Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for December 2019

Focus is the monthly newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties.

What you need to know about the Student Success Act

Six Oregon educational leaders will participate in a December 4 panel discussion about the likely impact of Oregon's 2019 Student Success Act, the landmark legislation that will deliver $1 billion annually to elevate graduation rates, improve reading levels and attendance, enhance early-childhood education, and support such programs as career programs and meals for low-income students.

The panel, organized by Chris Vogel, Policy Coordinator for Education for the League of Women Voters of Oregon, will be held on Wednesday, December 4, from 6 p.m to 7:30 p.m. at Roth's Event Center, 1130 Wallace Rd. NW, in West Salem. The public is invited to the free event.

The six panelists will be:

Scott Nine, Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Education Innovation and Improvement

Sara Mickelson, Chief of Staff for the Early Learning Division

Darin Drill, Superintendent, Cascade School District

Jennifer Kubista, Superintendent, Central School District

Kraig Sproles, Assistant Superintendent of Salem Keizer School District

Roth's Event Center is on the second floor of Roth's Market, elevator available, reached by the entrance located at the rear of the store. Please use the rear parking lot. Follow the LWV signs to the room.

The December 4 event is the third in a series on education sponsored by the the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties. The League was founded in 1920 to educate women voters; its purpose expanded to reach all voters.

Panelists for the program on "What you need to know about the Student Success Act"

Scott Nine joined the Oregon Department of Education from the National Public Education Support Fund, a federal-level philanthropic education nonprofit organization with a mission to promote the opportunity for all children to receive an excellent education from birth through college and career. He has spent almost two decades organizing, writing, speaking, and learning about what it takes to foster equity for students and remodel public education systems. He has been a middle school teacher and has a master's degree in social work from Arizona State University.

Sara Michelson has a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MA from Brown. She has led policy and budget design for the biggest expansion of early care and education programming in Oregon's history, the Student Success Act, doubling the agency's ECE budget. She has also designed preschool policy to ensure an aligned preschool system across three state-funded programs operationalized by the enactment of House Bill 2025 in 2019 and collaborated with colleagues to write Oregon's first cross-sector early learning strategic plan, Raise Up Oregon.

Darin Drill has a Bachelor's degree from Western Oregon University and a Doctorate of Law from the Law School of Willamette University. He served as the Director of Secondary Education at North Clackamas School District and has been the Superintendent for the Cascade School District for 12 years.

Dr. Jennifer Kubista is the current Superintendent at Central School District 13J, which covers Independence and Monmouth, OR. She is a graduate of Gonzaga University (BBA), University of Connecticut (MA.Ed), and Seattle University (Ed.D). She was recognized as an Emerging Leader (2014) and Influence Leader (2017) through the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). She has a passion for volleyball and continues to coach high level Division I volleyball officials. She leads through continuous learning, relationships, equity, accountability, and collaborative processes focused on the development of the whole child.

Kraig Sproles is an Assistant Superintendent in the Salem-Keizer Public School district. He has been an Oregon educator and administrator for over 20 years, serving most recently as the Principal at South Shore Elementary in Albany, Oregon. Kraig began his educational career as a science and math teacher at Alice Ott Middle School in the David Douglas School District in Portland, Oregon, and has been a Principal at three different elementary schools during his career. For the bulk of his career he has worked in Title IA schools with large populations of English language learners. He recently completed his doctorate from the University of Oregon with a dissertation that focused on creating flourishing school communities that positively impact students and teachers.

Christine Vogel is the Policy Coordinator for Education with the League of Women Voters of Oregon Legislative Action Team. In 2013 Chris co-chaired an LWVOR study on the many changes being implemented in early learning within the state of Oregon. In 2015 she joined the League's state lobby team to follow draft legislation impacting at-risk children, early learning and education. For the past five years she has networked with coalitions to advocate for improved funding and services for Oregon's youth, students in Oregon schools, and the network of services that support them.

alem Visioning--Another opportunity on Dec. 11

If you live in Salem and were unable to attend the Nov. 21 meeting on Salem Visioning, Roz Shirack has invited Leagues members to hear Eunice Kim give a presentation at the SCAN neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, December 11. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., and Ms. Kim's presentation will start around 7 p.m. SCAN meets at the South Salem High School, 1910 Church St. SE, in the library, so there is plenty of room for members of the public.

Results from the October public workshops have been posted to the City's Our Salem project website at League members look at that website to see results and to give their own input by clicking on the Online Workshop link.

Salem Speaks Up!

Implicit Bias and Fake News

Four LWVMPC members attended the LWVOR Fall Workshop in Eugene on October 19; they were Cindy Burgess, Kathleen Clark, Patty Davenport, and Sally Hollemon. Following are highlights of the presentations on bias and fake news. The following two articles are from Sally's notes.

