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Category: Front Page News

LWVMA Supports Civic Engagement in Schools

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) and its Education Committee submitted testimony to the Joint Committee on Education hearing on October 31, 2013, on bills S.203 and S.254. These bills – acts to involve youth in civic engagement – provide youth input in the development of a curriculum to provide the means for students to be knowledgeable and informed and encourage active engagement in the democratic process.  In addition we support the inventory of school district compliance with section 2 Chapter 71 of the General Laws in S.254.

Since the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993, LWVMA has monitored the development of statewide curriculum frameworks and has written to the Board of Education supporting a strong civics component in the social studies framework.

The mission of the League of Women Voters is to inform citizens and encourage their participation in the democratic process, and in pursuit of that mission, we strongly support civic engagement and education throughout grades K-12.  The urgency of this mission was recently underscored by the results of a National Assessment on Educational Progress (NAEP) National Civic Exams which reported:

“Fewer than half of American eighth graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights on the most recent national civics examination, and only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge of the checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches….The scores indicated that only about a quarter of 4th- and 12th-grade students, and about one-fifth of 8th graders, ranked at the proficient or advanced levels.”

LWVMA urges the Massachusetts Legislature to enact S.203 and S.254 so that schools and students in Massachusetts will have the knowledge and skills to truly participate in a constitutional democracy such as ours.  It is imperative that students from grade school into high school and beyond understand our country’s principles and institutions.

Nov. 26 & 29 How Women Become Political Televised

Gloria Steinem at How Women Become Political Boston Globe photo
Gloria Steinem at How Women Become Political
Boston Globe photo
The “How Women Become Political” event that LWVMA partnered with in October will air on C-Span Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 29, at 1:30 p.m.  It’s titled “History of Women in American Politics.”
After it airs, the program will be available online at the C-Span website.   Note the program is on C-Span, not C-Span 2 or C-Span-3.
Enjoy this rousing look at the first woman to speak to a legislature, and the discussion of women in politics that follows with
  • Gloria Steinem, feminist, activist, author
  • Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor at-Large
  • Kerry Healey, President of Babson College and former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor
  • Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Chair with Healey of Political Parity
  • Callie Crossley of WGBH moderated the program



LWV Particpates in Gun Law Action Day Wed, November 6

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which includes LWVMA, held a lobby day at the State House on Wednesday, Nov. 6, starting at 10 a.m.   Attendees reinforced the public’s demand for such legislation, and told their Senators and Representatives that we want meaningful gun safety legislation in Massachusetts.

Click here to see the LWVMA Action Alert with details about the Action Day.

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is a statewide network of groups working together to pass meaningful new gun laws in Massachusetts and nationally. The Coalition expects that proposed legislation will include bringing Massachusetts into compliance with the National Instant Check System for background checks. The

Coalition members also identified four key priorities for any proposed bill:

  • Universal background checks whenever a gun is sold at the time of sale, including all private and internet sales;
  • Extending the suitability standard for licensing to include firearm identification cards;
  • Purchases limited to one gun a month;
  • Improved data collection and sharing on the sources of guns used in crimes.

LWVMA has testified at all five hearings the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held on gun legislation. Lobby day enabled legislators to hear from people in their districts on this topic.

Fall Legislative Season in High Gear at State House

The Massachusetts legislature is back in full swing, and hearings on a huge number of bills are keeping our legislative specialists more than busy.

At the final hearing on gun legislation, LWVMA focused its testimony on guns and domestic violence.  Anne Borg, co-president, spoke of the League’s long-standing support of domestic violence prevention programs and the danger guns pose to victims.  She was joined by Marilyn Ellsworth of the Sudbury League, a volunteer victim’s advocate, who told the story of a Concord woman whose abuser still had his guns and was still a gun dealer, despite seven restraining orders.

Testifying with them were representatives of Jane Doe, Inc., the victims’ advocacy organization, and Emerge, an abuser education program.

The Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security is expected to draft gun legislation and bring it to the floor by mid-November.

Lynn Wolbarst, environmental specialist, and Carole Pelchat, legislative director, represented the League at the joint committee hearing on the updated bottle bill Sept. 17.

Carolyn Lee, good governance specialist, and Nancy Brumback, vice president, program and action, attended and testified at the joint committee hearing on campaign finance reforms Sept. 18.

Other upcoming hearings include:

Oct. 16—Election-related legislation 2 p.m., hearing room A-2, State House. Joint Committee on Election Laws.  Hearing covers a variety of laws, including ones calling for audits of election results.

Nov. 20—Photo ID to vote and other election legislation, 2 p.m., hearing room A-2, State House. Joint Committee on Election Laws. 

If you have a special interest in any of these areas, please consider attending the hearing to lend your support to League specialists who are testifying.  The schedule listed by the legislature is subject to change, so before you go to Beacon Hill, please confirm the date, time and location by going to the legislature’s website.

How Women Become Political Video

Gloria Steinem at How Women Become Political Boston Globe photo
Gloria Steinem at How Women Become Political
Boston Globe photo

If you were not able to attend, you can watch a video presentation by clicking here.

Many League members were in attendance at “How Women Become Political” on October 7, and LWVMA was an organizational partner of the event, but many of you were not able to attend because it sold out early.

The featured speakers included progressive activists Gloria Steinem and Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. They were joined by Swanee Hunt and Kerry Healey, who work together on Political Parity, a nonpartisan effort to unite leaders from both political parties to advance women’s high-level representation nationally. The highlight was their panel discussion, moderated by Callie Crossley, Enjoy!