CAPE | Council for American Private Education

Council for American Private Education

Public Policy

In keeping with its mission to provide a coherent voice for private education, CAPE periodically develops issue papers to help inform lawmakers, policymakers, and the general public about public policy issues of concern to the private school community. Issue papers are approved by CAPE’s Board, which consists of the CEOs of the member organizations, a representative of the state CAPE organizations, and various at-large members. CAPE member organizations represent about 80 percent of K-12 private school enrollment nationwide.

You can let your representatives in Congress know where you stand on various public policy issues, by using CAPE’s Legislative Action Center. Just click the button below.

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CAPE Issue Paper

Early Childhood Development

The experiences of early childhood serve as the foundation for a child’s life. Whether at home or in early childhood centers, a child’s formative experiences shape a sense of self, establish a view of the world, and set the stage for a lifetime of learning. Ideally, those experiences help develop a whole person who is loving, capable, confident, inquisitive, happy, and responsible.

There is no single combination of activities, lessons, and methods best suited for all children in all circumstances. It is the responsibility and right of parents, the child’s primary educators, to rely on love, instinct, values, and observation to determine the setting and style of early instruction that meets their children’s needs.

Parents have the high calling and duty to decide how their children will be educated. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 60th anniversary we celebrate this year, makes explicit what is known by nature: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Government should never insist that all children receive the same education in government-run institutions. Instead, public policy should support the right of parents—the people who love the child most and know the child best—to direct the child’s formative years.

For those parents and guardians who seek to supplement the education they offer at home, a variety of quality early childhood settings exist, including programs that conform to a particular theory of child development, those that provide a particular pedagogy, and those rooted in a particular religious tradition. Some early childhood centers are operated by the government, and some are operated by faith-based and other independent providers. In a free society, it is essential that parents be able to choose from an array of options. Without options, there is no choice; and without choice, there is no freedom.

To uphold freedom of choice in early childhood education, the Council for American Private Education offers the following principles:

  • Formal early childhood education should be voluntary.
  • Legislation promoting early childhood education should support the right of parents to choose from a range of programs, including explicitly religious programs, without financial penalty. Faith-based providers and those reflecting a particular pedagogy should be able to retain the distinctive and essential elements of their programs.
  • Programs designed to assist children and teachers should provide benefits to comparably situated children and teachers, whether in independent or government-run settings.
  • Early childhood education regulations should not seek program uniformity; they should promote pluralism that allows institutions to fulfill their unique missions and parents to choose from a variety of truly distinctive options.

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: March 2014

Related Links:

Download CAPE's Early Childhood issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

ESEA Reauthorization

Objective

To secure improvements in the equitable distribution of services to private school students and teachers in certain programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as reauthorized in 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Rationale

The reauthorization of ESEA is a major education priority for the 112th Congress. Many provisions within ESEA have a direct impact on students and teachers in private schools, and some of those provisions go back as far as the mid-1960s, when Congress determined that federal education aid should be directed toward helping children in need, regardless of the type of school they attend. However, certain inequities have developed in recent years that have seriously disadvantaged students and teachers in religious and independent schools.

CAPE believes that federal programs that benefit public school students and teachers should provide equitable benefits to comparably situated private school students and teachers. Such equity is mandated in much of federal education law. It is based not only on a commitment to fairness, but also on the practical recognition that America’s children are educated in a variety of schools and that the nation is best served when all its children are well-educated. In keeping with this rationale and to address the inequities that have developed, CAPE supports the following proposals.

Action

Priority Issues for Ensuring Equitable Services:

  1. Require that all funds generated by the count of private school students be clearly set aside for the benefit of such students and be spent for the benefit of such students.  Allocations to benefit private school students should be determined before any “off the top” reservations are made for purposes that do not include such students and should not be dependent on how a state or school district elects to use ESEA funds under its waiver authority.
  2. Include in consultation requirements an examination of options for directing administrative and program funds set aside for the private school community through a public administrative agency or a third-party contractor who would be responsible for administering programs provided through ESEA to private school students and teachers.
  3. Require that equitable participation requirements for State Grants for Teacher Quality under Title II-A be determined on the basis of the full allocation of the grant, rather than only on the portion spent on professional development activities by the LEA.

