ABOUT THIS BLOG
WHO WE ARE
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization of men and women who encourage informed and active participation in government. The League conducts studies and if members reach consensus, it takes positions on major public policy issues. Through education and advocacy, the League works to inform the electorate and impact legislation.
The U. S. LWV has a strong position in support of public education and opposes vouchers. The Florida LWV has reached consensus on the need for reform in the management of charter school programs. The Florida League sponsored a caucus at the 2014 LWVUS convention in Dallas, Texas. The caucus agreed to organize an information dissemination campaign to alert members and others to school reform issues. The blog is the mechanism to promote awareness of these issues.
Sue M. Legg, Chair LWV Florida Project on School Choice
The organizer for these groups is Sue M. Legg who holds the Ph.D. in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation. Early in her career, she taught in public schools, and later she directed the Office of Instructional Resources (OIR) at the University of Florida. Her experience at OIR included the management of several statewide K-12 and college assessment programs for the Florida Department of Education. She was Coordinator of Distance Education at U.F., directed C.I.R.C.A. computing labs, and oversaw a number of other units.
Sue was Chair of the College Board National Advisory Committee for two terms. She headed both state and national professional associations and directed the Partnership in Global Learning (PGL), a consortium of universities in Brazil, Mexico and Florida to collaborate on instructional design for online learning. Under her leadership, OIR managed the Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT); CIRCA, the campus wide computing labs and Help Desk; classroom technologies; media, and tutoring units. For more information see:
WHY A BLOG?
The Education Team blog is a forum to promote the exchange of information on school reform. We do fact-based studies. We encourage posts with reference citations that contribute to a better understanding of different points of view about school choice issues. The Blog Coordinator is Sue M. Legg, Ph.D. from Florida.
School choice programs are designed to give parents a wide variety of choices to educate their children. Traditional public schools have many options to meet children’s differing needs. Charter schools are public schools, but they are privately owned and managed under contract to a state approved authorizer. They are funded directly by state legislatures. Private schools may receive corporate tax credit scholarships, and these schools typically do not have to meet the same requirements for curriculum standards, assessments, or teacher certification
The original intent of school choice alternatives was primarily to foster innovation in teaching and learning strategies to help close the achievement gap between students from primarily low income, minority families and students from more affluent families. Evidence is slim that this approach is working. There are, moreover, strong indications that choice programs have some seriously negative unintended consequences. These problems must be corrected.
Evaluating the impact of choice programs has been a Florida League project for over two years. We have conducted studies and accumulated resources to share with others. The resources cited in this blog are and will continue to be a ‘work in progress’. We include sources that present different points of view that inform our discussion. We welcome suggestions.
The blog does not advocate for particular positions beyond those in the LWVUS Impact on Issues. If individual local or state leagues include their own positions in a post they submit to the blog, they will be identified as such. We recognize that there needs to be some clarity on LWVUS positions regarding school choice, and we have begun that discussion.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
Easy! Subscribe, comment on posts, share articles, contact us with your suggestions. Tell us what you want to know about and how we can improve!
WHAT ARE COMMENT GUIDELINES?
Keep comments civil and respectful of others. Foul language, inappropriate behavior, and spam will not be tolerated. Keep your comments on topic, and provide citations for factual information. Other than that, post your opinion! Let’s engage in civil discussion, which will hopefully bring about collaboration and insight. You must have a wordpress account to comment, and can make one at wordpress.com.
BLOG EDUCATION TEAMS
The There are six national committees that are compiling information on topics related to school choice. National League committees include: Accountability, Curriculum, Facilities, Law, Management, and Vouchers. We held a caucus at the National LWV Convention in Dallas, Texas.
THE BLOG COMMITTEE TEAM LEADERS ARE:
Accountability: Sue Legg has over twenty years of experience with assessment and evaluation programs at the state and university level. She had contracts from the Florida Department of Education for the state-wide implementation of the Florida Teacher Certification Examination, the College Level Academic Skills Test, the SSAT-II High School Graduation Test as well as many other testing, test development and evaluation programs. She received many grants from national agencies and foundations for other activities and has published in these areas. Currently, she is serving as an expert witness in the ‘Citizens for Strong Schools’ lawsuit in Florida. She also serves as a member of the Alachua County Schools Advisory Team, and is chair of her local league’s education team.
Facilities: Pat Drago. Pat is a Florida native who retired from the Volusia County School District in 2009.
The position she held with the school district was Executive Director of Facilities. In that role she directed school site acquisition, planning, design, construction, renovation and maintenance for 10,000,000 square feet of educational facilities. She was also fortunate enough to supervise 350 employees and a $750 million construction program. Volusia County is her home so this was a rare privilege, indeed.
Pat was first hired by the school district due to her advocacy on behalf of the Volusia League of Women Voters. She has been a member of the league since 1980 and has served as local league president and on the state board in the ‘80’s. Her interests are education, land planning and natural resources, and governmental organization. She currently serves as Advocacy Chair for the Florida LWV Board.
Law: Catherine Ahl was born and raised in Crystal City, MO, graduated from Mississippi State College for Women, taught physical education for a year in Atlanta, GA, and then married John Ahl, a Naval officer.
