Columns

My Mistake: League of Women Voters Is Partisan as They Come

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: April 23, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

The League of Women Voters' ringing condemnation of Florida's voucher program Tuesday hit me like a bucket of ice water. All these years, clinging to the belief that the LWV is what it purports to be. I'm done with it.

My mistake.

I finally and officially give up on the nonpartisanship -- or even bipartisanship -- of the organization I once trusted for its even-handedness.

Sunshine State News is more bipartisan than the left-creeping LWV -- and we admit to being right of center. The League admits to nothing.

It isn't just Deirdre Macnab's response to CS/SB 1512 -- in which she gives "a dunce cap" to the Senate Appropriations Committee for "defunding our public schools and placing more money into private institutions with less accountability, poorer results, and unapproved curriculum." This is only one issue. No point in getting into the number of women voters in Florida -- parents and teachers included -- who strongly disagree with the Florida LWV president on vouchers.

It's just that I can't recall an issue in recent years -- not a single one -- in which the League has taken a conservative point of view. Somewhere in the last 15 years, the organization's leadership decided it was OK to take sides and aggressively alienate half the "women voters" in this country -- and many male voters, too.

I was for many years in the 1980s and 1990s a huge supporter of the League of Women Voters. Why wouldn't I be? Eighteen years ago the LWV presented me with the Susan B. Anthony Award, and I felt truly honored. As a journalist, I was ethically comfortable with that because in Martin County, Fla., in those long ago days, the organization was a calm in every election storm. It honored its core, official position, that it is "strictly nonpartisan," neither supporting nor opposing candidates for office at any level of government.

The Stuart News and Port St. Lucie News, when I was managing editor, partnered with the League -- an oracle of election-related wisdom year after year -- to present very successful local candidate forums.

I'm telling you this, because I only feel I've been partially hoodwinked into thinking the League of Women Voters is a non-ideological, good-government group. Partially, because I'm convinced it once was.

Its changes were subtle until, at the turn of the century, League leaders began to emphasize their "other" role -- claiming the organization is "wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy."

The League of Women Voters' Wikipedia website says, "The League works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy, as well as through political lobbying of Congress."

Let's see ... nonpartisan/bipartisan but advocates for specific policy.

Now, that would be a pretty tough line to walk to maintain a reputation for fair play, even if you were a group seen to study all sides of an issue before putting out a policy statement. But when you roll out edicts on handpicked hot topics of the day, and your "specific policy" consistently falls on the same side of the ideological line, then you aren't bipartisan anymore. You aren't even close.

I've just been late in accepting it.

I took time Tuesday to look back at the LWV's 2012 political agenda on a number of state websites. It's a page straight out of the liberals' playbook. I didn't find any kisses for private property rights, debt reduction, Second Amendment rights, the XL Keystone Pipeline -- nothing on the right. Not a single issue.

What I did find in plentiful supply, however, were aggressive treatises on abortion rights; "regionally balanced" transportation systems; legal authority to control the use of land ("stronger state control"); adoption of the California standards for low emission vehicles; limiting smoking in public to designated areas; a more progressive state income tax, with an increase in the number of income brackets and a raise in the rates in higher brackets; and "the state has a role to play in child care" ... and should provide "some form of financial assistance."

I'm not here right now to argue against them. The point is, they're all progressive-liberal-Democratic issues. 

Currently, the League of Women Voters of Florida lists nine issues on its website it calls "most recent accomplishments": 

  • "Blocked the state of Florida's attempts to illegally purge registered voters 90 days before an election.
  • "Reduced gerrymandering by leading the charge for the Fair Districts amendments ..."
  • "Eliminated roadblocks to voting by demanding that the Legislature reinstate early voting days and the Sunday before Election Day ...
  • "Struck down unconstitutional restrictions on voter registration via a precedent-setting victory in U.S. federal court.
  • "Helped place Florida's Water and Land Legacy Amendment on the November 2014 general election ballot.
  • "Led the push for Sunrail, Central Florida's new commuter rail network.
  • "Initiated curbside recycling in St. Petersburg ...
  • "Successfully persuaded Florida voters to defeat nine out of 11 amendments on the 2012 ballot, many of which would have severely eroded the rights of citizens and/or defunded local governments.
  • "Worked with statewide environmental groups to successfully pressure the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to halt the sale of state-owned conservation lands."


