Making Democracy Work

Action Alerts

Save Ohio's Public Schools

Another Monday. Another voucher action alert. This is getting old. But while the legislature remains deadlocked the message is getting through. Where just two months ago there was little push back on vouchers there is now a full-throated outcry. The damage that they are doing is now clear. The legitimacy of the report card is now openly questioned. The value of public education is finally being heralded. This is all progress. But we have to keep going.

Whats been happening... From February 9-20 the house conference committee on HB 9 held 10 hearings on how to remedy the explosion in the number of school districts that will be responsible for funding Edchoice vouchers out of local funds starting next school year. More than 400 beneficiaries and opponents of vouchers shared their views during 50 hours of testimony. Students, parents, school board members, treasurers and superintendents, education advocates, and concerned citizens from all corners of the state - among them LWVO's education advocacy specialist Susie Kaeser - made the trip to Columbus to address the committee. But the needle has not moved.

Here's What You Can Do Today Governor DeWine will be meeting with house and senate leaders this week. Contact Goveror DeWine by calling 614-644-4357 or 614-466-3555. Urge him to call for an end to performance-based vouchers and the deduction method of funding them. We need his leadership to help prevent the curb the damage done to public education and Ohio communities. Two important points: the report card is not legitimate and can't be made fair; and students and whole communities suffer from the deduction method of funding vouchers. If you testified or submitted written testimony, be sure to send it to the Governor with your request for his help to protect public education.

The senate holds the key. The Senate is holding on to performance-based vouchers and the deduction method + the old system. Their solution uses the report card but ensnarls fewer schools. Take time to ask your state senator if they need help understanding what's wrong with the report card and why tinkering with triggers doesn't solve the problem; if they need to know more about how the deduction method is hurting your community; and if they think private education is more important than strengthening public schools. Ask them to look out for local communities by protecting public education.

Additional Arguments If you want to add to your request make it clear:

  • The status quo is not acceptable.
  • Continued use of an invalid report card, even if it sentences fewer schools to the EdChoice voucher category, is not a solution. The metrics are not fair or reliable, and they discriminate.
  • Continued use of the deduction method forces program cuts or increased reliance on property taxes - both destroy communities.
  • The remedy must help districts already suffering from EdChoice costs. If the report card is broken, it was broken when those districts were defined as Edchoice.
  • To learn more about this issue click here

    We have to keep up the pressure. Public education is in serious jeopardy.

    Rapid Response Request to Curb Voucher Impact on Public School Funding

    The Issue On February 1, the Ohio Department of Education will open applications for EdChoice vouchers for the 2020-2021 school year. Due to multiple changes in the criteria used to define a school as EdChoice, vouchers will be available in more than 400 districts, nearly four times more than during this school year. Vouchers use public funds to pay for private education and most of the cost comes out of local school district budgets. Most vouchers are used by students who never attended a public school. A solution is needed now to prevent expansion of this threat to public school funding!

    The Ask Call House Speaker Householder (614- 466-2500); Senate President Obhof (614- 466-7505); and your state senator and representative with the following message: (Find the contact information of your state legislators here) Public school districts cannot afford to pay for the education of children who do not attend their schools. It is unacceptable to allow for voucher use to grow and further burden local school district budgets while freezing state funds for public schools. Pass legislation before February 1 that will give financial relief to districts already hard-hit by this misuse of public funds, reduces the criteria used to define buildings as failed, and make income based vouchers the default.

    Want to do more? Write a letter to the editor. In 150 words urging legislators to find a solution before February 1. Inaction is not acceptable. Because of the unfair expansion of EdChoice, every state senator represents multiple districts that are affected. They have good reasons to work together to find a solution. They are responsible for providing for a thorough and efficient system of public schools.

