Council for American Private Education

Voice of America's Private Schools

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Military Families Support School Choice


November 1, 2017 -- America’s military servicemembers are strong supporters of school choice.

A report published last month by EdChoice found that military households that were given a description of various school choice programs were far more likely to support such programs than oppose them. Seventy-two percent of respondents supported education savings accounts (ESAs), 64 percent supported school vouchers, and 63 percent supported tax-credit scholarships (TCSs). Only 15 percent of military households opposed ESAs, while only 27 percent opposed vouchers, and 23 percent TCSs.

The report found the “magnitude and intensity” of military support for choice programs “surprising” and suggestive of “military parents’ strong desire for better access to school choice options.”

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

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Enrollment Projections to 2025
  • Security Grants in New York State
  • Choice Video Contest
  • CAPE Executive Director Search
  • And Much More

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Big Blue Illinois Enacts School Choice Legislation


October 2, 2017 -- School choice advocates across the country have been collectively celebrating landmark scholarship tax credit legislation that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed August 31. (Photo: Office of the Governor)

Although 17 other states have similar programs, this was the school choice movement’s “first victory in a big and overwhelmingly Democratic state,” according to Scott Jensen, senior government affairs advisor for the American Federation for Children (AFC). “Hopefully, this victory for children in the big blue state of Illinois, will encourage other large Democratic states to embrace school choice,” he added.

The Illinois program provides tax credits to individuals and corporations that donate to organizations that award scholarships to students to attend private schools. The tax credits will be worth 75 percent of the donation’s value, so a $1,000 donation will yield a tax savings of $750. Up to $75 million in tax credits will be issued each year, translating into $100 million in scholarships. The legislation allows individual donors to direct their contributions to particular types of schools or even a particular school, but prohibits corporate donors from doing so.

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

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Millennials Support Vouchers
  • Education Department Sponsor Private School Leader Conference
  • Secretary DeVos Visits Private Schools
  • Blue Ribbon Schools Named

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Blue Ribbon Schools Named


September 28, 2017 -- U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today recognized public and private schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2017.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” said Secretary DeVos to the honorees. “You are visionaries, innovators and leaders. You have much to teach us: some of you personalize student learning, others engage parents and communities in the work and life of your local schools and still others develop strong and forward-thinking leaders from among your teaching staff.”

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 (see list here). 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 6-7 in Washington, DC.

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Gallup Poll: Americans Give High Marks to Private Schools


September 1, 2017 -- Americans rate private schools significantly higher than other types of schools, according to a Gallup poll conducted early last month and released August 21.

The survey of 1,017 U.S. adults aged 18 and older found that 71 percent of participants regarded independent private schools as excellent or good, while 63 percent gave the same rating to parochial or church-related schools. Charter schools received excellent or good ratings from 55 percent of American adults; home schools from 46 percent, and public schools from 44 percent.

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

Also in Outlook this month:

  • National Private School Enrollment Jumps 7 Percent
  • Illinois Enacts Tax Credit Scholarship Program
  • Supreme Court OKs Aid to Religious Schools
  • Should All Schools Serve Everyone?
  • What Teens Want From Their Schools
  • School Choice Myths Debunked
  • And Much More

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Supreme Court Disallows Discrimination Against Religious School in Playground Program


June 26, 2017 -- The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 that the state of Missouri violated the U.S. Constitution when it excluded a preschool sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia from a grant program providing playground resurfacing materials. 

“[T]he exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution,” said the court.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court, except as to footnote 3, which limited the scope of the ruling. Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Kagan joined the opinion in full, while Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined except as to footnote 3.  Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.  Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Ginsburg joined. 

Read the full ruling here.

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Secretary DeVos Promotes Parent Choice


June 1, 2017 -- Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sounded a clarion call for parent choice in education at the annual national policy summit of the American Federation for Children, an organization she once headed.

“The time has expired for reform,” she told the 400 attendees in Indianapolis on May 22. “We need a transformation—a transformation that will open up America’s closed and antiquated education system.”

Mrs. DeVos said President Trump was proposing “the most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history,” and the next day, the country got its first detailed look at that proposal: a three-sector approach advancing school choice in traditional public schools, public charter schools, and private schools (see related story).

Read more about the proposal in the June issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Proposed Federal Budget Would Affect Private School Students
  • DC OSP Reauthorized
  • Green Ribbon Schools Named
  • Presidential Scholars Named
  • And Much More

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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


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


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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