IMPLICIT BIAS--THREATS TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION Erik Girvan Erik J. Girvan, JD, PhD in Social Psychology--Mr. Girvan is an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon School of Law, where he teaches courses in civil litigation, the psychology and law of discrimination, and the psychology of conflict. His research investigates how stereotypes, attitudes, and other biases might impact decisions in the legal system and related contexts (e.g., arbitration and mediation, school discipline). He also explores, develops, and empirically tests practical ways to reduce or eliminate those effects.

Prof. Girvan said that we all use heuristics or mental shortcuts. For example, there are many varieties of dogs, but we easily identify any of them as a dog. When we think of risk in travel, we may think that flying is dangerous because, although plane crashes are rare, they get a lot of publicity when they happen, unlike when much more frequent car crashes happen.

Broader experiences, more knowledge, diverse interpretations and diverse approaches to solving problems all help one make better decisions. Therefore, we should welcome people into the League who have different perspectives. This is difficult to do (we feel more comfortable with people who agree with us) and conflict can occur. When we meet someone who disagrees with something we care about, we assume that the person has less information than we do, so we share our information. If they don't agree with us then, we tend to think they can be disregarded. But we fail to hold ourselves accountable for our own biases.

Decision-making processes should be inclusive and transparent. People should perceive that the procedures for making decisions are fair. Those procedures should involve:

● Active listening: Acknowledge the person, ask questions to clarify, empathize, and (most important) summarize back what the person said.
● Give a speaker time and space to make her points
● Be aware of body language (yours and the other person's)

Fake News and Propaganda

Donna CohenDonna Cohen--A former teacher and librarian, since 2016 Ms. Cohen presents non-partisan civics workshops in Oregon and Washington that fill in gaps in civic and political understanding and encourage critical thinking and increased civic engagement. Information about her workshops may be found on her website at

Fake news--Ms. Cohen said that democracy requires critical thinkers. Information without source is just an opinion. Fake news is false information. Unfortunately, journalism and opinion are often mixed, especially on the internet. So check for subjective words. Look at the website's url (web address). Is it the company's real url or are there extra letters? Check the logo; is it real or slightly off? Look at the bottom of a questionable article to see if there is a notation that "This is a satyrical website."

If you see a story online that has dramatic information about an important issue, check to see if the same story is reported on other websites that you know are reputable. Check questionable information on a fact-checking website, such as,, And don't forward a website unless you first check to be sure you aren't passing on false information.

Deep fakes are a new problem. Facial Reenactment Real-time facial reenactment is a technology in which an actor speaks and the mouth of a famous person on TV appears to say the words the actor spoke. This technique can make it appear that a famous person said something he never said.

Propaganda is intended to influence. Aspects of propaganda are

● Simplicity--It includes only a few points.
● Repetition--When a lie is repeated over and over, some people will believe it.
● Emotion--especially to invoke fear.
● Doubt--makes people question a fact.
Example: Smoking--Cigarette makers didn't have to prove that smoking is harmful. Doubt about its harm was enough to keep addicted people smoking.

Political ads can legally lie to voters (based on the 1st Amendment). The Bipartisan Ads Act before Congress would provide some limits:

● No foreign money could be used to buy political ads.
● Rules for online ads would be modeled after the rules for political ads on TV and radio.
● The source of an ad must be identified.

Political statements (as with ads in general) should be looked at carefully. What information is missing? For example: "Liberty Mutual customizes your insurance." (All insurance companies do this.)

Terminology matters. Estate tax, inheritance tax, and death tax all refer to the same tax. Other examples of terminology used to influence belief are: regulation = protection and chain migration = family-based migration.

When polls are cited, try to find out how the questions were phrased because that can influence the responses. For example, one poll offered two options. A few people insisted on answering that they didn't have enough information to choose an option, so the poll results were shown with 3% undecided. However, when researchers went back to other respondents, (To Page 6) they discovered that a majority of them were actually undecided but hadn't been given the option to say so.

Logical fallacies are statements that don't make sense but are intended to divert attention. Example: Pres. Trump tweeted: "I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia,... yet Obama can make a deal with Iran."

Correlation is not the same as causation. Family Circus cartoon →

A list of websites compiled by Donna Cohen with additional information on how to spot misinformation is at

Common Scams


Phishing attacks--Don't open an email attachment if you're not sure who it's from. If it purports to be from someone you know, look at the email address; is it the right address? Check the grammar in the message; scams from foreign countries usually reveal that English isn't their first language.

Imposter scams--If you receive an email or phone call purporting to be from a government official, family member or friend asking you to wire money, verify whether or not the situation is real.