    Background EdChoice is the name of Ohio's vouchers that become available based on the test performance of individual public schools. It is one of the high-stakes consequences of Ohio's state accountability program. Legislation included in the Ohio budget for the 2020-2021 biennium vastly increased access to EdChoice vouchers by expanding the performance data used to trigger what schools are designated as Edchoice, and by making it easier for individuals in those districts to access a voucher. They also froze school funding at the 2019 level. Click here for information by OASBO that details all the rule changes that caused this expansion and proposed remedies. https://cms.oasbo-ohio.org/getmedia/617fc629-b8a2-4723-bbd2-18d6b079f5a1/Proposed-Voucher-Solutions-11-2019_Final The number of Edchoice districts grew from 39 of the state's 612 districts in FY 2019 to more than 400 in FY 21. In addition to high poverty districts where low test scores are predictable, Edchoice is now widespread in wealthier districts, urban, rural and suburban. Ohio's unique system for funding vouchers through a deduction method, makes local school districts pay part of the cost of each voucher which, depending on the demand for vouchers and the amount of the local contribution, can quickly hollow out local school district budgets. Funds appropriated for public school students should not be used to fund students who the district does not educate. Most vouchers are used in religious schools, and go to students never educated in a public school.The League of Women Voters Ohio opposes vouchers, rejects high-stakes testing as a misuse of standardized tests, and supports adequate and equitable funding of schools. The EdChoice voucher program is a violation of all three of these positions. Call your state legislators now save public schools!

    Stand up for Public Education

    Learn about the history, cost, and impact of school vouchers in Ohio, which allow students to attend private schools with public funds.

    Community Forum Flyer

    Hosted by:

  • State Senator Teresa Fedor OH District 11
  • Kevin Dalton President, Toledo Federation of Teachers
  • Dan Greenberg NW Ohio Friends of Public Education
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020 5:30-7 p.m.

    Toledo Main Library 325 N. Michigan St.

    Save Public Funds for Public Schools

    Voucher Costs Explode & Endanger Public Schools

    ISSUE: Changes in state law have caused the number of Ohio school districts affected by the expansion of the EdChoice voucher program to increase from 39 to 139, and next year that number is expected to be more than 400 districts! Meanwhile. the legislature froze state aid to public schools for the next two years. Ohio's school voucher programs provide tax dollars to pay tuition at private schools, and the unrestricted growth of the program endangers public education in Ohio. Take action now to protect public schools!

    ASK: Tell your legislators that public funds should prioritize public school children, and that local school districts should not have to pay for students they do not educate. Click here to use our easy letter-writing tool to send a message to your legislators.

    For more information check out this article from Cleveland.com about the growing problem.

    Statement Regarding Gun Safety Petitions from Iris Meltzer, LWVO President

    Dear Board Members of local Leagues,

    It is not surprising that many of you are interested in supporting the petition efforts to place an initiative to close gun loopholes on the ballot in 2021. Certainly, the issue itself is one that is consistent with our positions and we are past masters at petitioning.

    Please remember that given that this is a state-level issue, and the LWVO board voted to remain neutral, no League - local or national - can take any actions or stances that are different. Jurisdictional rules are critical to League operations at all levels. So, just as local Leagues would not want to be contradicted by another League entity about an issue in your local community, local Leagues cannot contradict state policy or position. Actions such as petition gathering or statements made in support are strictly prohibited, though neutral activities like conducting educational forums with a multitude of perspectives is very much encouraged.

    Here are key points that explain the LWVO stance.

    1. The LWVO board voted to stay neutral. Since this is a state policy issue, it is within LWVO's jurisdiction. A local League cannot contradict this stance. The initiative campaign has had several conversations over a six-month period with members of the board, staff, and members of the lobby corps before this vote was taken. There were concerns about a number of issues.

    2. The board looks at four interlocking factors when reviewing ballot initiatives: (a) alignment with existing policies - including the appropriate scope of the Ohio constitution; (b) the clarity and legality of the language; (c) winnability, including campaign plan, budget, polling, etc.); and (d) possible unintended consequences. Our decision is never just about the position itself.

    3. We believe that we will be much better facilitators/conveners of events about the issue than helpers in getting petitions. For that to be the case, our neutrality is key. Local Leagues can be instrumental in hosting balanced forums on the issue. LWV is uniquely suited, because of our trusted brand, to create such opportunities for voters to engage with the issue and neutrality certainly helps with the public trust. Clearly more voters need to understand the initiative and local Leagues have a great deal of know-how that can facilitate this.

    I hope this clarifies the LWVO stance on this.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns.

