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President Signs 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act

May 5, 2017 -- President Trump today signed a $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill, called the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bill funds government programs through September 2017.

The following table provides funding levels (column marked "FY 2017 Final") for key programs affecting private school students and teachers, and compares them to actual funding levels in FY 2016 as well as to levels originally proposed by former President Obama in his FY 2017 budget.

Keep in mind that most education programs are “forward funded,” which means the FY 2017 levels will determine funding for programs in the 2017-18 school year.

 

Federal Education Spending Levels (in millions of dollars)
Various Programs Affecting Private Schools
  FY 2016 Enacted Obama Request FY 2017 Final
Title I-A (Grants to LEAs) $14,910 $15,360 $15,460
Title I-C (Migrant Education) $375 $375 $375
Title II-A (Teacher Quality) $2,256 $2,250 $2,056
Title III-A (English Language) $737 $800 $737
Title IV-A (Support Grants) $0 $500 $400
Title IV-B (Learning Centers) $1,167 $1,000 $1,192
Special Ed (IDEA Part B) $11,913 $11,913 $12,003
Career Ed (Perkins Act) $1,118 $1,193 $1,118
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Supreme Court Hears Blaine Amendment Case

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May 1, 2017 - The State of Missouri excluded a preschool program operated by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia from a scrap tire recycling program that would have made its playground surface safer. It did so solely because “the preschool is operated by a church rather than a secular not-for-profit.” The state thus violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by “imposing special disabilities on the basis of religious views” and “forcing a choice” between the exercise of religion and receipt of a government benefit.

That’s as far as David Cortman got in his opening statement to the Supreme Court of the United States in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer before Justice Anthony Kennedy interrupted with the first of an extended series of probing questions by the justices—questions designed to determine exactly where the facts fit within the space between the constitution’s prohibition against the government establishing a religion and its protection of the free exercise thereof.

The outcome of the case could have far-reaching implications for programs of state aid to students in religious schools. It hinges on the state’s Blaine Amendment, which provides that “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion....” During oral arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted there are “39 states with constitutional amendments like the one Missouri has,” so a broad ruling by the court could send shock waves across the nation.

Read more about the case in the May issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Not All Students Exposed to Art and Music Education
  • Arizona Expands ESAs
  • Federal FY 2017 Budget Deal
  • And Much More

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Education Secretary DeVos Meets with CAPE Leaders

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April 3, 2017 - Meeting for the first time with CAPE’s board of directors and representatives of its state affiliates, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reaffirmed her commitment to expanding educational opportunities for children and parents.

“We have to stay focused on what’s right for kids,” said Mrs. DeVos, sounding a recurring theme in her young administration. “If we can keep asking ourselves the question about what is right for individual children, I think we’re going to come to a good and reasonable answer.” 

Read more about the DeVos/CAPE meeting in the April issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • House Education Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx Meets with CAPE
  • Leadership Changes
  • CAPE Grows
  • SCOTUS Rules
  • Trump Visits
  • And Much More

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Trump Calls on Congress to Enact School Choice

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March 1, 2017 - Calling education the “civil rights issue of our time,” President Donald Trump, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, urged lawmakers to “pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.” Families, said the president, “should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.”

The president punctuated his point with the remarkable story of Denisha Merriweather (right), a guest in the gallery, who, the president said, “struggled in school and failed third grade twice,” but then enrolled in a private school with the help of a tax credit scholarship and became “the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college.”

Read more about the the president's proposal in the March issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • New York's Governor Responds to Religious Bigotry
  • DeVos Takes Charge of Education Department
  • Scholarship Student Scores Primo Seat
  • How Students Spend Time at School
  • Trump to Visit Florida Catholic School
  • And Much More

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HELP Committee Confirms DeVos as Education Secretary

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February 1, 2017 -The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee yesterday approved the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, clearing the path for a floor vote by the full Senate.

Prior to the 12-11 partisan vote, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the committee’s chairman, revealed that after questioning her for several hours on January 17 at her confirmation hearing, senators sent Mrs. DeVos roughly 1,400 follow-up questions. He called her “the most questioned education secretary in our history.”

Mrs. DeVos is a strong advocate for the right of parents to choose their child’s school. During her confirmation hearing, she said, “it’s time to shift the debate from what the system thinks is best for kids to what moms and dads want, expect, and deserve.”

