Council for American Private Education

Voice of America's Private Schools

Cape Kids


Private School Enrollment Grows

EagleJune 1, 2016 -- The number of private school students increased from 5.3 million to 5.4 million between 2011-12 and 2013-14, according to a report just released by the National Center for Education Statistics. That change drove the private school share of all U.S. students from 9.6 percent to 9.7 percent.

According to The Condition of Education 2016, “In 2013-14, some 38 percent of all private school students were enrolled in Catholic schools,” which accounted for 2.1 million students. Conservative Christian schools enrolled 707,000 students; other affiliated religious schools, 565,000; unaffiliated religious schools, 758,000, and nonsectarian schools, 1.3 million.

The report included several other eye-catching findings concerning students and teachers in private schools. For example, “A higher percentage of 2009 graduates from private schools (85 percent) had taken courses in algebra II/trigonometry than had graduates from traditional public schools (75 percent), and a higher percentage of graduates from private schools (23 percent) had taken courses in calculus than had graduates from public schools (15 percent).” Private school students also tended to take more science courses, with the report noting that “a higher percentage of private high school graduates (44 percent) had taken at least one credit in biology, chemistry, and physics than had graduates from traditional public schools (29 percent).”

Read more about the new report in the June issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Rights and Responsibilities in Choice Programs
  • Crime and Safety in Schools
  • Proposed Regulations on ESSA
  • Technology and Engineering Literacy Test
  • Meta-Analysis of Vouchers
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Report: School Choice Drives School Improvement

EagleMay 1, 2016 -- What is the state of school choice in the United States and what effect is choice having on American education? Those are just two of the research questions addressed in an ambitious study released last month by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The report, titled Pursuing Innovation: How Can Educational Choice Transform K–12 Education in the U.S.?, starts out by looking at school performance as measured by National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading tests (see the latest NAEP results on p. 4). Over the past 30 years, NAEP scores “have improved only modestly, and then only very recently,” according to the report. But since 1971, “Real, inflation-adjusted spending in the U.S. on K–12 education has increased almost 300 percent.”

Given the massive increase in spending and the near-stagnant student performance, educational productivity in the nation’s schools has declined dramatically. Find out how school choice can improve that productivity in the May issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Education Debit Cards: What’s in Your Wallet?
  • Balancing Freedom, Autonomy, and Accountability
  • James Coleman: North Star
  • New NAEP Math and Reading Results
  • House Approves DC Opportunity Scholarships Reauthorization
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Democratic Maryland Legislature Approves BOOST Program

EagleApril 1, 2016 -- The headline in The Washington Post captured the historic moment: “After 10-year fight, Md. lawmakers vote to fund private-school scholarships.”

The article that followed reported that “over the objections of the state teachers union,” the Democratic-controlled House of Delegates and Senate (collectively known as the General Assembly) approved on March 29 the creation of a $5 million grant program to “provide scholarships to students from poor families.” The program was included in the state’s budget for FY 2017.

“It’s a win-win for not just the people of the state of Maryland, but for all students,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D), as quoted in The Post. “It’s a good compromise.”

Read more about how a solid blue state came to embrace choice in the April issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • South Dakota Enacts Tax-Credit Scholarship Program
  • Carlson-Thies Talks Sex, Religion, and Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Black Hoodie Stands for Status
  • Feds Change Tune on Lunch Program
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Antonin Scalia’s Legacy for Private Education

EagleMarch 1, 2016 -- The death of Justice Antonin Scalia, an extraordinary presence on the U.S. Supreme Court and a dominant force in American jurisprudence, will leave a significant void in the court’s proceedings this year. The glowing tributes from his colleagues on the bench eloquently attest to that.

“He was an extraordinary individual and jurist,” said Chief Justice John Roberts. “His passing is a great loss to the court and the country he so loyally served.”

Justice Elena Kagan predicted, “Nino Scalia will go down in history as one of the most transformational Supreme Court justices of our nation.”

“We were best buddies,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.”

