Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.


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Thursday, July 5, 2012

AAUW Washington Update


Because so many high-profile and newsworthy events have occurred this week, we’ve decided to send AAUW Washington Update to all of our Action Network subscribers! Washington Update, a once-weekly digest of all the women’s issues news that’s fit to print, is ordinarily an AAUW member-only service.

If you’re already an AAUW member, sign up to receive Washington Update. If you’re not yet an AAUW member, consider joining to become part of our powerful community breaking through barriers for women and girls!

Enjoy this week’s email, and consider joining AAUW and signing up for Washington Update!

Note to our regular Washington Update subscribers: There will not be a Washington Update next week due to the Independence Day holiday.

Washington Update for Friday, June 29, 2012

NEWS
Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
AAUW Rallies for an Inclusive VAWA
AARP Study Finds Age Discrimination in Workplace
New Laws Could Make Mississippi First State without Abortion Clinic
Federal Workforce More Male, Ethnically Diverse than Overall Workforce
Minority Students with STEM Majors Earn More
Pell Grant Turns 40

IT’S MY VOTE: I WILL BE HEARD – VOTER EDUCATION AND ELECTIONS NEWS
Florida Judge Gives Go-Ahead for Voter Purge

LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY UPDATES
Congress Prevents Student Loan Interest Rates from Doubling
Labor Department Awards $1.8 Million for Women’s Apprenticeship Programs
New Gainful Employment Data Shows Weaknesses in Standards
Department of Education Extends More NCLB Waivers

RESOURCES FOR ADVOCATES
Feature Your Activities on the AAUW Member Showcase
Sign Up Your Friends and Family for Action Network!

UNIQUELY AAUW
Connect2AAUW
AAUW Public Policy Fund Pins — and a Bonus

NEWS

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
In a complex 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, finding that its requirement for nearly all Americans to secure insurance is permissible under Congress’ taxing authority. This decision allows the Affordable Care Act to stand, although it did limit one significant portion of the law, which sought to expand Medicaid to cover millions more poor and disabled people. The program is a joint federal-state effort, and the court said the law’s requirement that states rapidly extend coverage to new beneficiaries or lose existing federal payments was unconstitutional.

AAUW believes that everyone is entitled to health care that is high-quality, affordable, and easily accessible. AAUW believes that, although not perfect by any stretch, many of the reforms included in the Affordable Care Act will improve the collective health of the American people, such as access to preventive health services. As implementation of the law continues, AAUW will focus on the need for access and affordability in a way that is equitable to women.

AAUW will publish further analysis of what this decision means for women and girls in the AAUW Dialog blog next week. Check back often for more information on policy and current events!

AAUW Rallies for an Inclusive VAWA
AAUW joined a coalition of organizations on Capitol Hill Wednesday to rally for the passage of an inclusive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. The rally kicked off a national VAWA Days of Action campaign. In May, the House of Representatives passed a version of VAWA that excluded campus safety provisions as well as language that protects Native American; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; and immigrant victims.

AAUW supports a VAWA reauthorization that addresses the needs of all victims nationwide. AAUW urges Congress to pass the Senate version of the bill, which includes campus safety provisions and protections for all victims of violence and was introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

AARP Study Finds Age Discrimination in Workplace
AARP recently found, through national and statewide surveys, that older voters are concerned about workplace age discrimination. More than one-third of respondents reported that they know someone who has experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and eight in 10 agreed that it is important for Congress to protect workers against age discrimination.


AAUW advocates for equitable access and advancement in employment, including vigorous enforcement of employment antidiscrimination statutes.

New Laws Could Make Mississippi First State without Abortion Clinic
Although abortion will still be legal in Mississippi, laws going into effect on July 1 could mean that the state will become the first in the United States without any dedicated abortion clinics. The new regulations, passed in April, require that abortion-clinic physicians have admitting privileges at a local hospital; doctors at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the state’s remaining clinic that provides elective abortions — have applied to seven area hospitals but have not yet been granted those privileges. This would have the effect of severely limiting Mississippi women’s access to reproductive health care services.

AAUW supports the right of every woman to safe, accessible, affordable, and comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services. AAUW trusts that every woman has the ability to make her own informed choices regarding her reproductive life within the dictates of her own moral and religious beliefs. Further, AAUW believes that these deeply personal decisions should be made without governmental interference.

Federal Workforce More Male, Ethnically Diverse than Overall Workforce
A new government report comparing the composition of the federal workforce to the overall American workforce found that the federal workforce includes more men and greater racial diversity. Between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of male employees in the federal workforce increased by 0.3 percent, and the percentage of white employees fell by 0.3 percent. The report also includes plans for government programs to promote the recruitment, hiring, and retention of diverse employees.

AAUW supports efforts to diversify the federal government workplace. AAUW supports affirmative action programs that establish equal opportunity for women and minorities and improve gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in educational institutions and in workplaces. AAUW believes these programs have begun to break down the barriers that confront women and minorities in education and employment, and these programs remain essential to ensure equal access to all professions at all levels through recruitment, outreach, and training.


Minority Students with STEM Majors Earn More
A new study analyzing the salaries of minority students indicates that those majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) earn 25 percent more than those majoring in the humanities or education. Minority students who pursued STEM careers following graduation were shown to earn 50 percent more than humanities or education majors.

Last week, AAUW welcomed Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut in space. Jemison spoke on two panels about the importance of encouraging women and minorities to pursue STEM education. AAUW has prioritized women and girls in STEM education for more than 130 years and encourages women to pursue traditionally male-dominated STEM fields by investing in graduatefellowships and grants, conducting research, and through programming and advocacy for women in STEM.