Read more about the DeVos hearing in the February issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • School Choice Week Rally at U.S. Capitol
  • New Center for Education Policy
  • Poll Shows Wide Support for School Choice
  • The Stellar Education of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
  • Florida Supreme Court Ruling
  • And Much More

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Parent Satisfaction Highest in Private Schools

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January 3, 2017 -- Private school parents are significantly more satisfied with the schools their children attend than are parents from other sectors, including public charter schools and public district schools. That finding comes from two new studies released by Education Next, a scholarly journal on school reform published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The first study looked at results from a survey, commissioned by Education Next in May and June of 2016, of a nationally representative sample of 1,571 parents with children in school. The second study analyzed results from a survey of over 17,000 families conducted in 2012 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The second study’s larger sample size allowed for a deeper dive into population subgroups.

Read more about both studies in the January issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Foxx in the House
  • Soul Craft
  • No One Way to School
  • Changes at NAIS and AMS
  • National School Choice Week
  • Much More

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Donald Trump Chooses Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary

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December 1, 2016 -- President-elect Donald Trump has named Betsy DeVos as his nominee for education secretary, prompting widespread praise from advocates of school choice and signaling a likely sea change at the U.S. Department of Education.

Mrs. DeVos was chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), one of the nation’s premier promoters of comprehensive school choice, including vouchers, tax credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and charter schools.  During the most recent election cycle, the AFC successfully supported scores of pro-school-choice candidates in primary and general elections across the country.  The map of school choice states has expanded significantly in recent years because of AFC’s efforts, a growth documented in the organization’s annual School Choice Yearbook.

John F. Kirtley, vice chairman of the AFC, expressed the organization’s support for Mrs. DeVos: “For more than 20 years, Betsy has fought relentlessly for the right of every child—especially disadvantaged children—to receive a quality education of their parents’ choice. We are confident Betsy will take the same passion, commitment and leadership she’s shown in the school choice movement to the helm of the U.S. Department of Education.”

Read more about the nomination in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Private Schools See Enrollment Uptick
  • USDE Issues ESSA Equitable Services Guidance
  • Forthcoming Changes at CAPE
  • School Choice Week
  • EdChoice Reports
  • Much More

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Millennials Prefer Private Schools

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November 1, 2016 -- If given the opportunity to select whatever school they could for their child, more millennials would prefer a private school than any other option, according to a national poll released October 11 by EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Asked “If it were your decision and you could select any type of school, and financial costs and transportation were of no concern, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?” 43 percent of millennials said they would select a private school (including independent, parochial, and religious); 28 percent would choose a regular public school; 13 percent, a home school; and 8 percent said they would choose a charter school.

Read more about the poll in the November issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Application Deadline Fast Approaching for 2017 Blue Ribbon Schools Program
  • How Do Private School Students Do in Science?
  • ESSA Private School Guidance Starts to Flow
  • Religious Freedom
  • Outstanding School Leader
  • Much More

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SAT Scores Differ by Type of School

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October 12, 2016 -- Call it a year of transition for the College Board’s SAT assessment. Some graduates of the class of 2016 took the old SAT, which was last administered in January 2016, and some took the new SAT, first administered in March 2016.

The average total score on the old SAT for 2016 graduates was 1484 out of a possible 2400.

However, scores varied significantly by the type of school students attended, with college-bound seniors in religious and independent schools scoring substantially higher than the national average.

Specifically, the average combined score of students in independent schools was 1645, or 161 points above national mean of 1484, while the average for religious school students was 1594, which was 110 points above the mean. Public school students scored 1453, or 31 points shy of the mean. (See CAPE's infographic on the SAT results.)

Read more about the scores in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Mixed Ruling on ESAs in Nevada
  • ESSA Private School Guidance from USDE
  • Blue Ribbon Schools Named
  • Changes at CAPE

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Education Secretary King Announces 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools

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October 4, 2016 -- U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King recently anounced the names of 329 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2016.

Schools were selected either because their test scores in reading and math placed them among the top-performing schools in the nation or state, or because they made notable improvements in closing achievement gaps.

Fifty private schools were among the awardees this year. Each state’s commissioner of education nominates public schools for the award, and CAPE nominates private schools. All winning schools will be honored at an awards ceremony November 7-8 in Washington, DC.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers, King said in a video message to honorees. “Your schools are on the cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices—professional learning communities, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, positive behavior systems—making you shining examples for your communities, your state and the nation.”

As a gauge of the program’s popularity, the U. S. Department of Education reported that on the day the winners were announced, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Web site received over 90,000 page views, with the news triggering “the third most popular social media event in ed.gov history and the second most popular Facebook event.”

 

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