Funding Equitable Services

  1. Calculate at the state level all funds earmarked for services to students and teachers in private schools and indicate to the LEA separate allocations for services for both private and public school teachers and students.
  2. Require school districts to expend in a timely manner funds generated by private school students for services to such students during the school year for which the funds have been appropriated.  If funds are not expended during the appropriate school year, require school districts to expend any remaining funds for services to private school students at the start of the subsequent school year in addition to any new allocations.
  3. Require school districts to provide private school officials the option to transfer or not transfer funds to benefit private school students and teachers under either Title VI or the waiver authority.

Establishing Equitable Services

  1. Provide for the participation of private school students and teachers in any combined or newly proposed formula or competitive grant programs as well as in existing programs that are not currently available to them.
  2. Establish a new section of ESEA that consolidates all provisions relating to services to private school students and teachers or, as an alternative, include applicable private school provisions relating to the equitable participation of private school students currently found in Title I within each of the appropriate Titles.
  3. Allow participants in the Troops-to-Teachers program to teach in private schools.
  4. Amend Section 1120(a)(1) to clarify that special education services provided to eligible students in private schools include, singly or in any combination, instructional services, counseling, mentoring, and tutoring. The school district would be required to provide these services and benefits at the school’s request in order to best address the needs of participating children.

Consulting About Establishing Equitable Services

  1. Require school districts to secure written affirmations from private school officials that timely and meaningful consultation has taken place in connection with all programs serving private school students and teachers. Provide a section on the written affirmation for private school officials to indicate that timely and meaningful consultation has not occurred, in order that the SEA might be informed about the process and results.
  2. Require school districts that disagree with private school officials over any issues involved in the consultation process to provide in writing the reason why the LEA has chosen a different course of action.
  3. Include among the topics of required consultation the issue of pooling funds generated by private school students for the purposes of improving services to students and teachers. Require that school districts honor the request by private school officials to pool funds.
  4. Establish that the goal of consultation be to reach agreement between school district officials and private school officials on the various issues identified in the law as required topics for consultation.
  5. Require states to include in their consolidated grant applications from school districts adequate and specific assurances that timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials has taken place.

Safeguarding Equitable Services

  1. Streamline the bypass provision and the complaint process and shorten the bypass/complaint implementation timeline.
  2. Establish a threshold for “substantial failure,” as used in Section 9502(a), based on a fixed number or percentage of eligible students in private schools within a district who should be served but are not, that would automatically require the delivery of services (e.g., through a bypass or an alternative method).
  3. Require each state education agency to identify a private school ombudsman to advocate for private schools and to monitor and enforce requirements regarding private school participation in federal education programs.

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: March 2013

Related Links

Download CAPE's ESA Reauthorization issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

HEA Reauthorization

Objective

To secure the equitable participation of private elementary and secondary school students and teachers in programs contained within the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Rationale

The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is a major education priority of the 109th Congress.  Many provisions within HEA have a direct impact on programs at the elementary and secondary levels.   CAPE believes that federal higher education programs that benefit public school students and teachers should provide equitable benefits to comparably situated private school students and teachers.  Such equity is mandated in much of federal education law.  It is based not only on a commitment to fairness, but also on the practical recognition that America’s children are educated in a variety of schools and that the nation is best served when all its children are well-educated.

Action 

Specifically, CAPE supports the following proposals.

  • All federal financial aid programs, including loan-forgiveness and scholarship programs, should apply alike to educators in public and private schools.
  • If additional high-need instructional or geographic areas are identified for accelerated loan forgiveness programs, these new provisions should cover public and private school educators.
  • The Teacher Quality Partnership grants program under the Higher Education Act (20 USC 1022a) should allow scholarship recipients to complete their service requirements in high-need public or private schools.
  • Special teacher scholarships should be established to encourage teachers to become qualified in those subject areas where the need for expert teachers is especially critical.
  • Teacher training programs at universities receiving federal funds should allow and recognize practice teaching in private as well as public schools.
  • College financial aid officers (FAOs) should be required to consider a family’s elementary and secondary school tuition obligations as a “special circumstance” in determining a family’s need for college financial aid.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be amended to reflect this requirement.

