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Ahl-ways an advocate for schools

POULSBO — North Kitsap School Board President Catherine Ahl may be focusing on local district issues these days but it’s her work in fighting against a statewide initiative that’s earned her acclaim from the Washington Education Association (WEA).

Ahl received the 2005 WEA Sen. Al Bauer Friend of Education Award from the state’s education union for her involvements on the school board, the state’s League of Women Voters, and most notably, her fight against Referendum 55 in 2004 that would have established charter schools in the state.

The six-year North Kitsap School Board member also worked to defeat two other initiatives that would have established charter schools in 1996 and 2000.

She said her work against the off-shoot schools, which establish a charter from local school boards and use public funds but are not held to some of the same rules as regular public schools, has to do with a basic belief.

“The League (of Women Voters) is big supporter for representative democracy,” she said. “Charter schools would have been run by a board that is chosen by a non-profit corporation rather than one elected by the voters. The league has always felt that takes away voters’ rights.”

The WEA agreed and awarded Ahl for her efforts.

The union flew Ahl and her husband to Spokane May 14 for the award ceremony. She was presented with a proclamation, two dozen roses, a plate and she also gave a speech.

Even without the award, Ahl said she feels strongly in her cause against charters and said she’d do it all again.

“You do things because you believe in them,” Ahl said. “(Recognition) is the icing on the cake.

“I’m just a basic advocate for public education,” she added, “And I didn’t see charter schools providing that.”

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