Ed Policy Mathematics: Adding, Subtracting and Multiplying Provisions

November 9, 2017
529 Expansion
Today the House Ways & Means Committee approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act , which includes changes to education provisions. One would expand the use of 529 savings accounts to include elementary and secondary tuition (currently, 529s are a savings vehicle for college tuition), and another repeals employer deductions for tuition assistance.

The 529 change is not what we have been urging Congress to adopt, though it is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, the deduction repeals will inadvertently have a negative impact on our school communities.

The USCCB is engaging the Congress over the tax reform bills and highlighting how they will impact Catholic education in this country. Chairman Murry co-signed a letter to the House of Representatives earlier today expressing some of these concerns.

Three Things from ED
The Department of Education has been busy since our last newsletter. At the end of October, they removed and deleted hundreds of regulatory and guidance documents. This is in keeping with the Administration's stated goal of trimming unnecessary regulations (most are outdated or superseded by later documents). Your author and our allies in the non-government schooling sector have not come across anything objectionable regarding equitable services documents.

Additionally, the Department released its priorities for consideration when awarding competitive grants. The first priority speaks directly to us - "Empowering Families to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Child's Unique Needs." The emphases of the Department are important, and the fact they are trending toward empowering families and enabling choice is bringing them closer to Catholic social teaching on education.

Lastly, the Office of Non-Public Education released their latest Ombudsman Newsletter, with an informative FAQ, a state spotlight, and a resource for further collaboration. I encourage you to sign yourself up, and ensure your ombudsman is aware of this resource as well.
From the Executive Director
In August, I announced that Greg Dolan, Associate Director of Public Policy, would be moving to Pittsburgh in December.  We are most grateful to Greg for his excellent work on behalf of Catholic education at the federal level. He will be missed in the Secretariat of Catholic Education.  We wish Greg and his family God's abundant blessings. 
I am pleased to announce that Jennifer Daniels will be the new Associate Director for Public Policy in the Secretariat of Catholic Education.  Jennifer has 15 years of experience in private school and government service.  She has worked at both the federal and state level and brings practical experience in advocacy and Catholic schools.  In addition to serving as a staffer in the US House of Representatives, Jennifer has served at the US State Department and the Archdiocese of Washington DC.  While at the Archdiocese, she served in the Catholic school's office as Director of Government Relations managing the federal grants and programs in the six counties touching the Archdiocesan boundaries.  She served the Archdiocese as policy expert for the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program, the only federal parental choice program and has been involved in parental choice initiatives with state and national organizations.  Jennifer and her husband, Gavin, have three beautiful daughters, Emily, Ella and Everly.  You will learn more about her passion and experience in the months to come.  
--Sr. John Mary Fleming, O.P. 

As always, please share with me your ideas, suggestions, and experiences by emailing gdolan@usccb.org


USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education  | 202-541-3148  | gdolan@usccb.org | http://tinyurl.com/CatholicEdPolicy

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