We support the above proposals, which would expand educational opportunities for students and educators in private schools and would help ensure that they receive equitable treatment under this important federal program.

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: March 2014

Related Links:

Download CAPE's HEA issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

School Accreditation

Preamble

All religious and independent schools have a responsibility to provide their students with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to succeed in life and to contribute to the common good. Schools employ a variety of means to demonstrate, both to the families and communities that support them and to the public at large, that they live up to that responsibility. Many schools use accreditation to review and evaluate all aspects of their institutions, to identify successes as well as areas for improvement, and to remain accountable to parents and the public.

There exists in the private school world a wide variety of accrediting bodies that evaluate according to rigorous standards and methods. Accrediting bodies review every relevant aspect of a school’s operation, ensure that the school community undergoes a process of intensive self-study and self-evaluation, and assigns experts to assess performance against prescribed standards. Accreditation is an authoritative, rigorous, and comprehensive process that respects a school’s mission and nature, measuring the institution’s success and progress (or lack thereof) in actually achieving its stated goals.

Significant changes have taken place that could have consequences for the accreditation of many private schools. Almost all states, strongly encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education, are moving toward common curriculum standards along with aligned assessments. The movement in the direction of unified national standards, national tests, and national accreditation has raised concerns within the private school community, alarmed about the movement’s potential impact on diminishing the distinctive nature and autonomy of religious and independent schools.

In a pluralistic society with many answers to the question, What are the proper goals of education? a single system of schooling cannot possibly meet everyone’s needs. Our country is blessed by a rich diversity of schools—some rooted in a particular religious perspective and some reflecting a particular pedagogy, philosophy, or approach to child development. There are all sorts of schools in America that do not neatly fit into a single mold. A one-size-fits-all approach to education is as antithetical to American principles as it is to the unique development of each human being.

In the United States, educational pluralism is cherished, and the right of parents to choose the kind of education their children receive is protected. Private schools contribute to the diversity that is one of the most distinctive and prized aspects of American culture. For example, religious schools look to develop moral, theological, and spiritual characteristics that may elude assessment tools and accreditation procedures designed primarily for public schools. Other private schools may adopt instructional content, delivery methods, and assessment approaches that support each school’s particular mission and educational goals, and may be very different from those found in public schools.

The right of parents to choose an education for their children consistent with their beliefs and values should never be compromised through an attempt to standardize schooling. Nationalized standards, testing, and accreditation must not be allowed to erode the role of private education as a healthy alternative to government schools. The rich and diverse landscape of educational variety in the United States was a key element in the original establishment of this democratic republic; it continues to be a key contributor to the leadership in the free world that the United States enjoys.

Principles

With a goal of preserving pluralism in accreditation and diversity in education, CAPE embraces the following principles:

  • Varied philosophies, theologies, and pedagogies distinguish private schools. Therefore, it is essential that when a school seeks validation and improvement through accreditation, it be able to select from a range of accrediting bodies that reflect a variety of rigorous standards and procedures for accreditation. The school community is best suited to make a determination about which accreditation process best reflects its mission and culture.
  • Accreditation for a system of schools or an individual school should respect and incorporate the unique identity and purpose of a school by including standards and indicators that reflect the school’s particular mission and culture.
  • Mandatory government institutional assessments and procedures present a serious threat to the independence and diversity of private education. States should recognize multiple accrediting bodies, providing schools with a choice in accreditation philosophies and protocols.
  • The focus for any accrediting agency should be ensuring school improvement and student growth. An effective accreditation process must include peer-review, self-study, and a comprehensive and thorough examination of all the indicators of a quality school, including a rich pedagogical/cultural life and sound business practices.
  • Accreditation should examine, affirm, and improve a school’s culture, including the extent to which the school fosters a caring and supportive environment, promotes parental involvement, and develops values, ethical motives, basic beliefs, respect, integrity, enthusiasm for learning, and authenticity among its students.