As influential as Scalia’s 282 majority opinions and “occasional” dissents have been to the court’s overall vitality, his ideas, words, and votes have had particular significance over the years on decisions affecting private education. Read about Scalia’s legacy for private education in the March issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Life-Changing Testimony at House Committee Hearing
  • Proposed Child Care Regs Spark Pushback
  • In Memory of Andrew Coulson
  • Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholds Scholarships
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Supreme Court to Consider Blaine Amendment Case


February 1, 2016 -- Does a state violate the U.S. Constitution when it excludes religious institutions from an aid program with an entirely public purpose solely because they are religious?

That’s the fundamental question the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to answer this year when on January 15 it decided to hear the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley.

The state of Missouri administers a grant program that allows eligible entities to purchase playground surfacing materials made of recycled scrap tires. Trinity Lutheran Church applied for a grant, but was denied the award because of the Blaine amendment in the state constitution, which provides that “ money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion....”

The case has huge implications for religious schools because roughly two-thirds of states have similar language in their constitutions.

Find out more about Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley in the February issue of CAPE Outlook

Also in Outlook this month:

  • What Were Elected Officials from Both Parties Celebrating?
  • New York Values
  • Who's Best at Botball?
  • Arizona's Newest Supreme Court Justice
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Every Student Succeeds Act Unpacked


January 4, 2016 -- President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law December 10, culminating years of congressional debate about the proper role of the federal government in setting education policy, and effectively ending the era of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The January issue of CAPE Outlook takes a look at ESSA and its implications for private schools.

Also, CAPE has just released Private Schools and the Every Student Succeeds Act, a free, interactive PDF publication that unpacks the new law for private school officials in considerable detail. (Note: The publication will be updated as needed to reflect emerging guidance and regulations, with the date of the latest version noted at the bottom right of page 2.)

Also in Outlook this month:

  • 2016 Budget Bill Affects Private School Students and Teachers
  • Religious Freedom and Sexual Rights
  • Proposed Regs on Child Care Voucher Program
  • New York City Protects Private School Students
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

President Signs 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act

December 30, 2015 -- Earlier this month (12/18/15), President Obama signed a $1.8 trillion bipartisan spending and tax-cut bill, called the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bill funds most government programs through September 2016.

The following table provides funding levels (column marked "FY 2016 Final") for key programs affecting private school students and teachers, and compares them to actual funding levels in FY 2015 as well as to levels proposed by President Obama.

Keep in mind that most education programs are “forward funded,” which means the FY 2016 levels will not take effect until the 2016-17 school year.


Federal Education Spending Levels (in millions of dollars)
Various Programs Affecting Private Schools
  FY 2015 Final Obama Proposal FY 2016 Final
Career Education (Perkins Act) $1,118 $1,318 $1,118
Community Learning Centers (IV-B) $1,152 $1,152 $1,167
English Language Acquisition (III-A) $737 $773 $737
Math & Science Partnerships (II-B) $153 $203 $153
Special Education (IDEA Part B-611) $11,498 $11,673 $11,913
Migrant Education (I-C) $375 $375 $375
Teacher Quality (II-A) $2,350 $2,350 $2,350
Title I (grants to LEAs) $14,410 $15,410 $14,910
Related Links:

↑ Top of Page

Every Student Succeeds Act Becomes Law


December 10, 2015 -- President Barack Obama this morning signed bipartisan, bicameral legislation to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the nation’s most far-reaching education law. Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted 85-12 to approve the legislation, and last week the House of Representatives passed the measure 359-64.

Named the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new law includes numerous provisions championed by the CAPE community to improve equitable services to private school students and teachers. (Read CAPE's letter of support for those provisions.)

When ESEA was first enacted in the mid-1960s, Congress determined that federal education aid should be directed in an equitable way toward helping all children in need, regardless of the type of school they attend. That principle of equitable services governed the implementation of ESEA from 1965 until its most recent iteration, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), when certain funding formulas and set-asides began to erode equity. The new ESSA corrects those inequities and improves the protection of services for private school children.