"You've won" scams--You receive an email stating you've won a prize, the lottery or a sweepstakes and you're asked to pay a fee or tax for the prize or there's a request for your credit card or bank account information.

Healthcare scams--Calls, emails or letters that promise big savings on your health insurance. Cyber criminals will usually request your Medicare or health insurance information, social security number or financial information.

Tech support scams--If someone claiming to be with a technology company contacts you to diagnose a computer problem--help which you didn't request--stop! If you receive an unexpected pop-up or spam email about an urgent problem with your computer, stop! Scammers are likely using a nonexistent problem to obtain remote access to your computer or banking information.

Identity theft--Signs that you may be a victim of identity theft:

● bills for products or services you never purchased
● unauthorized withdrawals from your bank
● unauthorized charges on your credit card statements
● new credit card accounts in your name for which you didn't apply
● a decrease in the amount of mail or bills you receive
(This is an indication that your address has been changed so your mail and/or bills are going elsewhere.)
● being rejected or denied credit
Don't ignore any of these suspicious signals; report them immediately. The longer you wait, the more time-consuming, costly and exhausting it can be to rectify the situation.

Oregon Votes by Mail

A video on the history of Oregon's Vote-by-Mail system produced by CCTV and including LWV Voter Service cochair Kathleen West as a panel member can be viewed at


READ the initiative petition and then consider the following before signing it:
Is it TOO COMPLEX? - Some decisions may be simple yes or no votes. Other decisions will affect many areas of government. Make sure you understand the implications and consequences if this petition becomes law.

Is it CLEAR? Some proposals aren't well-written. They may have conflicts requiring court interpretations or resolutions.

If the initiative is a constitutional measure, does it BELONG in the Constitution? Is it a fundamental law that should be protected? Changes or mistakes would require another (costly) election to amend the Oregon Constitution.

Is it an "unfunded mandate?" Would the Legislature need to pull funds from other essential programs? Initiatives should generally not earmark, restrict, or obligate specific General Fund revenue percentages.

Before you sign, ask to see ID. Paid gatherers must carry photo ID issued by the Secretary of State. If they don't have the required ID, you can reasonably wonder why. Numerous instances of fraud could have been avoided by insisting on seeing ID.

Like LWVMPC on Facebook!

Barbara Sellers-Young, Publicity Chair

Thanks to Kathleen Mason we were able to get our Facebook page up.

See LWVMPC page

If you click on "like" it, you'll receive notices from Facebook that will keep you updated on League events and related activities.

League Lingo

Program -- It all starts with the several steps of Program:
  • Program Planning + members submit ideas of governmental issues that different levels of League (national, state or local) should consider for study.
  • Program Adoption - Selected governmental issues are chosen by the membership at local, state and national levels for study and member agreement in the upcoming year/biennium at Conventions or Annual Meetings. Those governmental issues that League members choose for concerted study usually lead to a new position and potential action/advocacy. 
  • Programs - Forums or other meetings with speakers or discussion or other activities which may be based on League Positions or on issues the League members want to learn about.

Position -- statement of policy

To most in the public policy world, "taking a position" on something means that the organization or person actively supports or opposes a particular piece of legislation.  

To the League, a Position is the statement of governmental policy based on member research, study and agreement. A Position is approved by the appropriate board (national, state or local) once study and member agreement is complete. Positions that have been approved are written up in Impact on Issues (national), Issues for Action (state) and on our local League website <> under Position Statements. Synopses of national, state and local Positions are in our LWVMPC membership directory.

League Positions do not support or oppose any particular piece of legislation. They are statements of general principles against which specific legislation or ballot measure can be measured to determine whether or not the League can support or oppose it.

Action -- Positions form the basis for League Action/Advocacy 

The boards of the respective Leagues use the previously approved Position statements to determine support or opposition to a specific piece of legislation or to influence governmental decisions by supporting policies, budgets, comprehensive plans and initiatives or referenda. League leaders may also use public forums or other means to develop public support for League goals.

Who can speak for the League?

The president at each level of the League is the official spokesperson, although she/he can authorize others to speak for the League.  

League members are encouraged to contact their legislators and speak for themselves; applicable personal experience is especially valuable in showing legislators how proposed legislation would affect people's lives.

LWV Mission Statement Explained

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League carries out its mission in two ways:

1) Education of voters with unbiased, factual information on issues and candidates appearing on a ballot, so citizens can cast an informed vote; and

2) Advocacy for public policy issues only after members have studied each issue and reached a consensus position.

The League never supports or opposes any political candidate or political party, and any use of the League of Women Voters name in campaign advertising or literature has not been authorized by the League.