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: March 2010

Related Links

Download CAPE's School Accreditation issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

Principles Relating to School Choice Legislation

Introduction

The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) is a broad-based national organization representing private schools. In its vision statement, CAPE recognizes that America’s children have greater opportunities because of access to an array of high-quality schools.  CAPE’s mission is to preserve and promote educational pluralism so that parents have a choice in the schooling of their children.  In keeping with its vision and mission, CAPE offers the following principles to guide school choice legislation at the state and federal levels.

Choice initiatives have taken various forms, including government vouchers for parents, tax credits/deductions for parents, and tax credits/deductions for corporate or individual contributors to programs that award scholarships.  Because any one of these approaches might be best in a given situation, these principles are intended to apply to all of them.

General Principles

  • Funds relating to school choice should flow through parents rather than directly to schools.
  • School choice initiatives should not in any way infringe upon the existing right of private schools to control the hiring of staff.
  • School choice programs should safeguard the right of private schools to control the instructional program and curriculum, and should not add restrictions or regulations in this regard beyond what may already exist in state law.
  • School choice programs should allow schools to retain their admission policies.
  • Test scores should never be allowed to become a sole or dominant indicator of achievement or failure.

Level and Distribution of Benefits

  • Benefits to families should be substantial enough to allow families to select from a variety of schools.
  • Benefits should vary with family financial need to ensure that families with the greatest need receive the greatest benefit.
  • Families with children already in private schools should be eligible for benefits.

Responsibilities of Participating Schools

  • Participating schools should comply with federal, state, and local requirements that currently apply to private schools, including those relating to civil rights, nondiscrimination, background checks for employees, and student health and safety.  However, choice legislation should not give rise to additional regulation of private schools.

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: March 2006

Related Links:

Download CAPE's school choice principles (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

Title V

Objective

To restore funding for Title V, Part A, of the No Child Left Behind Act to its fiscal 2004 level of $296 million.

Rationale

Title V is an important and widely used program that serves students in private and public schools.  It provides materials, equipment, and services to meet student needs, as those needs are identified by local administrators.  In one school the program might provide remediation in reading and math; in another it might be used to purchase library books, and in another, to train teachers to use instructional technology.  The bulk of the benefits go to public schools, but as much as 11 percent of funds are available for services to children in private schools, a reflection of their portion of the school-age population.

The innovative programs funded under Title V, while determined at the local level, are required to be part of an overall reform strategy tied to promoting academic achievement standards and to improving student performance (20 USC 7215(b)).  Numerous accountability provisions are built into the program and are reflected in the application that local educational agencies must submit to states. 

To determine the effectiveness and value of Title V, CAPE invited private schools to participate in a survey based on the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART), which was developed by the Office of Management and Budget and is used by the Department of Education to determine program effectiveness and allocations.  The survey report provides overwhelming evidence that Title V funds are targeted in an efficient and effective way to address specific needs.  Moreover, projects funded by Title V have performance measures that focus on outcomes, and regularly meet their performance goals.

Within the private school community, Title V is the most popular of all federal education programs, and it enjoys a long history of support, in part because it provides for the equitable participation of private school students based on their share of a district’s enrollment. The program’s origins go back to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), when it was known as Title II. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program in Mitchell v. Helms, a landmark case in church-state jurisprudence.

But despite Title V’s popularity and its long and distinguished history as a staple of federal education law, Congress last year cut funding by one-third from $296 million to $200 million.  (Fortunately, an energetic and extensive grassroots campaign by various public school and private school organizations helped reverse the decision by Senate and House appropriators to eliminate the program entirely.)  For fiscal 2006, President Bush has proposed to cut the program further to $100 million.  In a program that provides local educators with much-needed flexibility, a cut of this magnitude would adversely affect the quality of education that students are provided.  It is essential that Congress restore funding for Title V to fiscal 2004 levels in order to repair the damage done by last year’s cuts

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: June 2005

Related Links:

Download CAPE's Title V issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

Educational Accountability

CAPE believes that all educational institutions have a responsibility to provide their students with the knowledge, skills, values, ethics, and social commitment they will need to succeed, to be good citizens, and to be positive forces in a dynamically changing society and global environment.

