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The two presenters were Liz Ennis and Melissa Clapper, both LWVBCC Board members, on the League of Women Voters of Michigan Education Committee and retired educators. Melissa was an elementary school teacher in Berrien Springs and teacher union leader and Liz the Superintendent of a large high school district in Illinois. They used a Power Point prepared by the League of Women Voters of Michigan, added a bit of spice with a video of educator Diane Ravitch's appearance on the Daily Show and threw in a healthy dose of their own experience.
There will be another meeting on this topic, tentatively scheduled for April 10.
Melissa Clapper and Liz Ennis had a very good day!
Dave is the state representative from District 78, which includes all of Berrien County and part of Cass County.
Drop in and tell him how you feel about state issues. Otherwise he won't know!
The two titles are:
"Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Pubic Schools" by Diane Ravitch
"Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World's Leading Systems" by Marc Tucker and Linda Darling Hammond
The Book Group will meet at 10:00 AM on Monday, January 13 in Union Pier.
"One of the things we have in common is our love of the land and the satisfaction we get from nurturing the land," Three Oaks farmer Bob Schuttler said. "My question is who will take over from us and who will we pass the land to?"
Schuttler and his wife Janet spoke Friday at the League of Women Voters forum on the future of agriculture along with Joel Layman of Dowagiac and Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs. Layman raises grain crops on 2,000 acres of land, Pagel has a small orchard plus a produce packaging business and the Schuttlers have a small cattle farm called Middlebrook Farm.
The farmers addressed everything from the federal farm bill that's stalled in Congress to the rise and subsequent backlash against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
It is not uncommon for outsiders, and even some members, to question how the League can be nonpartisan yet advocate on positions that, in the slice of time that is now, appear to be partisan. In the highly partisan climate that has developed in recent years, the League is one of the very few political organizations that is not in either the liberal/Democratic camp or the conservative/Republican camp. And we have members of all political persuasions and encourage them to get involved in politics. So members may be partisan but the organization is not. All this is hard for many to wrap their minds around.
The League is nonpartisan in that we do not endorse or support any political party or candidate for office. We don't rate legislators, we don't track their votes and we don't threaten them if they don't vote our way. Voter service is one of our main missions and we publish nonpartisan voter guides and hold candidate forums to help voters educate themselves beyond TV ads. Education is an important League function, and we try in our meetings and in this newsletter to inform our attendees/readers and stimulate them to think about issues in our world.
However, the League is also an advocacy group, and we have positions on issues that have been developed over the years since our founding in 1920 and are the result of study and consensus of the local Leagues nationwide. These positions are updated from time to time, but are basically consistent. The positions and platforms of the political parties, on the other hand, do change and at times they resemble our League positions, or not. But the League doesn't change or drop it's positions because they are currently those of one party or the other. And we do speak out!
An example is health care. The League has a position on comprehensive health care for all Americans. President Truman liked that idea too and President Eisenhower delivered a special message to Congress on January 31, 1955 recommending a comprehensive health program for Americans. Read it here. Lyndon Johnson got Medicare passed and that took the pressure off for awhile. But President Nixon encouraged HMOs as a way to rein in costs and provide health care for more people. Then President Reagan came along and decided the free market was the best way to manage health care and the Republicans have basically supported this idea since. But clearly both parties have been on both sides of the issue.
The key is not to confuse politics with position advocacy.