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Tar Heel News



 Vol. 50, No. 1
"Speak to the Mission"
Winter 2003



Tar Heel News

W03 issue
 Front page
 Public Policy


Public Policy: On-going Vigilance, Action Needed

Dot Busey
AAUW NC Public Policy Chair, Federal Issues

DNA Justice

On October 8, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation titled the "Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act," (H.R. 3214/S. 1700). This will expand protections for women under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bill is expected to go to the floor of the House for a vote before Congress adjourns.

AAUW believes that DNA technology is essential to closing many gaps within our legal system.

Head Start's Integrity Threatened

In July, the U.S. House passed legislation that, if approved by the Senate and signed by the President, would allow religious organizations involved to hire and fire Head Start teachers as well as restrict involvement of parents volunteers abased on their religion.

Also, H.R. 221 would let up to eight states receive block grants thereby eliminating federal accountability standards.


On the Web:
http://www.aauw. org/takeaction/policyissues

Call the White House!
202 456-6342 (tape response)

Call Representatives in Congress!
202 224-3121

From the AAUW Public Policy web site.

Angela Colaiuta, AAUW Field Director
September 16, 2003

Judicial Nominees and Vouchers

Mr. Pickering's Nomination Heats Up
In March of 2002, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected the nomination of Mississippi District Court Judge Charles W. Pickering to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana). In January of this year, Mr. Pickering was renominated by President Bush. Mr. Pickering could be considered again by the Senate this month. AAUW opposes confirmation of Judge Pickering to the Fifth Circuit because Mr. Pickering's record demonstrates that he is not committed to the protection of reproductive and civil rights.

Status of nomination at Tar Heel News presstime: Defeated in committee 3/14/02; Renominated 1/7/03; Voted out of Committee 10/02/2003; Pending Senate floor vote.

Call both senators and urge them to support ALL efforts to block a vote on the confirmation of Charles Pickering to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121 and then ask for the office of Senator Dole and Senator Edwards.

Further Information:
Alliance for Justice clearinghouse on judicialnominees found at:

Score Another victory for AAUW!

Miguel Estrada, President Bush's nominee for a lifetime appointment to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, withdrew his nomination from further consideration today. As you may remember, on July 30th the Senate rejected a seventh attempt to approve his nomination, falling five votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate.
AAUW opposed Mr. Estrada's nomination because his interpretation of the law and current legal precedent suggested he might find it difficult to enforce critical constitutional and statutory rights in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties, worker's rights, and consumer rights. Further, Mr. Estrada also refused to release important documents that were important to the evaluation of his impartiality and judicial temperament.
The failure of Mr. Estrada's nomination is an important victory in our work to preserve a fa! ir and independent judiciary and the efforts of AAUW members were instrumental in this success. Again, congratulations for a job well done!
Further Information: AAUW's position paper on judicial nominees can be found at: http://www.aauw.org/takeaction/policyissues/judicial.cfm
A copy of President Bush's statement withdrawing Estrada from Senate consideration can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030904-2.html

Vouchers Update and New Action

As you may know, last Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill by a slim vote of 209-208. The amendment, offered by Rep. Tom Davis (D-VA), would authorize $10 million public dollars for private school vouchers. Now the battle turns to the Senate, where even former voucher opponents are beginning to waiver. We have heard rumors that the measure could be on the Senate floor as early as this Friday.

AAUW believes a strong, free, public education system is a fundamental right, and that public funds should be used to improve only public education.

ACTION: Call both your Senators and urge them to oppose vouchers and any amendments authorizing public funds for private schools in the District of Columbia. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121.

Talking points: D.C. Vouchers Are Not Just About Washington D.C. This program would use federal funds (your tax dollars) to implement a voucher program in D.C. and establish a federal structure that could be expanded to become a national school voucher program. Furthermore, private schools would not be required to disclose how they
spend these federal tax dollars.

Further Information: AAUW fact sheet on school vouchers can be found at

No Child Left Behind

Mary Peterson, AAUW NC program vice-president and former public policy chair for federal issues, points to the following articles which emphasize the need for AAUW NC members to stay informed about the problems which have been created or exacerbated by the "No Child Left Behind" law.
The first, In "No Child Left Behind," a Problem With the Math, in The New York Times, October 1, Michael Winerip notes the disparity between applications for transfers to non-failing schools and the actual number of openings. Educators tell horror stories of the unprecedented overcrowding resulting from the arbitrary system the law has created.

On August 31, also in The New York Times, Sam Dillon tells how Cuts Put Schools and Law to the Test. In the nation's 90,000 schools, from New York to California, Alabama to Oklahoma, from Florida to Connecticut, the economy, closing schools, cut-backs on personnel, and other factors are making compliance with the law that is supposed to fix schools impossible.

For those wishing to learn more about the situation in North Carolina, Paula Wolf, director, Covenant with North Carolina's Children, reports regularly at http://www.nccovenant.org/covenant/BillStatus_2003.htm.

Coalitions Provide Punch For Empowerment of Women

The following are digests of messages posted by our coalition partners in N.C. Women United. Please follow the links for more information. Thanks to Nancy Shoemaker for posting this to the AAUW NC listserv.

N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault:

Please ask the North Carolina Congressional Delegation for their support in securing funding for VOCA [Victims of Crime Act] at the level of $675 million approved by the U.S. Senate. More information:
http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/sfvo/voca_main.html or http://www.nccasa.org

From the Women's Forum and Peace College

The new NC Center for Women in Public Service will be conducting Saturday workshops to prepare women to serve in elected or appointed public office. Workshops were/are scheduled for
Oct. 11 Gastonia, Comfort Suites
Nov. 8 Asheboro, N.C. Zoological Park
Jan. 24 New Bern, Riverfront Convention Center
Feb. 21 Asheville, Owen Conference Center, UNC Asheville
More info: http://ncwu.ontero.net/home/Calendar/nccwps/index.html

From NC Alliance for Economic Justice:

  • The Economic Justice Program Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches has just completed a new publication called Job Loss: A Guidebook for Pastors. This 40-page manual is aimed at members of the clergy but can be used by ANYONE who is working with people facing job loss, including social workers, grassroots and community activists, church leaders, and others concerned about workers in our state. More info:
  • The Third Wave Foundation offers Scholarships and Grants Available for Organizing and Advocacy, Reproductive Rights work. These programs target work that targets, benefits, and is devised and led by women between the ages of 15 and 30.

Democracy N.C. and the League of Women Voters of N.C.

"Organizing 101" workshops were held in: Boone, Asheville, and Murphy during September and October.

General NCWU issues:

  • The NCWU calendar http://ncwu.ontero.net/home/Calendar/index.html has space for more (nonpartisan) information on the upcoming local elections. If you have prepared a voter guide-particularly if it is available online- please send either the web address or contact info for those who would like copies of the guide to Nancy Shoemaker, shoemaker@acm.org
  • NCWU is compiling a report card on the actions of the N.C. Legislature with respect to the goals of NCWU and the issues of the 03-05 Women's Agenda. If you have comments or information on particular pieces of legislation or budget items affecting women and their families, send it to




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