Nothing wrong with these issues, particularly if you live in the blue camp. But for conservatives, there's a lot of favored policy missing from this list, and a lot on it they might raise a ruckus over.

I think it's safe to say FLWV leaders are not people who give the folks on the other side of the fence much of a look and listen. They're embedded right where they are. On the partisan left.

The League's attack on vouchers was the straw. My head is out of the sand.


Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.


Comments (14)

time to bite the dust
2:45AM APR 25TH 2014
If the League of Women Voters can be so easily manipulated into supporting something so ATYPICAL of historical American Education and ANTI- US CONSTITUTIONAL as Common Core just because it is being pushed by the conservative Jeb Bush then perhaps it is time or maybe past time the go the way of the Ladies Home Journal - after all everything has a beginning and an end!

The Ladies' Home Journal bites the dust! After 131 years, the July issue will be its last, reports Ad Age. The website will continue on, and the magazine itself will become a quarterly special-interest publication available starting this fall on newsstands, vs. via subscription. Nonetheless, the entire editorial staff was laid off as part of the change.
Frank
2:30PM APR 24TH 2014
Written like the true uber-Partisan SSN has proven itself to be . . . attacking ANYONE not acting or thinking like themselves . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Joel
5:46PM APR 24TH 2014
LOL! Of all the people to accuse anyone of being an uber-Partisan.....
Common Core - federal takeover of education
9:01AM APR 24TH 2014
“Yes, Common Core is a federal takeover of education!”

Posted By Joshua Cook on Aug 11, 2012 in Articles, Big Government, Education, Politics, US News |

Last week activists in South Carolina voiced their opposition to the expansion of Common Core in their state. They believe that Common Core is another federal overreach that takes away yet another freedom in America.

There has been a growing battle in American over education for decades. The “right” has advocated school choice and parental involvement – like in charter schools – and educator accountability as solutions to the problem of diminishing standards. Meanwhile, the progressive “left” has promoted increased centralization, teachers unions and related policies.

Common Core is another step toward the centralization and complete takeover of education under the federal government. Education has always been controlled at the state level. Curricula, educational standards, and teacher accountability have all been regulated at the state level, and each state had its own institutions and structures to govern those regulations.
Common Core will eliminate all of that. The program is a set of academic regulations set by the federal government. Technically, states adopt the standards voluntarily, but financial incentives and changes to related policies – like SAT, ACT and GED tests – make it difficult for states to continue following their own programs. South Carolina opted into the program in 2010, but it won’t be fully implemented until the 2014-2015 school year. Concerned citizens are demanding their state withdraw immediately.

The first, most basic problem with Common Core is that it’s expensive. South Carolina, like many states, was motivated to implement it by the possibility of additional federal funds.

Philip Bowers is the 2012-2015 S.C. Speaker of the House’s Business Appointee, and was part of the Board of Education when Common Core was implemented.

Bowers told us, “Common Core came along around the same time as the Race to the Top and they dangled the money in front of the state and said ‘If you’ll adopt the Common Core, we’ll give you some money, or potentially give you some money.’ That changed our priorities …this is a federal overreach and I was concerned for many reason… I voted against it.”
Bowers listed some of the expenses of the program.

“Common Core tests are administered via computer, whereas South Carolina’s standardized tests are currently administered via paper and pencil. State schools currently lack the computers and bandwidth to administer the tests at one time. This will not only create the tremendous financial burden of adding many new computers to every school in the state, but before that happens, tests could be administered over the course of 12-20 weeks every year. This will not only create unequal situations for different students, it would also disrupt classroom time.

The bigger problem, though, is that Common Core is, indeed, a federal takeover of education. America is a country founded on the principle of separate states, and this has been very beneficial for the country. States can learn from each other’s policies, what works, what doesn’t. The people who implement policies remain more accountable, so the policies remain closer to the people. Perhaps most importantly, states can maintain cultural diversity and a sense of closeness to their unique roots.

All of these benefits will be lost with the Common Core system. The more standardized education is – particularly when it “teaches to a test” the way Common Core would encourage – the less intellectual diversity will exist. On a more personal level, as Bowers put it “why should we be common when every child is special?”

Bowers states that there is no evidence that Common Core standards will be higher. In fact, some of these standards have been very controversial. For instance, the Language Arts standards state that 70% of texts read by high school seniors (and 50% over the course of their educational careers) must be “informational texts” instead of classic literature. Not only would this fail to teach students basic literature and poetry analysis, it opens the doors for blatant propaganda.