Pell Grant Turns 40
June 23 marked the 40th anniversary of the Pell grant program, an indispensable part of millions of students’ dreams of higher education in the United States. The program, which was originally known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant and later renamed for Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI), has helped bridge the gap between the demand for educated workers and the student financial aid that is essential for many low-income Americans to attend college. In an effort to cut the federal deficit, severalchanges to the Pell grant program will begin to take effect in July. These changes will reduce the number of students who are eligible for the tuition assistance program as well as the amount of money they can receive.

AAUW strongly supports the Pell grant program. Today, the maximum Pell grant covers only 33 percent of the total cost at a public four-year institution, versus 55 percent of those costs 20 years ago. AAUW believes that cuts to educational funding make the dream of higher education less accessible for women and minorities.

IT’S MY VOTE: I WILL BE HEARD – VOTER EDUCATION AND ELECTIONS NEWS

Florida Judge Gives Go-Ahead for Voter Purge
A federal judge in Florida has rejected a request by the Department of Justice to stop the state’s purge of noncitizens from voter registration rolls, which was set in motion earlier this spring. Judge Robert Hinkle previously ruled against parts of the Florida law that regulate voter registration by outside groups, and in his decision Thursday said that federal voter registration laws could not prohibit the state from identifying and removing ineligible voters even though its primary is fewer than 90 days away.


LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY UPDATES

Congress Prevents Student Loan Interest Rates from Doubling
Congress cleared a bill this afternoon that will prevent interest rates on Stafford loans from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on Sunday. The compromise legislation was sent to the president’s desk just in time for the July 1 deadline. The fix to student loan interest rates was included in a larger, must-pass package with provisions to reauthorize federal transportation programs.

AAUW applauds Congress for passing legislation that will save millions of students money as they struggle to afford higher education. Without the hard work of AAUW’s Action Network, this provision would have never made it over the finish line. Thousands of students weighed in on the importance of Stafford loans to their access to college. Thank you for your activism!

Labor Department Awards $1.8 Million for Women’s Apprenticeship Programs
The U.S. Department of Labor awarded $1.8 million through Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grants. The grants will help fund programs for the recruitment, hiring, training, employment, and retention of women in apprenticeships in nontraditional fields, including industrial professions, manufacturing, transportation and construction. The grants were awarded to community-based organizations in six states, each working to prepare and train at least 50 participants annually for success in traditionally male fields.

AAUW supports improving women’s access to traditionally male fields. AAUW strongly advocates for enforcement of Title IX, which has facilitated an increase in women’s advancement in nontraditional fields and occupational programs. Title IX helped remove barriers to women entering these fields, as well as encouraged incentive programs to help recruit and retain more women.

New Gainful Employment Data Shows Weaknesses in Standards
Newly released federal gainful employment data show that regulations put in place in 2011 haveimposed low requirements that mean many vocational programs will not lose Title IV eligibility despite serious problems. The new regulations were intended to appease concerns about the difficulty of students paying back their federal financial aid following the completion of vocational programs, but analysis of the data suggests the need for a more effective, systematic approach in order for programs and institutions to improve student outcomes.

AAUW strongly supports the Department of Education's commitment to making higher education affordable and accessible for all Americans. To ensure that higher education is an engine for workforce training and productivity, we must help students find affordable programs that lead to economically secure careers. In 2011, AAUW urged members of the Senate to support the Department of Education’s regulations to define “gainful employment” to protect students from schools that may take advantage of their need for financial assistance and overcharge and to also hold schools accountable for meeting the standard of gainful employment.

Department of Education Extends More NCLB Waivers
Five additional states have been granted waivers from the most restrictive portions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) from the Department of Education. Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia received waivers. A total of 24 states have thus far received waivers.

AAUW maintains that the only way to fix No Child Left Behind/the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is through reauthorization. Read AAUW’s congressional testimony that outlines many of the problems we see with the current law. AAUW encourages the Obama administration to hold those seeking and receiving waivers accountable for the success of all students by requiring additional efforts to close achievement gaps and demonstrating in detail how they will prepare our children for college and rewarding careers as a condition of these waivers. AAUW believes that it is incumbent on the states seeking waivers to assure the public that this flexibility is necessary to improve student achievement. In no way should the administration agree to waive the requirement that states, districts, and schools demonstrate continued progress toward improving student academic achievement.


RESOURCES FOR ADVOCATES

Feature Your Activities on the AAUW Member Showcase
Want to share your latest program with others or get ideas for an upcoming event? Check out AAUW’sMember Showcase! The Member Showcase is a great way to let other AAUW members know what your branch or state is up to. From book sales to Equal Pay Day events, and discussion groups to garden tours, the Member Showcase is here as a resource for you!

To publicize your events, email aauwcalendar@aauw.org, or for more information, read the Member Showcase FAQ.

Sign Up Your Friends and Family for Action Network!
Visit AAUW’s Take Action page of our website, where AAUW members and nonmembers alike cansign up for Action Network. It is an excellent way to introduce potential members to AAUW’s advocacy. You can also print out flyers online. Use flyers to sign up friends, family and coworkers to AAUW Action Network. These flyers are great to use at branch events, community events, etc.

UNIQUELY AAUW

Connect2AAUW
General AAUW questions? Please contact connect@aauw.org or call 800/326-2289 between 10 am and 5 pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.

AAUW Public Policy Fund Pins — and a Bonus
Show your support for advocacy for women and girls — and get a tax deduction. Contribute $100 or more to the AAUW Public Policy Fund and receive the fund's annual pin. Please support this crucial work with a tax-deductible contribution through our secure website.





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