September 2021 | Number 467
CAPE Joins Amicus Brief on Important Supreme Court Case out of Maine
On July 2, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will hear an important case that is a sequel of sorts to last year's landmark Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, in which the Court ruled that religious schools cannot be excluded from school choice programs open to secular private schools. 

The Maine case, Carson v. Makin, was brought by families objecting to the fact that the state's school choice program excludes religious schools. In Maine, state law authorizes school districts that do not operate their own high schools to provide tuition payments allowing families to select the private school of their choice, as long as the private school is not religious.

In October 2020, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit decided against the Maine families wishing to choose a religious school, effectively ruling that while Espinoza forbids a state from discriminating against a religious school because of its status as a religious school, a state is still allowed to discriminate against a religious school based on the religious use to which a student’s aid might be put at the school.

However, in his concurring opinion in Espinoza, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, "The First Amendment protects religious uses and actions for good reason. What point is it to tell a person that he is free to be Muslim but he may be subject to discrimination for doing what his religion commands"? "Calling it discrimination on the basis of religious status or religious activity makes no difference: It is unconstitutional all the same."

Today, CAPE partnered with other concerned organizations to submit an amicus brief arguing that by discriminating against religious schools, Maine's law is unconstitutional. You can read the amicus here.
FCC to Open Second Application Window for Emergency Connectivity Fund
The FCC will open a second application window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund from September 28 - October 13. These funds can be used by schools to purchase laptops, tablets, hotspots, and other forms of connectivity for students and teachers.

Schools have the option of having their technology vendor submit for reimbursement from the government rather than the school receiving the funding directly, which may reduce the school's exposure as far as any potential status as a recipient of federal financial assistance.

Click here for more information.
Pennsylvania Approves Massive Expansion of School Choice Program
On June 30, Pennsylvania's governor signed a major education bill that included a $40 million expansion of the state's tax-credit scholarship program. According to EdChoice, the "$40 million increase will allow an estimated 13,000 additional students to participate in the program."
"The Year of Educational Choice"
From Education Next:

"With 18 states enacting seven new educational choice programs and expanding 21 existing ones, 2021 has rightly been declared a 'breakthrough year' for school choice.

"During the 2020–21 school year, as reported in EdChoice’s 2021 ABCs of School Choice, approximately 608,000 students used a voucher, tax-credit scholarship, or education savings account to access the K–12 learning environment of their family’s choice. As a result of the legislation enacted so far in 2021, at least 3.6 million additional students are eligible to participate in the new educational choice programs in seven states and about 878,300 additional students are eligible to participate in the expanded choice programs in 14 states. The maximum participation of the new and expanded programs grew by a combined 1.6 million. In other words, if there is a full take up of the expanded maximum participation, the number of students participating in a private K–12 educational choice program could nearly quadruple. Nevertheless, even after such an expansion, the total would equal less than four percent of America’s nearly 60 million K–12 students, indicating just how much more work is left to do."

Read the whole thing, including a state by state analysis, here.
CA Department of Education: LA Catholic Schools Shortchanged Millions in Title I Funds
As reported by Angelus News:

"In a decision that could restore millions of dollars to Catholic schools, the state of California has ruled that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) violated federal law in ways that slashed assistance for academically struggling students in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"The archdiocese filed a complaint in September 2019, after LAUSD blocked all but 17 of more than 100 previously eligible Catholic schools from receiving federal Title I funds, which assist underperforming students with math, English and counseling. The report called LAUSD’s action 'egregious.'

"In the three years prior to 2019, LAUSD received an annual average of around $291 million in Title I funds and distributed between 2% and 2.6% among private schools, according to figures in the report. But in 2019, when it cut the Catholic recipients from 102 to 17, the district had received more than $349 million for Title 1 — an increase over earlier years — but distributed less than 0.5% among private schools.

"The total amount shared with private schools dropped from roughly $7.5 million to $1.7 million. Catholic schools reported receiving about $190,000 or 11% of the total for private schools. The Department of Catholic Schools is the largest private school system in the LA area."
USDE Releases New IDEA Guidance
From an August 24 US Department of Education press release:

"Today, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) sent a letter to its state and local partners reiterating its commitment to ensuring children with disabilities and their families have successful early intervention and educational experiences in the 2021-2022 school year.

"This letter outlines a series of question and answers (Q&As) as children and students return to in-person learning. The Q&As focus on topics to help ensure that—regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic or the mode of instruction, children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and that infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families receive early intervention services.

"The Q&As document on Child Find Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act released with the letter is the first Q&A in the series and reaffirms the importance of appropriate implementation of IDEA's child find obligations, which requires the identification, location and evaluation, of all children with disabilities in the states. An effective child find system is an ongoing part of each state's responsibility to ensure that FAPE is made available to all eligible children with disabilities.

"Other topic areas under IDEA include:

  • meeting timelines;
  • ensuring implementation of initial evaluation and reevaluation procedures;
  • determining eligibility for special education and related services;
  • providing the full array of special education and related services, that may include compensatory services, for students with disabilities to ensure they receive a FAPE; and
  • delayed evaluations and early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families served under IDEA Part C."
President Biden Unveils Sweeping Vaccine Mandates
From the Washington Post:

"President Biden announced sweeping new coronavirus vaccine mandates Thursday designed to affect tens of millions of Americans, ordering all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be immunized or face weekly testing.

"Biden’s announcement thrusts his administration into new territory, and it’s not entirely clear how the new rules — which still have to be written — will work. The most far-reaching is likely to be a regulation requiring all businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations for all their workers or require them to take weekly coronavirus tests.

"The White House estimates that the policy will affect about 80 million workers, or two-thirds of the country’s workforce. Businesses that ignore the mandate could face up to $14,000 per violation."

Meanwhile, the president also "amplified calls for states to take more aggressive measures to keep children in school amid surging coronavirus cases, calling on governors to require vaccinations for all school employees and for districts to implement more regular testing," as reported in the New York Times.

"In the latest iteration of the White House’s plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the administration will also require teachers and other employees of schools run by federal agencies to be vaccinated as part of his broad push to get the federal work force protected.

"That requirement would apply to those who teach in Head Start programs, Department of Defense Schools, and schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. Collectively, those schools serve more than 1 million children and employ nearly 300,000 staff, according to the plan released by administration officials."
Gayle Denny Receives Educational Service Award
Former CAPE board member Gayle Denny, who retired in 2019 after twenty years as Executive Director of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA), is the 2021 recipient of the Donald A. Vetter Educational Service Award. According to an ELEA release, the Donald A. Vetter Award is a "lifetime achievement award given to an individual who has exemplified the ideals of ELEA and of Lutheran education over a long period of time." Congratulations to Gayle on a well-deserved recognition after long and fruitful service in the vineyards of private education.
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

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