These standards were largely written by special interest groups behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. These groups only spoke about the actual standards in vague terms, and gave minimal information before the decision was made to implement the program.

Governors had a two month window to adopt the policies, and those two months occurred while state legislatures were out of session. As previously referenced, this adoption was heavily incentivized using taxpayer money, but that wasn’t the only motive to adopt the policies. In fact, the head of the College Board, which administers college admissions tests as well as Advance Placement exams, was a key figure in the development of Common Core, and those tests will change to fit the standards.

This will not only force students at public schools in states which adopted Common Core to learn to those criteria, it will also force anyone who wants to go to college, whether they went to public, private or home school, in or out of a state which adopted the program to adhere to them. It’s not difficult to see how this will affect the intellectual landscape of the country and force unwilling people to alter their educational programs. This centralization occurs at a time when the U.S. is seeing more and more diversity in education, such as the rise of charter schools, it would stop that progress.

Another freighting aspect of Common Core is that it will involve gathering data from students and their families.

Recently international criminals hacked into South Carolina’s IRS records that resulted in over 3.6 million Social Security numbers being compromised. The idea of allowing the state to collect sensitive and personal information into a database is something South Carolinians vehemently opposes. This information will include religion, beliefs, income, voting status of their parents, competencies, biases, medical information, psychological information, and a history of school discipline. Few of these are related to education, and none should be tracked.

As Philip Bowers said “We changed simply because we thought we might get a little money from Race to the Top, and now we’ve started down this path and no one wants to stop and take a second look.”

We asked Sheri Few, President/CEO of South Carolina Parents Involved in Education if she thought that Common Core was indeed a takeover of education, and if so, what can other states do to oppose this federal program.

“Yes, it is a federal takeover of education!” Few said. “The Common Core testing consortia funded by the US Department of Education (by “shovel ready” stimulus money) are developing the assessments for Common Core, which will drive classroom instruction. We all know teachers are forced to teach to the test because assessments are intended to reflect their performance.

States were also coerced into committing to Common Core standards before they were even finished writing the standards with federal grant opportunities (also funded with stimulus money) and No Child Left Behind Waivers. Data mining is one of the greatest concerns along with the costs associate with the assessments. States would be wise to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced and PARCC testing consortium if they don’t want to incur huge expense and if they want to protect personal student level data. The consortia’s contract with the feds requires them to provide student level data to the federal government. States need to work with their legislatures (who were bypassed in the process of adopting CC) to repeal the adoption of the standards and to protect student data.”
Michael
10:10AM APR 24TH 2014
No. Common Core does not equal the Federal takeover of education. there are very good reasons to oppose Common Core but that is not one.
Really?
2:55AM APR 25TH 2014
Michael - it is easy for these people to manipulate those with small brains. Common Core is Federal takeover of our children's education.

Yes it was manipulated into being by jeb Bush using the Republican Governor's Assn as the incorporator - it was copyrighted! No it was not passed as an act of congress and signed into federal law by the president of the United States because like so many of Obama's and Bush goals even they had sense enough to realize; either Common Core would not pass the congress or it would cause such a stink the US Citizens would open this can of worms and find out it stinks just like Obamacare - you had to buy into it before you find out - How supportive of Islam it is and how supportive of alternative lifestyles it is! (Required reading -PEARSON Prentice Hall World History and THE BLUEST EYE)

So Michael keep taking your checks for Media Matters and George Soros and Bill Gates with the Bushes thrown in - but don't think for one second the people with brains are going to buy into your BS!
Susie Copeland
4:47PM APR 23RD 2014
This has nothing to do with partisan but doing what is ethical, right and just for children in Florida. Where are the stats to to prove non-public schools are doing any better in educating our children? I am a product of public education and I wholeheartedly support Public schools. Granted there are some that do our children an injustice, but there are some doing great things!
birds of a feather
4:04PM APR 23RD 2014
On Feb 28, 2011 Lake County Tax Collector Bob McKee addressed the league of Women Voters in the Villages, Florida and told them he had a Master's Degree in Public Administration.

They were so dumb they took his lies hook, line and sinker, but;
The truth is he doesn't even have a legitimate High School Diploma. Spent 53 days in the Navy and was kicked out (probably for lying about his High School Diploma) and he has enough DUI's between New York and Florida to qualify as a convicted felon.

