter registration, noting that candidate petitions can be disqualified if the signers are not registered. Kathy Schmidt spoke about Voter Education in the city's schools and the School Board Candidate Guide.
The next Coffeehouse will be hosted by the new Trinity Unit and held on Trinity College campus in Northeast in late January. For details, e-mail Jenn Kletter, firstname.lastname@example.org D.C. Voters & Friends Committee
The Education Committee met on Tuesday, November 10 to discuss charter schools. Summary charter school information appears in this Voter.
Luci Sings at White House Vigil: We may not have a vote in Congress, but we did have a voice at the U.N. Vigil held in front of the White House on October 23. LWVDC President Luci Murphy opened the event with "Songs of Peace." The familiar words "I Ain't Gonna Study War No More" resounded powerfully across Lafayette Park, drawing many others to our group. Signs called for the U.S. to pay its dues to the U.N. "in full", "on time" and "without conditions," a reminder that Congress had just adjourned without addressing the outstanding problem of the arrears owed the U.N. by the U.S. Luci was followed on the program by actor Michael Douglas as well as by a number of speakers associated with the U.N. or the United Nations Association. It was a lovely fall evening. Plan to light a candle for the U.N. with us next fall if the arrears problem remains unresolved.
Assessments Paid Just in Time: News reports indicate that the U.S. recently paid another $197 million in dues to the U.N., which brings U.S. accounts to the regular U.N. budget almost up to date for calendar 1998 and saves us from losing our vote in the General Assembly.
But the Arrears Remain Unpaid: As expected, the President vetoed other legislation that would have paid a major part of our outstanding arrears to the U.N. of approximately $1 billion, (primarily to pay for past U.N. peacekeeping operations approved by the Security Council where the U.S. has the veto) because of an unrelated amendment restricting international family planning aid. The Administration and the 106th Congress will need to address this outstanding issue as a first order of business. It is the League position that the arrears payment should be authorized promptly, this time without conditions or unrelated amendments. Sheila Keeny, Chair
Full Voting Representation in Congress for D.C. Do you feel like the cat hanging on the wire, waiting for some public evidence that work is being done on the issue of Congressional Representation for D.C. (besides my reports in the DC Voter)? Is your frustration level high and going higher? Hang on!!
The organizational effort I reported on earlier is coming to fruition. A coalition is being launched to take the issue to the country. To our advantage is the fact that Congress is out of session and credible preparation can take place now.
Several D.C. Leaguers attended an initial organizing meeting on October 28 to form the coalition officially. The precise name is still to be settled formally, but for now we refer to it as the Coalition for D.C. Congressional Representation. Both the D.C. League and LWVUS are participating. The paperwork for legal authority to solicit funding was being completed at the beginning of November and major foundation support will be solicited so that basic staff positions can be established. The organizers of the new coalition are drawing on experience of the former coalition, Self- Determination for D.C. (which pushed for Congressional representation and home rule back in the 1970's) as well as organizations like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
The principle focus for efforts will be in support of the current petition and related lawsuit seeking redress from Congress. More visible efforts should be coming into view by the New Year. I have supplied organizers with background material on the old D.C. coalition as well as on the Congressional voting-rights petition campaign which the D.C. League spearheaded in the late 1960's-early 1970's. This includes information to be part of an information packet to gain support for the coalition and pursue action in concert. When our friends are asked to speak for us, they are entitled to be well prepared. We aim for success!
Kathy Schmidt, as a plaintiff to the lawsuit for voting representation in Congress, reminds us that, as we go to press, the second set of papers associated with the lawsuit are to be filed around November 16. These relate to arguments seeking the declaratory judgment desired. Those opposing are to submit arguments around December 18.
As there are further development, we shall keep you posted.
P.S. The Washington Times on November 11, 1998 published our letter indicating that District citizens deserve congressional representation with voting power. We took issue with the editorial's belief that Congress did a good thing in denying use of local funds to pursue the lawsuit. Our letter has the support of LWV/NCA. A copy of this letter follows. It was edited by the Times; mention of the petition was omitted, and the petition was not included. Barbara Yeomans
Charter schools have existed for approximately six years, beginning in Minnesota and growing nationally. Latest figures from the Center for Education Reform show nearly 1,100 charter schools, with 30 more scheduled to open soon, throughout the country. Although all not all states have laws allowing for charter school establishment, among the 29 states and the District of Columbia where charter schools operate, the growth is commanding increasing attention. An estimated quarter million students attend charter schools across the U.S. today.
What are Charter Schools? Charter schools operate with public money but are independent of nearly all the mandates that public schools must follow. The schools control their budgets, curricula and the hiring and firing of staff. Many are designed to approach education in creative, innovative or nontraditional ways. A charter can be revoked by the issuing authority.
Reasons for Selecting Charter Schools. According to parents (and some students) who have chosen charter schools for their children (or themselves), they are looking for smaller classes, more personal attention for the pupils and the desire to capture some of the enthusiasm and innovation they believe is missing from the public schools. Some have indicated their hope to leave behind crowded classrooms, boring lesson plans, discipline problems and teacher burnout.
Diversity of Charter Schools. Charter schools are diverse. They offer a great variety of thematic instruction from Afro-centric to maritime studies and many other themes in between. Arts, language studies, math, science and technology are just a few other foci for charter school instruction.
According to Joe Nathan, from the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota, "The charter school movement appears to be doing what it was intended to do, which is to give people the opportunity to identify educational needs in the community that are unmet."
The biggest growth of charter schools is in Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and California.
Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. In Washington, D.C., charter schools are reflective of a national trend. As of September 1998, 19 charter schools are in operation with three additional schools approved to open. Two entities grant charters for schools to open in the city: the D.C. Board of Education and the D.C. Public Charter School Board. The latter was established by order of the U.S. Congress.
Acceptance of Charter Schools. There is not universal acceptance of charter schools. Most of the opposition seems to have come from those who are philosophically opposed to any education reform or change which would take resources (financial, human or otherwise) away from the public schools. It should be noted that neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia do not have charter schools. At this time, the legislators in both states have been considering charter schools.
For additional information about charter schools, contact these organizations:
Center for Education Reform. 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 204, 20036. 202/822-9000. Fax: 202/822-5077. Contact: Jeanne Allen.
D.C. Board of Education. 825 N. Capitol Street NW, 20002. 202/442-5454. Contact: Joseph Carillo.
D.C. Public School Charter Resource Center, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 301, 20005. 202/835-9011. Fax: 202/659-8621. Contact: Shirley Monastra.
D.C. Public Charter School Board, 1717 K Street NW, Suite 802, 20006. 202/887-5011. Fax: 202/8875026. Contact: Nelson Smith.
Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS). 1530 15th Street NW, Suite 001, 20003. 202/387-0405. Fax 202/667-3798. Contact: Danny Rose.
Note: The D.C. based Charter Schools Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization assisting in the development of charter schools, is establishing Kinder Mae to offer loan guarantees, interest subsidies and other enhancements to selected charter schools. The contact person is Richard Thompson.
This information was obtained from the Center for Education Reform, Washington D.C. Education Committee
Letters to the Editor, The Washington
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