For example, under Title I, which provides assistance to school districts to help high-need students do well in school, a school district will now have to calculate funds for services to private school students based on its total Title I allocation, without excluding certain expenditures for other purposes, which it was allowed to do under previous law.

Similarly, under Title II-A, designed to ensure high-quality teaches, a district will have to set aside a proportionate share of funds for services to teachers in private schools based on its total Title II-A allocation and not just on the funds it chooses to earmark for professional development, which it could do before now.

Find out much more about ESSA in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook:

  • In Memory of John Chubb
  • Schooling and Anti-Semitism
  • The Next Ed Department Leader on School Choice
  • Private School Security Guards in NYC
  • Obama's New Voucher Plan for High School Students
  • New Mexico Supreme Court Says No to Textbook Aid
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

In Memory of John E. Chubb, 1954-2015


November 17, 2015 -- John E. Chubb, 61, a renowned education scholar, author, and innovator, who since 2013 has served as president of the National Association of Independent Schools and as a member of CAPE’s board of directors, died November 12 at his home in Avalon, NJ.

In the brief period since John’s untimely passing, numerous glowing tributes, fond remembrances, and heartfelt expressions of grief have been offered, recounting his keen intellect, affable personality, and unyielding propensity to probe, analyze, and improve education. A researcher and reformer at heart, John relentlessly sought data and then used it to cultivate and promote big ideas directed toward changing the status quo.

Over the years, CAPE Outlook has chronicled Chubb’s career. In 1989, the CAPEnotes section reported that President George H.W. Bush had appointed John, then senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as a full-time advisor on education. In 1991, Outlook described Chubb, co-author with Terry Moe of Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools, as “a leading scholar and advocate for choice and education reform” whose “extensive writing and speeches have shown private schools as a model of why choice works.” And in April 2013, just before he joined the CAPE board, Outlook captured Chubb’s talk to the CAPE community about his recent book, The Best Teachers in the World. During that discussion, Chubb touted some advantages of private schools and encouraged their leaders to attract and recruit the very best talent for the classroom. He described education as a “people enterprise” in which talent “is everything.”

During his all too brief tenure on CAPE’s board, John was a fully engaged member from the start, bringing a wealth of knowledge and insight, and encouraging creativity and innovation on a grand scale. At only his second meeting with the group, he led a discussion on why and how members of the CAPE community should collaborate more intently to address issues facing private education, offering an impressive array of projects around which CAPE’s organizations might join forces: collecting data, conducting research, quantifying the positive outcomes of private schools, improving the quality of teachers and administrators, employing technology, marketing private education, and designing schools for the 21st century. John made it clear that NAIS would be interested in partnering with the broader private school community in all of these areas, convinced that a collaborative effort could make the challenges easier and the response more powerful.

Even at what turned out to be his final CAPE board meeting this past September, John continued to advance his visionary model of collaboration by proposing a robust vehicle of unified data collection that each CAPE organization could customize for its own purposes.

Luminaries in the education policy world were quick to mourn John’s passing and to note his numerous accomplishments. Andrew J. Rotherham, co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education Partners, wrote that the “education world lost a powerful intellect,” and recalled Chubb’s influential roles at Stanford University, Brookings, Edison Schools, the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force, Education Sector, and NAIS. Rotherham called Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools “not only the hottest book to come out of Brookings,” but “among the most influential education books of the 20th century.”

Chester R. Finn, Jr., distinguished senior fellow and president emeritus at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, called John “a lively, self-propelled thinker, writer, inventor, entrepreneur, and executive,” who has contributed “more than we ordinarily see from two or three (or four or five) people.”

At the Christensen Institute, Executive Director Michael Horn recalled that the first time he met Chubb he was struck by “John’s grace, magnanimity, and smile. And what a smile it was. Infectious and larger than life.” A member of the NAIS board of trustees, Horn called John “a man of big ideas, action, and a penchant for saying what he thought,” adding that he “never hesitated to prod, poke, and improve his own thinking.” John, said Horn, “didn’t simply visit our world. He left an enduring legacy that will continue to change the lives of students for many years to come.”

