September 29, 2018
Up Next on the Secretariat's Calendar...
October 20th - Meeting of the Federal Assistance Advisory Commission (FAAC), Jacksonville, FL
October 21-24th - NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit, Jacksonville, FL
November 11th - Committee on Catholic Education Meeting
November 12-15th - General Assembly
December 5-7 - ExcelinEd 2018 National Summit on Education Reform

Office of Nonpublic Education (ONPE)
Mary Pat and Jenn were excited to see so many Catholic school leaders from around the country at the ONPE Private School Leadership Conference last week. Over 40 state ombudsmen attended the conference as well! 

To keep up with the work of ONPE, make sure to sign up for their listserv. The ONPE listserv is a free service offered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement - Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE). Subscribers interested in K-12 non-public school issues, including the provisions of NCLB and IDEA, will receive periodic information relevant to non-public education across the country.  You can also keep up with the news on ombudsmen and to find your ombudsmen here.

Below left and center are pictures from the Office of Non-Public Education conference. Right: Mary Pat Donoghue and Maureen Dowling (ONPE) at the Department of Education.
Federal Regulation Watch --- Proposed Regulations from the IRS Impacting State Scholarship Granting Organizations

The IRS proposed new regulations on August 23, limiting the federal deductibility of certain donations to scholarship organizations where the donor receives a state tax credit.  The IRS then issued a "clarification" on how those rules may affect business  taxpayers differently.  We are still seeking clarity on what the clarification did, or did not do, and we encourage your organization to speak to a tax professional for further interpretation.   Attached is the letter Bishop Quinn sent to Secretary Mnuchin prior to the release of the rule.  Our position remains, we request SGOs be exempt from this rule making process as we feel this regulation will reduce the number of scholarships available to low income students. 

The USCCB  is working with school choice allies here in DC to conduct outreach at the White House, OMB, IRS, Treasury and through engaged Members of Congress in affected states.  We would greatly appreciate your help in engaging your grassroots ---- leaders on the ground, as well as SGOs with whom your partner.  If you state does not currently have a scholarship tax credit - but you would like one in the future, it is also important to comment to the IRS that these proposed rules will negatively impact your efforts and goals for serving children.

With your help, we can quantify and highlight the damage this will have on SGOs who serve over 250,00 students in 18 states.  We are asking that the State Conference submit comments, and alert all school choice leaders in you state to do the same.   In addition to SGOs and Diocesan leaders, I encourage you to reach out to state officials that were involved in the creation of your program.  They should know their hard work is in jeopardy.

Comments can be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 

The deadline to comment is October 11.  There is of course the in person IRS Public hearing in DC on Nov 5th as well.

Recent Reports Round-up (compilation cred: ExcelinEd)
School Choice and Cultural Sensitivity

The role of school choice in mitigating racial tensions remains a subject of debate. Recently, a student was turned away from his Florida private school on the first day of class because of his dreadlocks. The student received a scholarship to attend the school via the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program. Citing this incident, HuffPost suggests that another Florida choice program-the Hope Scholarship-fails to help victimized children given the "racist undertones" of their school policies, which include strict hair policies.

Effect of Regulations on the Quality of Private Schools Participating in Choice Programs

Corey DeAngelis (Cato Institute) published a new study  which analyzes school participation in voucher programs and the impact of regulation on the quality of schools that choose to participate. The findings suggest that higher-quality private schools are less likely to participate in strictly regulated voucher programs, citing evidence from Milwaukee and Ohio. Since lower-quality schools may be more motivated for financial support, DeAngelis writes that "policymakers should realize that their well-intentioned regulations of voucher programs likely do more harm than good." ( RedefinED )
Fiscal Effects of School Vouchers: Examining the Savings and Costs of America's Private School Voucher Programs

In a  report released this week, Marty Lueken (EdChoice) finds that from program inception through fiscal year 2015, school vouchers have collectively saved state and local taxpayers $3.2 billion. The report includes individual profiles on 16 programs.
Analysis of ESA Spending in Tennessee

Drew Catt (EdChoice) compares how parents in Tennessee are using their ESA funds compared to parents with ESAs in Florida and Arizona. Noting the difference in eligibility requirements across each program, Catt found the greatest difference in spending was in the category of private school tuition. Notably, participating Tennessee families are allocating roughly one-sixth of their funds to ABLE accounts-a financial vehicle that allows residents with disabilities to put money aside for future qualified expenses.
GAO Report on Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on tax-credit scholarship programs and their requirements for participating students and donors. The report summarizes key characteristics of the programs including student eligibility, scholarship awards, and notes that in the 2016-17 school year, the programs awarded more than $856 million in scholarships. The report also describes how donating to a program could affect the state and federal taxes owed by donors. Starting at page 16, there are detailed analyses of how the programs interact with state and federal taxes ( Education Week).
Vouchers for Afterschool Care

In The Hechinger Report, Andre Perry (The Brookings Institution) argues in favor of vouchers for after-school programs, rather than vouchers for students to attend private schools. "School hours - typically between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. - simply don't match a 9 to 5 workday... What are parents to do with their kids in those in-between hours?"
Donors Choose: Should private school teachers be included?

Erika Sanzi (Fordham) questions why the organization, which allows teachers to request classroom supplies, is only available to public school teachers. Sanzi spoke with the organization's founder and hopes they will reconsider excluding non-public schools.
Closing the Skills Gap with Tax Incentives

In Investor's Business Daily, Peter Murphy (Invest in Education Coalition) discusses 6.7 million unfilled jobs. Businesses are hiring, but they are struggling to find skilled workers to fill the open positions. Murphy says tax incentives are needed to close the skills gap, and the USA Workforce Tax Credit Act is one possible solution.

RedefinEd Study: Private schools are safer
Nominations: Secretariat of Catholic Education's Federal Assistance Advisory Commission (FAAC)
Do you know someone who would be a good fit? Are you interested in serving?

The Commission serves as an advisory group of Catholic education practitioners who assist the USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education in its efforts: 
  • To maximize participation by Catholic school students and teachers in federally-funded educational programs.
  • To advocate on behalf of Catholic school students, teachers and administrators during reauthorization and/or revision of existing federal education programs.
  • To evaluate and support proposed federal legislation that could result in positive benefits for Catholic school students and staff. To oppose any such proposals that could result in negative outcomes.
  • To monitor the implementation of federal statutes, as well as the development of regulations and guidelines that affect Catholic schools, including their students and staff.

The FAAC Commission meets twice a year. Read the full  FAAC Goals and Policies and email Jenn (with a CV attached) if you would like to make a nomination. Thank you! 
Working Hard... and sometimes, Hardly Working!
Left and Center: Jenn Daniels and Lauren McCormack meet with White House staff to discuss full funding for DC OSP. Right: Brittney Vessely and Jenn attend the AEI gala.
As always, please share with me your ideas, suggestions, and experiences by emailing

All the best,

USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education  | 202-541-3148  | |

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