Ultimately, each private school is most immediately accountable to its students’ families, and to its graduates—one by one. Private education is based on choice. Families choose private schools for their children, and parents will always be judges of whether a school meets the needs of their children. All private schools are also to some degree dependent on generous, voluntary support from graduates, families, and others who are pleased with these schools.

Other forces also shape a private school’s destiny. The performance of private schools is continually assessed by their governors and sponsors. These overseers have an ongoing duty to evaluate outcomes and make their decisions based in large part on each school’s performance.

Many private schools voluntarily participate in an accrediting process as a way of accounting to the school’s own public as well as the larger community. Accrediting bodies conduct extensive site-based reviews of every aspect of a private school’s operations and program, measuring and certifying that it meets prescribed standards.

Some states, in varying degrees, are also involved in some forms of accountability. The U.S. Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 [1925]) limited the state’s authority to “standardize its children” by forcing them to submit to only one kind of instruction, because “the child is not the mere creature of the state.” While guarding the liberty of parents to “direct the education and upbringing of children,” the state has a legitimate responsibility to ensure that students are educated in safe environments that promote democratic values. Private schools comply with applicable statutes and regulations. But in carrying out its regulatory role, government must not impose on private schools rules “so pervasive and all-encompassing” that compliance would “effectively eradicate the distinction” between public and private schools and thereby deny parents their capacity to guide their children’s education (Ohio v. Whisner, 351 N.E.2d 750, 768 [1976]).

At a time when test scores are seen by some as the ultimate measure of attainment, the accountability of private schools for student achievement, teacher quality, and school success cannot be addressed by standardized testing alone or any single scale of measurement. While students in private schools routinely take standardized tests as one tool for assessing achievement, and while other forms of periodic assessment also have their place as well, CAPE believes that test scores should never be allowed to become a sole or dominant indicator of achievement or failure. Educational accountability requires a much broader, long-term assessment of outcomes. These must include the family’s educational goals for its children, how students do at the next level(s) of schooling, accomplishment in life, and evidence of productive good citizenship.

An accumulation of accountability mechanisms—not any single one—combines to assure the public that private schools will provide the resources and vision needed to help every enrolled student succeed. Within such an environment of accountability, private schools pursue their mission, and survive or fail on the merit of their performance. CAPE supports policies and initiatives that will preserve and enhance this environment of accountability—so that private schools remain good for students, good for families and good for America.

Approved by CAPE’s Board of Directors: March 2004

(Modified from a statement approved March 1, 2003, by the National Association of Independent Schools.)

Related Links:

Download CAPES's accountability issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

Reauthorization of IDEA

Objective

To secure equitable services for parentally placed private school students in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Rationale

Although IDEA provides significant assistance to public school children in need of special education, it has never provided the same scope and quality of services to children in private schools. Currently, no individual child in a private school is entitled to any services under IDEA, and collectively, children with special needs in private schools receive funding for only a small portion of the special education services available to their public school counterparts.

When Congress reauthorized IDEA in 1997, it required a given school district to provide to children with special needs in private schools only those services that could be purchased by a proportionate share of the federal funds available to the district under the statute. Thus, if 10 percent of students with disabilities in a school district are enrolled in private schools, the district must only set aside 10 percent of its IDEA funds to serve those children. And since IDEA funds cover only a small share of the total cost of special education services to begin with, the net effect is that children with special needs in religious and independent schools receive only a fraction of the services they would otherwise receive.

Since IDEA does not provide any particular private school child the right to special education services, the proportionate spending rule applies to private school students as a whole. As a result, public school officials must ration the scarce resources available for private school students. They choose which, if any, students will be served, which disabilities will be addressed, and whether any direct services will be provided.

Action

To address the inequity faced by children in private schools, Congress should amend IDEA as follows:

Services

  • Incorporate innovative approaches that would ensure equitable services to eligible individual private school students.
  • Require on-site services for children in private schools.
  • Require districts to provide each private school child identified as having a disability with services or with a certificate for services.
  • Strengthen the current child-find language to identify and evaluate eligible children in private schools and to include the use and payment of private evaluators.
  • Require districts to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each private school child identified as having a disability.
  • Require districts to consider a child's cultural and linguistic background in determining appropriate IDEA services.