    In League,

    Iris Meltzer, President

    Take Action for Votder Registration Security in 2020

    SENATE BILL 194 PASSED THE SENATE UNANIMOUSLY!

    Now you can help ensure it passes the House before the end of the year! Send a message to your state Representative to help ensure Ohio makes its voter registration systems more secure.

    WE NEED BETTER REGISTRATION SYSTEMS!

    SB 194 requires the Secretary of State to adopt rules establishing guidelines for the approval and continued certification of voter registration systems. More secure voter registration systems decreases the chance for errors that would disenfranchise voters.

    TAKE ACTION

    Help our Water Supply

    The Ohio Department of Agriculture has draft permits out for 28,800 more pigs liquid manure to be applied at four new pig CAFO's in the Maumee/Lake Erie watershed.

    Please ask Governor DeWine to require that these new CAFO's be required to treat the manure to human/municipal treatment standards and that when manure is applied to require the soil phosphorous to be the agronomic rate (40 ppm) used for commercial fertilizer rather than the excessive 150 ppm allowed for manure.

    Here is a link for the ask to the governor: https://lakeeriewaterkeeper.salsalabs.org/lakeeriewaterkeepergovdewineletter/index.html

    And here is a sample local government resolution to ask for treatment and lower soil phosphorous already passed by Toledo, Lucas County & Oregon. https://files.constantcontact.com/a0c7d23a701/3868602d-ca04-45e1-afb8-f0aa0ab98349.pdf

    Let me know if you have any questions. Sandy Bihn Lake Erie Waterkeeper

    Take Action To Ensure Secure Elections In Ohio

    WHAT: TAKE ACTION to help ensure Ohio makes its registration systems and elections more secure.

    WHY: Every Ohioans deserves to be assured that their vote is safe and secure, so they can vote with confidence and know their vote was accurately counted! More reliable machines would also make it less likely for voters to be mistakenly purged from the voter rolls.

    Click here to write to your senator, and ask them to support Senate Bill 194.

    Senate Bill 194 would require Ohio to adopt security guidelines and standards for the purchase and continued certification of voting equipment and add a cybersecurity expert as a non-voting member of the Board of Voting Machine Examiners.

    Shine a Light on Dark Money: Demand Better Disclosure Laws in Ohio

    What is Dark Money and Why is it a Problem?

    According to the US Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, corporations generally cannot be prohibited from making campaign contributions, but Ohio never updated its campaign finance laws to reflect this new landscape. Ohioans should be able to "follow the money."

    In 2010, an overwhelming majority (8-1) in Citizens United v. FEC emphasized the merits of transparency: "... prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation's political speech advances the corporation's interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are "in the pocket" of so-called moneyed interests... This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages."

    Why is Disclosure & Transparency Important?

  • Disclosure permits voters to consider the source of election information. Is BP speaking? The Farm Bureau? The Hospital Association? Big Pharma?
  • Disclosure can help to deter corruption and avoid the appearance of corruption by exposing large contributions and expenditures. Such exposure may discourage improper pressure on candidates and arms the public with information so that they can detect possible post-election special treatment.
  • Disclosure is essential in identifying any campaign finance violations.
  • TAKE ACTION!

    Member Update on LWVO's Efforts to Fight the Purge

    We are writing to keep you directly informed of our sustained efforts in fighting the next round of voter registration purges. LWVO is working hand in hand with our voting rights partners to make sure that no eligible Ohioan is mistakenly removed from the voter registration rolls. We have had sustained media interest around this issue and a successful press conference today. Click here to view the press release about today's event and our letter to the Secretary of State. Click here to view the full recording of today's press conference with our voting rights partners.

    We need YOUR help to continue this work! Call the Secretary of State's Office. Click here to view our action alert with the number and message.

    SCOTUS Has Spoken. Now It's Our Turn

    Your reaction to this morning's Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering was poignant, swift and full of determination. Many of you have reached out to ask: "What can we do now?"

    Your immediate action is IMPERATIVE to setting the course to right this ship!