Rick Scott knows Bob McKee's credentials are fake. But, Bob McKee continues to handle millions of tax payers dollars and is a Director of Cornerstone Hospice where he and his cronies are also handling Millions in Medicare tax payers money! Now that’s something Rick Scott has got some experience with .

Rick Scott don't care that Bob McKee is a criminal and the people of Lake County have no idea who his true identity is because they are birds of a feather flocking together. McKee is to Lake County what Adam Hollingsworth is to Rick Scott and Tallahassee.
Oops. New documents show another degree controversy dogs Scott's COS, Adam Hollingsworth
After twice lying years ago about getting a 1990 college degree, Gov. Rick Scott's current chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth didn't fully disclose the date he received his bachelor's when he filled out a 2011 application for a high-level state post.
But that’s alright – his boss man took the fifth 75 times in 1995 to keep from lying about his Medicare Fraud connections and Miguel Recarey went to South America and Rick Scott and Jeb Bush “ruin” the State of Florida.
Deirdre Macnab
4:00PM APR 23RD 2014
Nancy,
Your listing of our positions is right on target, but your attack on our non partisanship is not. While we got our start registering women to vote, the League quickly realized that women would not only need to be registered but informed on issues, and also to understand some of the key challenges facing the country..such as children working in factories and fields instead of going to school. This was just one of the first issues the League advocated on, and later included issues such as healthcare, environment and fair and open access to voting. Depending on where the parties have been over the years, we have been accused of supporting one side or the other, but in 90 years, we have NEVER endorsed a candidate or a party, per our national and state by laws.
And our support and opposition of issues transcends party lines; in Florida recently we have strongly supported COMMON CORE, a key initiative supported by Gov Jeb Bush, and recently given awards to Republican Senators Rene Garcia (for his leadership on extending affordable healthcare) and to Senator David Simmons ® for his leadership on cleaning up Florida's waterways. We STUDY issues in depth and only advocate after coming to careful consensus. In another example, for decades we pushed fair districts legislation while the democrats were in charge in Tallahassee, and they disapproved of our advocacy, and now, we see the same challenges by current leadership. At the end of the day however, the League which is composed of citizens of all parties, takes the long view, and advocates only following careful study and consensus.
Thank you again for your detailing of our positions and accomplishments, actions which we believe are good for all Floridians regardless of party.
Deirdre Macnab, President, League of Women Voters of Florida
say what
4:15PM APR 23RD 2014
The league of Women voters support Common Core. That tell me they have no idea what they are doing. Common Core is New World Order Training for the youth of America - national takeover of our education system - a direct violation of the US Constitution. So I guess the supported GW Bush and his No Child Left Behind Act as well as his bother Barack Obama's Race To The Top and all that federal stimulus and grants.

And Senator David Simmons isn't he the attorney that represented retired FDLE Agent Sandra Wilson the former UF police officer who was caught using two different dates of birth on her UF Pollice application wasn't it Simmons who sent out letters threatening anyone who would dare tell it> Now she is the Assistant Chief of Clearwater Florida in Pinellas County.

Yep! No wonder the government is in the condition it's in - these idiots know nothing about what's going on and side up with the most corrupt of our political dynasties!
Steve Imes
1:14PM APR 25TH 2014
Given the grammar and spelling demonstrated in this comment, maybe we should have had Common Core a few years ago when 'say what' was in school.
ctaylor
1:11PM APR 23RD 2014
puhhhhlease! League of Women Voters has never shown a drop of neutrality. For such a smart woman, who I don't always agree with, I am shocked that it has taken you this long to come to the correct conclusion. Actions speak louder than words!
Susan
9:27AM APR 24TH 2014
The League of Women Voters is the same small cadre of liberal women it has been for 30 years. They only support liberal causes. They support pro abortion causes. They support anti-business causes. They hate prayer in school, religious freedom (when it is expressed by Christians) and generally ally with liberal causes.

I am proud to be a successful professional woman and a Christian and I stand firmly against the league of Women Voters. Thank you Mrs. Smith.
Fran k
7:11AM APR 23RD 2014
Yes, like AARP, they have a leftist agenda and should be considered suspicious in everything they do and everything they advocate.

They are PATHETIC!!!

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.