Funding

  • Increase significantly the federal share of funds for IDEA. (A significant increase in federal IDEA support from current levels would help districts meet the needs of all students with disabilities and would ensure a more equitable level of service and participation for students in private schools.)
  • Document consultation on the method and data used to determine the proportionate share of IDEA funds for services to students in private schools.
  • Require districts to spend the full proportionate share of IDEA funds on students in private schools, regardless of any separate state and local funds used to serve those children.
  • Change the law so there is no fiscal disincentive for school districts to serve children in private schools.

Accountability

  • Strengthen the provisions relating to timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials regarding the design and implementation of services to children in private schools.
  • Strengthen the bypass language to provide a recourse to students whose LEAs do not provide equitable services.
  • Require districts to report annually on all private school children located, referred, identified, evaluated, and served.
  • Provide for equitable due process procedures for parents of eligible students in public, private, and religious schools.
  • Require federal monitors who evaluate the implementation of IDEA programs to include representatives of private and religious schools in this process.
  • Require the full disclosure of the number of private school students identified, the number served, and the dollars expended on those services.

The reauthorization of IDEA provides Congress a unique opportunity to recraft an act that will truly provide enhanced opportunities for special education students. The above proposals would go a long way toward realizing the equity that IDEA has always sought.

Approved by CAPE's Board of Directors: December 2002

Related Links

Download CAPE's IDEA issue paper (PDF)

Visit CAPE’s IDEA Update page to find out the status of the reauthorization and CAPE’s analysis of the legislation. Download CAPE’s free IDEA Toolkit, developed to help parents, private school officials, and public school officials understand the provisions of the IDEA that relate to children with disabilities who have been placed by their parents in private schools.

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CAPE Issue Paper

School Choice

Objective:

To provide parents with financial assistance to allow them to exercise fully their right to choose their child's school—religious, private, or public.

Rationale:

Private schools, by definition, help fulfill the ideal of pluralism in American education. America's first schools were private schools established in the early 17th century. Today, one in four of the nation's elementary and secondary schools is a private school; eleven percent of all K-12 students attend them. These schools are continuing to flourish and are identified by strong statements of mission and purpose. They are religious and secular, large and small, urban and rural. They serve diverse populations, and are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. Almost all vest the school's principal with the authority and the ability to implement change. Faculty, parents, and, when appropriate, students, are actively engaged in the decision-making process. A sense of common community and common goals and an emphasis on values pervade these schools. The goals of private schools include academic excellence, meeting the needs of individual students and families, and a concern about the social, moral, spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual development of each child.

As the nation continues to focus on education reform, private schools provide significant models of success. They are ultimately accountable to the parents who choose them. In 1925, the landmark Supreme Court decision Pierce v. Society of Sisters guaranteed the right of existence to nonpublic schools and therefore the right of parents to choose a school which reflects their values. The Council for American Private Education affirms this right and further urges enactment of national and state legislation that will provide all parents the opportunity to exercise fully their right to choose their child's school—religious, private, or public.

Approved by CAPE's Board of Directors: October 1990 Modified: March 1997

Related Links

Download CAPE's school choice issue paper (PDF)

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CAPE Issue Paper

Teacher Shortage

Every elementary and secondary school in the United States is facing a threat that could undermine the quality education of all children. The U. S. Department of Education projects that the nation's schools will need 3 million new teachers by 2008. The New York Times noted (7 January 2000) that the shortage of qualified teachers has led to a competition for teachers that creates problems for all schools and drives up the costs of education across the country. Public and private schools work together to educate the country's children. The challenge of the growing teacher shortage threatens the whole education community. The welfare of all our children calls for federal policies to attract new teachers into the profession in a way that benefits all students.

Addressing the problem

The shortage of teachers hurts all of our schools. It increases the job stress of teachers and administrators alike. It leads to increased turnover of staff, undermines curriculum quality, and hinders efforts at staff development. Having to hunt for teachers to fill their classrooms drives up the administrative costs to schools and reduces the funds available for the classroom. Most of all, the shortage of qualified teachers hurts our children by forcing too many students into too few classrooms, reducing the amount of time that teachers can spend helping individual students.