    STEP ONE: We have established a SLAY THE GERRYMANDER ONCE AND FOR ALL FUND to help us educate our Ohio voters about the importance of SCOTUS's ruling and the direct impact it will have on their lives for YEARS to come. Your donation will also help us GET OUT THE VOTE in 2020 to insure we elect politicians who are committed to protecting the rights of all voters.

    There was an attack on our democracy this morning and WE NEED YOU TO FIGHT BACK!

    STEP TWO: Urge your legislators to: Take the Pledge to End Gerrymandering

    As we said earlier today ...WE WILL PERSIST! Persistence starts by fighting back. Donate to our SLAY THE GERRYMANDER ONCE AND FOR ALL FUND to fight for our democracy!

    Together, we will overcome.

    Iris Meltzer President League of Women Women Voters of Ohio

    Message from LWVO Regarding SCOTUS Decision on Gerrymandering

    Dear LWVO Members, The gerrymandering decisions out of the Supreme Court today are truly disappointing, but WE WILL PERSIST! We did not give up during our 72-year struggle to secure the 19th Amendment, which is now turning 100. And we will never give up in the longer battle of making sure that the ballot box is accessible to all eligible voters, regardless of race, gender, creed, ability, or language. For the last 50 years, the League of Women Voters of Ohio has worked against partisan gerrymandering, with countless bumps along the way. This decision will not stop us from doing everything we can to bring fair maps to the people of Ohio. We will now turn our eye towards making new congressional and state legislative maps in 2021. With robust public participation in that process, we will hold legislators accountable and demonstrate that all Ohio voters - Republican, Democrat, and Independent - want fair maps. Take comfort in our 100 year history of making democracy work, and stay tuned for next steps. Together, we can and will help our union be more perfect. Jen Miller Executive Director

    Across America: A Conversation on the National Public Vote

    Fund Our Children's Future

    Act now to preserve HB 154 in the state budget and repeal state control of local school districts

    THE ISSUE: House Bill 154 would end the state take over of schools and instead require the creation of community learning centers for schools in low performing districts. It is a constructive solution to the failed state takeover law that is now at risk!

    HB 154 was overwhelmingly approved by the House. Now, some senators want to replace the old plan with a new state intervention that includes funding for consultants but not children. The Ohio School Transformation Plan, like the failed policy it would replace:

  • Includes loss of local control.
  • Uses standardized tests to define school quality, a misuse of standardized tests that produces a narrow definition of quality.
  • Discriminates against poor children.
  • Assumes low test performance is a governance problem.
  • Neither increases the state investment in public schools nor levels the playing field - conditions needed before accountability can be fair.
  • THE ASK - Voice your opposition to a plan that perpetuates the misuse of standardized tests, distrusts local leaders, and punishes poor children. Enter your address on the right to contact your state senator. (A sample message included on the next page...)

    CLICK HERE TO CALL YOUR STATE SENATOR

    Take Action to Make Sure We Count Every Buckeye

    In 2020, we will have the once in a decade chance to count every person in this nation. OHIO GETS MORE THAN $33 BILLION ANNNUALLY based on the Census, and an undercount would mean that your community doesn't get its fair share of resources. From funding for low-income school lunches, to roads, healthcare, and emergency response, Census Data affects our every day lives.

    The enormous and long-lasting impact of the Census count means that nonprofit organizations and local Complete Count Committees throughout Ohio are invested in this cause and want to engage in this work. But reaching hard to count communities requires resources and funding. How can you help?

    You can help ensure we COUNT EVERY BUCKEYE by asking your State Senator to support the funding of Census work. Click below to use our easy letter writing tool.

    ASK YOUR STATE SENATOR TO SUPPORT CENSUS WORK

    Empowering Voters, Defending Democracy

    Time to Call your State Rep to Ensure Smooth Elections A great big thanks to all those who answered our call to action and wrote an email to their state rep about SB22 - the Poll Worker Reduction Bill. LWVO Director Jen Miller testified, and there was interest and questions around the idea of codifying Election Administration Plans! Help us stay on target and make this win by taking the next step. Call your State Representative with an ask to ensure smooth elections for all Ohioans.

