Jeb Bush Supports Betsy DeVos

Many of you may know that the nominee for U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos serves as a board member on Jeb Bush’s pro choice Foundation for Excellence in Education.  Bush has written a letter in support of her nomination.

Bush argues that opposition to school choice is based on two false narratives.  The League has no formal position on this appointment.  So, you decide.  Let your Senators know what you think.

 

 

 

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New Mexico: Charters Need Regulation

new-mexico
by Meredith Machen
LWVNM has a new charter school position that shows where we stand. We need to stand together to fight all attempts to drain essential resources from traditional public schools!
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LWVNM Charter School Regulation Position

Adopted by the LWVNM Board, November 12, 2016

The League of Women Voters of New Mexico believes that every student should have access to a high quality, publicly funded education regardless of race, ethnicity, family income, or geographical location.  The League believes in accountability, transparency, and equity in the use of public funds for education.

 Charter schools are discretionary programs intended to fill unmet needs and/or to test innovative instructional strategies to produce quality educational outcomes. Policy makers must ensure that adequate funds are available for traditional public schools and define how charter schools fill unmet needs.  Appropriate instructional and support services must be provided to meet the diverse needs of individual students in both traditional public and charter schools.

Regarding the mission of charter schools, the LWVNM believes the following:

  • A charter school should not be authorized unless

its mission would serve a need the traditional schools cannot;

funds are available;

there is a demonstrated need based on student population projections.

  • New Mexico should provide flexibility and supplemental funding for magnet programs and career academies within traditional public schools.
  • Charter school innovations demonstrated to be effective should be disseminated to improve the traditional public education system.
  • The state should establish a closure policy revoking the contract of a charter school that fails to meet minimum academic, financial, and organizational standards for two consecutive years or for two of the three most recent years.

 For the sake of assuring accountability and transparency and minimizing the fiscal impact, LWVNM recommends the following:  

  • A charter school’s finances should be available for public scrutiny, and budget processes should be similar to those for school districts, which require the public to be provided with an opportunity for input into decision-making.
  • Charter school governing council members should adhere to standards and best practices as delineated by the NM School Boards Association.
  • Funding to state-chartered schools should minimize the amount allocated to for-profit management and business operations with oversight provided by state-approved auditors.
  • The school funding formula should be equitable so as not to advantage charter schools over traditional public schools. 
  • NM should develop an effective performance-based accountability system for charter schools focused on increased proficiency, academic growth, and college/career readiness standards to ensure that charter schools demonstrate positive student outcomes. Charter schools that do not meet the established benchmarks should be put on time-limited improvement plans and not allowed to increase enrollment until they have met the benchmarks.

 

LWVNM believes that public funding for virtual schools should be less per student since the schools do not require brick and mortar facilities.

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For more information about the League’s formal two-year comprehensive Charter School Regulation Study and how this position was determined through research and member consensus, please contact president@lwvnm.org. This position will be incorporated into LWVNM’s complete Education position available at http://lwvnm.org/positions.html#education.

 

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LWV New Mexico Proposes Charter School Study

by Meredith Machen

bisti-939735_1280League of Women Voters of New Mexico Study

Charter School Regulations: Public School Funding, Accountability, and Transparency

Scope of Study: In the context of the growing emphasis of some governmental policy-makers on promoting charter schools, this study will review information regarding the regulations and policies from which charter schools are released to determine if the exemptions from regulations may impede the progress of traditional public schools and the sufficiency of funding for public schools.

Because charter schools are publicly funded, the study raises the question of whether they should be held to standards of accountability and transparency that are at least as rigorous as those of traditional public schools. The study will also examine the need for changes in charter school regulations regarding their missions (which now allow adults to get their high school credentials, have specialized curricula, and alternative assessments), their governing bodies (which are not publicly elected or complying with the Open Meetings Act), their  operations (which are not publicly audited), and rules for authorization and reauthorization.

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LWV New Mexico Focuses on Strategies for Academic Success

by Meredith Machen, LWV New Mexico

nm2Meredith Machen, President of the New Mexico League, has just won The New Mexican 10 Who Made a Difference award for 2015.  She sends us their LWVNM positions and strategies to support public education.

This could not be more timely.  Here in Florida, we are working on a similar statement.  It is easier to criticize the many shortcomings of current education policy than it is to formulate workable strategies, but New Mexico has set a high standard.  They address many current problems in constructive ways.

The LWV-Florida is compiling strategies from other state leagues as well.  Send us yours.

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Comparing Teacher Salaries to Similar Professions

teacher-23304_1280Teaching, like nursing used to be thought of as “women’s work”.  I remember my own father saying that it was a good way for a woman to combine a job and family responsibilities.  I also remember my first salary as a teacher, $5,200.  The world of work for women has changed dramatically since then.  Many of those early attitudes, however, linger.

I became curious about the comparative status of the teaching profession with similar occupations.  Salaries, benefits, and hours/days worked are figured in.  How do you compare teachers’ and pilots’ work time?  These are not idle issues.   They are at the heart of attacks on teacher unions and the teaching profession.  What is fair; what should change?

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Florida LWV Legislative Priorities Due

legislation1The Florida LWV legislative priorities are coming due.  Please make your voices heard within your local leagues.  In order to be able to advocate for our Education Team issues, we have to make it into the top priorities statewide.

Make education tops for your local league.  Here is a list of topics we expect to come up in the legislative session.  Remember that committee meetings start in September.

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Florida League of Women Voters Positions on School Choice

lwv florida logoSome of you have been asking about the Florida League positions on school choice.  The positions were formally adopted at the convention last year.  They will be included in Study and Action when it is updated.  The League strongly opposes tax credit scholarships.  The Florida League  supports Florida’s constitution provision for a uniform, efficient, high quality public school system.  While charter schools are legally public schools, the League supports stronger district management and oversight to make them better conform to constitutional requirements.  Specific principles and positions are listed below.

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LWV Presentation to the Florida Senate Education Committee Workshop on Charter Schools

photoSue close upThe Senate Education Committee held a workshop on March 11th on proposed bills for charter schools. The list of bills was organized by topic. Sue Legg, Chair of the League’s Education Committee, made a presentation to the committee. She focused on three of the Committee’s topics.

Here is an edited version of her remarks.

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