The shortage of teachers hurts children regardless of the type of school they attend, public or private. It spans the breadth of education in the United States and threatens to deprive the children of all races and social classes, in rural, urban, and suburban communities, of the quality education they will need to meet the challenges of the future.

In view of this pending crisis, the Council for American Private Education believes that addressing the growing shortage of quality teachers must become one of our nation's highest public policy priorities. We call on all members of Congress and the Administration to come together in a bipartisan effort to craft policies that promote more vigorously the recruitment, retention, and development of quality teachers for all our children regardless of the type of school they attend.

Teacher benefits are child benefits

Federal education policy has long recognized that children are the ultimate beneficiaries of the help given to teachers. Teachers move back and forth between public and private schools during the course of their careers, bringing their knowledge and experience to all students. As a result of the national commitment to improving the education of all children, various provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act that are designed to promote improvement in teacher quality already include teachers from all types of schools. Innovative solutions such as the Teacher Next Door program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development help teachers from urban public and private schools alike to purchase affordable housing in the communities where they serve. This program recognizes that extending the participation and influence of teachers in the community benefits the whole community regardless of the type of school in which the teacher serves. Future federal programs to encourage and promote teaching as a profession should likewise be constructed to benefit the teacher as an educator and not to benefit the school as an institution, in order to avoid inappropriate institutional regulation. Only this approach can guarantee the equitable participation of all teachers in a way that meets the distinctive needs of teachers in all circumstances, ensuring that the benefits of quality teachers will extend to all students.

Policies to help recruit and retain quality teachers

Members of all political parties understand that promoting a quality education is one of the best contributions that they can make to the future of our nation. The Council for American Private Education strongly recommends that members of Congress and the Administration work together to develop innovative new policies and expand some existing programs to promote the recruitment, retention, and development of quality teachers. Our recommendations include the following:

  • Expand current student loan forgiveness programs (i.e., the Stafford and Perkins programs for teachers in low-income public or private schools) to allow for loan forgiveness for all teachers. Teachers in schools serving high-need communities should be forgiven loans at an accelerated pace.
  • Establish special teacher scholarships to encourage teachers to become qualified in those subject areas where the need for expert teachers is especially critical.
  • Provide special tax incentives (e.g. tuition tax credits or special tax credits for teachers) for those entering the teaching profession.
  • Increase the number of visas available to teachers recruited from abroad.
  • Broaden the current Teacher Next Door program to include additional communities and create other housing incentives for teachers.

Promoting equitable participation for all teachers

In addition to ensuring the equitable participation of all teachers in the initiatives discussed above, the Council for American Private Education also recommends the following modifications to programs which currently only benefit some teachers, so that all teachers can benefit from them:

  • The Troops-To-Teachers program and other future initiatives designed to train and place mid-career professionals in schools should allow for placement of candidates in private as well as public schools.
  • The teacher scholarship program under Title II (Section 204) of the Higher Education Act should be expanded to include the equitable participation of teachers serving in private schools.
  • Universities receiving federal funds should be required to allow and to recognize practice teaching in private as well as public schools.
  • Congress should streamline the conflicting standards and regulations governing the participation of private and religious school teachers in federally-funded professional development programs to produce one clear set of standards that ensures the equitable participation of all teachers.
  • Federal competitive grant programs that provide continuing education funds should be open to eligible applicants from public and private colleges, universities, and professional organizations, as well as public school LEAs and SEAs.

Conclusion

The Council for American Private Education strongly recommends that the Congress and the Administration work together to propose and enact federal legislation that addresses the critical shortage of quality teachers for all our nation's schools and that respects the autonomy and independence of private schools. Only inclusive and nondiscriminatory solutions that provide for the equitable participation of all teachers, whether they teach in public or private schools, will prove to be a sound investment in our nation's future and will improve the education of all our children.

Approved by CAPE's Board of Directors: March 2000

Related Links:

Download CAPE's teacher shortage issue paper (PDF)

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