In an announcement of John’s death to the independent school community, Katherine Dinh, chair of the NAIS board of trustees, reminded colleagues that John “was passionate about great teaching.” Noting his positions at Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Princeton universities, Dinh said, “His teaching experience instilled in him a great respect and appreciation for the challenge of the work that educators do every day.

On a personal note, this past July, John sent me (Joe McTighe) and my wife, Trish, a touching note of condolence on the passing of my sister Virginia. “My heart goes out to you,” he wrote. “I trust your faith, family, and one another are bringing you peace during these most trying times.” It is with deep sadness that all of us at CAPE now say that our collective heart goes out to John’s wife, Angela, their children, and all family members. We trust your faith, family, and one another are bringing you peace during these most trying times.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Melanoma Research Foundation at 1411 K Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005.

↑ Top of Page

Meet the New Boss; Same as the Old Boss -- Regarding Vouchers


November 13, 2015 -- John King, Jr., tapped by President Barack Obama to be acting Secretary of Education when Arne Duncan steps down later this year, recently reaffirmed the Obama administration’s longstanding position against assistance for parents with children in private schools.

King, who is currently serving as a senior advisor to Duncan and has been delegated the duties of deputy secretary, spoke at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, November 10, at an awards ceremony honoring Blue Ribbon Schools.

During a Q & A session, King responded to a pastor who asked if something could be done to help private school parents who are doubly burdened by tuition and taxes. The full exchange follows.

Pastor: “I'm the pastor of a parochial elementary school, and our parents sacrifice greatly…for this private education while at the same time they support public education through their taxes. And I'm wondering if there's something that could be done to make some allowance for the sacrifices they make -- a partial tax deduction for minor children in private education or something like that that would help them to bear this burden. The costs are just expanding tremendously.”

King: “I appreciate the question; we all struggle with this question. We want to maximize opportunity for every child, but at the same time I think we don't see a long-term solution for a child, as a country, through vouchers, removing dollars away from public education. States are certainly grappling with how to think about this problem. I think many families make the choice to have their child at a private school, and that’s a choice that they’re making, an investment they’re making, but we’ve got to make sure that, as a country, we are investing in our public education system. But I very much respect the choice that parents make about the school that is best for their child, but we have a different responsibility as the U.S. Education Department and as we think about our public education system.”

↑ Top of Page

U.S. Education Department Hosts Private School Leaders


October 2, 2015 -- “Where would America be without private schools?” That provocative question was posed last month during the keynote address at the annual National Private School Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Office of Non-Public Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

The speaker posing the question was Gerard Robinson, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Robinson kicked off his address with a quote from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” His talk centered on the variety of means available to deliver education to all children and the important role of private schools as one of those means.

Find out more about what Dr. Robinson had to say in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook:

  • Students Surpass SAT Average
  • Goodbye, Mr. Speaker
  • Pope Visits Catholic School in East Harlem
  • 2015 Blue Ribbon Schools Named
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Education Secretary Duncan Announces 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools


September 29, 2015 -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of 335 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2015.

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 9-10 in Washington, DC.

“This honor recognizes your students’ accomplishments and the hard work and dedication that went into their success,” Duncan said in a video message to the awardees. “Your journey has taught you collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in school and with your community. You represent excellence—in vision, in implementation, and in results—and we want to learn as much as we can from you.”

↑ Top of Page

Students Exceed SAT Benchmark

AP Data

September 3, 2015 -- Average SAT scores for 2015 graduates from religious and independent schools significantly exceeded the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark, a combined score of 1550 on three SAT tests (critical reading, writing, and mathematics) that is associated with success in college.

For college-bound seniors in independent schools across the nation, the combined average SAT score was 1649 (99 points above the benchmark) while the average for religious school students was 1596 (46 points above the benchmark). Public school students scored 1462, which was 88 points shy of the standard.

In each of the subjects tested, SAT scores for college-bound seniors in religious and independent schools were significantly higher than the national average, actually helping to boost that average. Mean SAT scores for students in public schools were 489 in reading, 475 in writing, and 498 in math, while comparable scores for students in religious schools were 533, 527, and 536. Students in independent schools scored 532, 538, and 579. Among all members of the class of 2015 who took the test, average scores were 495 in reading, 484 in writing, and 511 in math. [Note: Figures in this last sentence are a correction from a table in an earlier version of this article.]