    Here's the message >>> I am calling to express concern about Senate Bill 22, which would permit boards of elections to reduce the minimum number of poll workers in precincts that utilize electronic poll books. While cost-savings for local governments is an issue, the changes could result in long lines which may inadvertently turn away voters in some locations. This bill requires additional safeguards which would ensure that a reduction in poll workers at any given location would not cause harm to voters. Specifically, I ask that Election Administration Procedures be required by law. EAPs require Boards of Elections to think through how many poll workers and voting machines are needed based on expected turnout for that election, and would become critical if SB22 was passed. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    What is the Poll Worker Reduction Bill? In a voting location that serves more than one precinct, if electronic pollbooks are used at that location, Senate Bill 22 reduces the minimum number of precinct election officials who must be appointed from four per precinct to two. We know from our many members who work at the polls that there are indeed times during low turnout elections that polling locations can be overstaffed and could effectively manage the polls with fewer people. But we also know that poll worker reductions could be detrimental to voters in some places during a higher turnout election, especially if technical problems were to arise. We believe that Election Administration Plans, required by law, would be a balancing measure to this bill.

    More About EAPs Election Administration Plans require Boards of Elections to systematically plan out all phases of an election to ensure there are adequate resources (poll workers, voting machines, ballots, etc.) for each location, as well as other protections such as requiring a post-election audit to verify results and having pre-thought-out contingency plans in case something does go wrong. However, they are currently a Secretary of State Directive and can change at the whim of any Secretary of State in office in the future.

    HR1

    HR1: Legislation by & for the people. 3 sections: Voting Rights, Money & Politics, Ethics Reform In November, voters sent a clear message across the country that they are ready for bold, comprehensive democracy reforms. Now, the League is working with a broad coalition of over 100 organizations to draft and shape HR1, a policy reform package that will include key democracy provisions :
    • Voter registration: Modernizing the registration process through the expansion of automatic voter registration (AVR), online voter registration, same day registration (SDR)
    • Implementing fair redistricting: It's time to end gerrymandering once and for all so that voters select their elected officials + not the other way around nation-wide.
    • Outlawing voter purging: Prohibiting illegal voter roll purging will ensure that eligible voters will not find themselves wrongfully stripped of the right to vote.
    • Restoring the VRA: Restoring the Voting Rights Act will strengthen our elections by cutting back the obstructive laws that have kept eligible voters from exercising their right at the ballot box.
    • Public Funding: Enable a 6:1 funding for any new candidates who wish to participate. This is not mandatory. It is optional.
    • Disclose Act: Transparency of donors in Federal Elections. 2018 was the highest funding ever - $5 billion election
    • Contact your Representative to ensure that these key provisions stay in the bill. HR1 is a bold legislation to return POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

    Help The Ohio River Valley Maintain Clean and Safe Drinking Water

    HELP THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY MAINTAIN CLEAN AND SAFE DRINKING WATER

    THE ISSUE: The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an interstate commission that represents 8 states, is tasked with creating standards and programs that will decrease pollution and maintain water quality in the Ohio River Basin. Advocates have succeeded in pressuring ORSANCO to abandon original plans of removing pollution control standards along the Ohio River. Now, ORSANCO is attempting to make state adherence to the standards voluntary.

    The proposal will move straight to a public comment period, but the number of public hearings has not yet been determined. So that residents along the river have a chance to be heard and advocate for themselves, a minimum of three hearings located along the river at different locations is essential. There are 33 drinking water intakes along the Ohio River that distribute water to 5 million people living in the Ohio River Valley. To keep Ohioans safe and healthy, strong pollution control standards must be in place. This issue is too important and the stakes are too high. A decision should not be made hastily or without a real chance for public input.

    THE ASK: Please contact ORSANCO Technical Committee member Erin Sherer via phone or email. Below is a sample script.

    Phone: 614-644-2018 Email: erin.sherer@epa.ohio.gov

    I am writing/calling to ask that, as Ohio's representative on ORSANCO's Technical Committee, you request at least three public hearings be conducted in different locations along the river on the new pollution control standards draft proposal. The Ohio River is 981 miles long, and one public hearing is insufficient to allow the millions of residents along the river opportunity to ask questions and provide comments. I appreciate your time.

    Thank you,

    Jen Miller LWV Ohio Executive Director