From 1967-1994 Catherine moved around the country and the world with her family. They were stationed in Northern Ireland, Thailand, Laos, and the Philippines as well as VA, CA, MS, WA, and NJ. Catherine taught for several years and has been an advocate for education all her adult life.Prior to moving to WA State in 1995, Catherine was the Education Specialist with the National Military Family Association in Washington, DC and advocated for military children’s education at the Pentagon and in Congress. She also served as Director of Government Relations for two years and received the Association’s Most Valuable Volunteer Award in 1994.
In 1997 Catherine was appointed Education Chair for the League of Women Voters of WA and has been following legislation and advocating for education in Olympia ever since. She served on the state League Board from 1998 to 2003 and was on the LWV Kitsap Board from 1997 to 2012, serving as President from 2009 to 2012. In 1999 Catherine was elected to the North Kitsap School Board and served for 8 years. She received the WA Education Association’s Friend of Public Education Award in 2005 and the North Kitsap PTA Advocacy for Children award in 2008. Catherine campaigned statewide for passage of Initiative 728 (reducing class size), defeat of two charter school initiatives and one referendum, and passage of simple majority for school levies.
In May 2013 Catherine received the Liberty Bell Award from the Kitsap County Bar Association. Catherine was recognized for her tireless advocacy of the state’s “paramount duty” to provide ample funding for education for all its children as well as for playing a key role in passing a law to require that all high school students receive instruction in civics, effective for the high school graduating class of 2016.
Management: Pat Hall has been a resident of Tampa for 40+ years. She is a graduate of Florida State University with an M.S. in Vocational Education. She was a teacher and Dept. Chairman in the Hillsborough County School district, retiring from Jefferson H.S.
A LWV member since 1982, she has been a board member multiple times and served as HCLWV President 1989-1990. Under her leadership, LWV was credited with pushing the HC School District to eliminate single grade centers and move to a Middle School structure. Pat initiated a successful partnership with The St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Edition to publish all LWV questionnaires from candidates. She started the initiative with Channel 13, and Channel 8 to begin televising debates and forums with political candidates. She has two grown children and is currently the Chair of the Charter School Study and Consensus for Hillsborough County committee.
Dr. Meredith Machen is the co-chair of the Management Committee and is the President and Education Chair of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. Before becoming active with the League, she was an educator for 38 years. At Santa Fe Community College, she taught English and Human Development courses for 25 years and administered numerous programs, many of which were aimed at helping educationally and economically disadvantaged community members succeed. The Educational Leadership division she headed focused on teacher training, academic preparation and enrichment, service-learning, prevention programs, civic engagement, and social advocacy. As Director of the Intercultural Leadership Institute, she brought together individuals and organizations to address community issues and to provide positive, practical solutions. Through partnership development and coalition-building, staff, faculty, and volunteers worked together on programs and outreach services to improve education at the district, state, and national levels. Meredith served on several educational policy committees ranging from early childhood development through higher education including high school/college curriculum alignment, articulation, academic preparation, access, dual credit, and improving student outcomes. She continues her passion by working with groups that are committed to creating economic, social, and environmental justice and spends her time researching and analyzing issues, developing policy options, and informing community members, leaders, and government officials.
Vouchers: Marian Bott is the Education Finance Director of the New York League of Women Voters. She holds the Ed.D. from Columbia University in Organizational Leadership and the MBA in Finance from Stanford University.
In 2014, she made a presentation on behalf of the League to the New York Assembly Ways and Means, Senate Finance and Assembly and Senate Education Committees on PreK-12 budget. In 2012, she testified before the New York Senate over the League’s concern about the School Property Tax Relief Program’s probable impact on equitable allocation of funds for poorer school districts. Marian co-chaired the League study of the Star Program. In January 2012, Marian also testified at a Legislative Public Hearing regarding the K-12 education budget and mechanisms to narrow the funding gap between wealthy and poor districts. In 2006, Marian led a 15 month study of the impact of STAR funding and charter schools on funding for public education.
The blog editors are from Florida leagues in:
Alachua, Collier, Lee, Palm Beach, Pensacola, and Sanibel counties. They are: Carolyn Gray, Una James, Marcia Maloni
Regular blog contributors are from Florida leagues in: Alachua, Jacksonville, Saint Johns, and Sanibel counties. They include Bernadette Miron.
The Blog Design Team is: Oscar Koeneke, Blog Designer; Katy Burnett, Blog Communication Consultant; Mehek Mirchandani, Blog Communication Consultant
FLORIDA SCHOOL CHOICE STUDY
The Florida Education Team conducted a statewide study on school choice in 2012-13 that resulted in consensus for positions on charter schools. The State Board approved the League positions at the April 2o14 convention In Tallahassee. The study included 20 leagues from Miami Dade to Escambia counties. Members have a wide range of backgrounds and share a commitment to public education. The report was accepted at the April 2014 Florida Caucus in Tallahassee, and the teams from across the state came to celebrate.
The Florida LWV Education Team Caucus in Tallahassee in April 2014 decided to go to the National Convention in Dallas.
The study reports are posted at: Final Report: Statewide Study on School Choice and Consensus. and Interactive Map of Local League Studies of School Choice.