February 2020 | Number 452
Photo by Melanie Benit, Institute for Justice
Supreme Court Considers Historic Blaine Amendment Case; Amicus Signed by CAPE is Mentioned
On January 22, the nation's highest court heard a challenge to Montana's " Blaine Amendment " in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue , a case with national implications.

As described by the Institute for Justice (IJ), "T he case was accepted by the High Court after the Montana Supreme Court struck down that state’s new scholarship tax-credit program in 2018 under its state constitution solely because some of the children receiving scholarships attend religious schools."

While there is no way to predict how the Court will rule , a Wall Street Journal story covering the oral arguments said, " The Supreme Court appeared ready Wednesday to reinstate a Montana program providing state aid to religious schools, after arguments in which conservative justices cited anti-Catholic sentiment in the 19th century that led many states to bar public support for sectarian education." Private school advocates are hoping for that and more, as a broad ruling could strike down Blaine amendments nationwide. However, Chief Justice Roberts has developed a reputation for favoring less sweeping rulings that are able to assemble larger majorities of justices.

Of note: during the proceedings, Justice Kavanaugh made reference to the amicus brief signed by CAPE in September 2019.

A decision should be announced by the end of June.
President Addresses School Choice at State of the Union Address
President Donald Trump spoke to the issue of educational choice during his State of the Union Address on February 4. He said :

The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools. To rescue these students, 18 states have created school choice in the form of Opportunity Scholarships. The programs are so popular that tens of thousands of students remain on a waiting list.

One of those students is Janiyah Davis, a fourth grader from Philadelphia. Janiyah. Janiyah’s mom, Stephanie, is a single parent. She would do anything to give her daughter a better future. But last year, that future was put further out of reach when Pennsylvania’s governor vetoed legislation to expand school choice to 50,000 children.

Janiyah and Stephanie are in the Gallery. Stephanie, thank you so much for being here with your beautiful daughter. Thank you very much. But, Janiyah, I have some good news for you, because I am pleased to inform you that your long wait is over. I can proudly announce tonight that an Opportunity Scholarship has become available, it’s going to you, and you will soon be heading to the school of your choice. 

Now I call on Congress to give one million American children the same opportunity Janiyah has just received. Pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act — because no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.
Michigan Supreme Court Punts on Important Reimbursement Case
The Michigan Supreme Court notified contending parties February 5 that it will not hear oral arguments on a high profile case involving private schools until the United States Supreme Court has rendered a verdict on the aforementioned Espinoza case.

Michigan's high court was scheduled to consider whether it is constitutional for the state to reimburse private schools for state-imposed health and safety mandates. The case has drawn national attention in part because the Michigan Constitution has the strictest Blaine Amendment prohibition on public support for private education in the country. The order postponing the Michigan case highlights the high stakes nature of the Espinoza case, saying "the decision in that case may resolve an issue raised in the present case."

Reading the tea leaves, it is unclear whether this is a promising development. On one hand, many expect a positive decision from the US Supreme Court on Espinoza , which would presumably help (or at least not hurt) matters in the Michigan case. On the other hand, a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court thought to be sympathetic to the constitutionality of reimbursements to private schools issued a strongly worded dissent against the postponement. Stay tuned...
Vice President Visits Wisconsin to Recognize National School Choice Week
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a National School Choice Week rally in the Wisconsin State Capitol on January 28, saying, "I’m here in Wisconsin because this is where it all began." The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was established in 1990 and is widely considered the nation's first school choice program. The program was eventually expanded statewide, and today more than 40,000 students make use of it to attend schools of their choice. The Vice President was joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Earlier that week, the White House issued a presidential proclamation recognizing National School Choice Week.
NY Governor Announces Funding for Security at Religious Schools
On January 5, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that an additional $45 million in funding would be available to help protect New York's religious-based institutions, including private schools, against hate crimes. The governor made the announcement after participati ng in the "No Hate. No Fear." solidarity march in New York City, which has been shaken by a series of anti-semitic attacks. "The recent rash of anti-Semitic and other hate-fueled attacks in New York and across the nation are understandably causing anxiety, but we will not be intimidated," Governor Cuomo said.