Among SAT class of 2015 students for whom a high school is known, 9 percent attended a religiously affiliated school, 7 percent attended an independent school, and 84 percent attended a public school. That translates into 139,975 students from religious schools, 107,110 from independent schools, and 1,332,096 from public schools. For 119,340 students, the type of high school was “other or unknown.” Overall, roughly 1.7 million students in the class of 2015 took the SAT.

More resources relating to the SAT results for 2015:

↑ Top of Page

Survey Reveals Public’s Preference for Private Schools

AP Data

September 1, 2015 -- If they were given the opportunity to select whatever school they could for their child, more Americans would prefer a private school than any other option, according to a national poll released this summer by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, Inc.

Asked “If it were your decision and you could select any type of school, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?” 41 percent of Americans said they would select a private school; 36 percent chose a regular public school; 12 percent, a charter school; and 9 percent said they would homeschool their child.

The preference for private schools was also reflected in how Americans rated different types of schools. Respondents were asked to give a grade of A through F to the schools in their area. As the report put it: “When examining only those responses giving grades to different school types in their communities, we observed approximately 46% of the national sample gave an A or B to local public schools; 83% graded an A or B to local private/parochial schools; and 63% gave an A or B to charter schools [see graph]. Only 4% of respondents gave a D or F grade to private schools; 14% gave low grades to charter schools; and 10% assigned poor grades to area public schools.”

Find out more about the poll’s fascinating findings in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook:

  • School Choice Expands This Summer
  • Presidential Hopefuls Testify to the Power of Teachers
  • Religious Schools Urged to be Clear and Unapologetic About Mission
  • New Data on School Safety
  • And Much More

↑ Top of Page

Private School Students Take AP Exams at Above-Average Rates

AP Data

June 1, 2015 -- Last month, more than two million high school students endured more than four million Advanced Placement (AP) exams in an effort to get a jump on college credit and demonstrate college readiness.

A lot is riding on those exams. Students who do well can cut college expenses or take upper-level college classes. College credits earned in high school can also pave the way for a double major or a semester overseas. The College Board, which publishes the exams, says students who attain an AP score of 3 or higher not only earn higher GPAs in college than their peers, but are also more likely to actually graduate.

With AP courses serving as one indicator of the extent to which high schools challenge students and prepare them for college, CAPE obtained from the College Board summary data about AP exams and scores for students in private schools who took the tests in 2014.

It turns out that private school students took a disproportionately high number of AP exams and scored higher than average on those exams. What's more, private schools had a greater percentage than public schools of students with scores of 3 or more, and had narrower black/white achievement gaps.

Find out more about AP exams in private schools in the June issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Nevada Legislators Approve the Nation's First Universal Education Savings Account Program
  • NY Governor Cuomo Goes All Out for Parent Choice
  • Tale of Two Boys from Baltimore
  • Feds Look at Parent Satisfaction with Schools
  • Student Coursetaking in Science and Math
  • And Much More...

↑ Top of Page

Education Secretary Meets with CAPE’s Board

Education Secty. Arne Duncan

October 6, 2010 -- Acknowledging a strong personal connection with private education, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met twice with religious and independent school leaders last month—first with CAPE’s board of directors September 21 and then, the following day, with attendees at a private school leadership conference sponsored by the Education Department’s Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE).

“I am a product of a phenomenal private school,” Duncan said at the ONPE event. “And a big reason why I went into education is that I knew every day growing up how lucky my sister and brother and I were to go to an extraordinary school.”

Striking a similar theme at the CAPE meeting, the secretary said he had “tremendous respect” for the schools that CAPE represents--schools that collectively do “an extraordinary job of educating children around the country.”

For more on this story, download the October issue of CAPE Outlook . Receive Outlook free of charge each month.

Subscribe to Outlook


↑ Top of Page