According to a release by the governor's office, "The grants, which will be directed by the New York State Division of the Budget, provide up to $50,000 in funding for additional security training, cameras, door-hardening, improved lighting, state-of-the-art technology and other related security upgrades at each eligible facility. Organizations that operate more than one facility have the opportunity to submit up to five applications."
Ohio Voucher Program in Limbo
A debate in the Ohio General Assembly over eligibility for the state's EdChoice scholarship program failed to produce any solutions by the end of January, leaving the program in limbo and spurring a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Rabbi Yitz Frank, Executive Director of Agudath Israel Ohio, Chairman of School Choice Ohio, and head of Ohio's State CAPE affiliate, told Outlook, "This inaction is deeply concerning to thousands of families as well as nonpublic schools throughout Ohio. The General Assembly must act to extend school choice opportunities to Ohio families. Ohio's EdChoice program is a game changer and we look forward to continuing to work toward a positive outcome with Governor DeWine, Senate President Obhof, and Speaker Householder."
Congressional Committee Issues Report on Educational Pluralism
The Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Utah Senator Mike Lee, has issued a report titled "Multiple Choice: Increasing Pluralism in the American Education System." The report extensively cites the work of longtime CAPE board member Dr. Charles Glenn

From the report: "The lack of an explicit moral framework in the classroom does not, of course, mean that there is no moral framework in the classroom. As Glenn forthrightly put it, 'No aspect of schooling can be truly neutral.' ...Any method of understanding the world is influenced just as much by what is included on syllabi or lesson plans as what is left out."

Interesting reading.
Keeping Catholic Schools in Business
Also of interest, particularly to those in the Catholic school world: a story from the National Catholic Register titled "What Is the Future of Parochial Schools?"

From the piece: "A sobering analysis of Catholic schools shows that the ability of the middle class to have access to a faithful, top-tier Catholic education is collapsing...However, a number of Catholic parish schools and their dioceses are meeting these challenges and are thriving with innovative solutions that fulfill the Church’s mission to provide Catholic education to the children of these families, regardless of income."
IDEA: Is the Law Being Followed?
Ron Reynolds, director of the California State CAPE, has an outstanding piece on the extremely interesting situation in Massachusetts, where LEAs across the state, as well as the SEA, were found to be in serious non-compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It strikes us at Outlook as distinctly unlikely this is a uniquely Massachusetts problem.

Read Mr. Reynold's piece here and consider the situation in your state.

Meanwhile, some time in the future (though rest assured, it will be no time soon), IDEA reauthorization will come up in Congress. When that day comes, CAPE will be ready.
Private Education: Good for Students, Good for Families, Good for America
CAPE member organizations:

Agudath Israel of America

American Montessori Society

Association Montessori

Association of Christian Schools

Association of Christian
Teachers and Schools

Association of Waldorf
Schools of N.A.

Christian Schools International

Council of Islamic Schools
in North America
Council on Educational Standards
and Accountability

Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America

Friends Council on Education

Islamic Schools League of America

Jesuit Schools Network

Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

National Association of
Episcopal Schools

National Association of
Independent Schools
National Catholic
Educational Association

National Christian School

Office for Lasallian Education
Christian Brothers Conference

Oral Roberts University
Educational Fellowship

Seventh-day Adventist
Board of Education

United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran
Synod Schools
Affiliated State Organizations a coalition of national associations serving private schools K-12

Executive Director:
Michael Schuttloffel

Outlook is published monthly (September to June) by CAPE.
ISSN 0271-145

1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Tel: 844-883-CAPE

Michael Schuttloffel
Executive Director
Phone: 844-883-CAPE