January 2023 | Number 481
Iowa Governor Signs Historic School Choice Bill into Law
In a rousing kickoff to National School Choice Week, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation into law on January 24 that will allow Iowa families to use Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) worth roughly $7,600. After the program’s three year phase-in, all Iowa families will be eligible for the program. The ESAs can be used for private school tuition as well as other educational purposes.
Utah Approves Universal ESAs
Four days after his Iowa counterpart, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed legislation creating a universal education savings account program that will be open to every child in the Beehive State. The bill was passed with “referendum-proof” supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature.

According to the American Federation for Children, under the new law:

  • Every student in the state of Utah will be eligible for an ESA of $8,000 per year to be used for qualified education expenses including private school tuition, therapies, tutors, and curriculum.

  • Lower-income families will receive preference in the application process.

  • The program has a cap of $42 million per year.
New Education R&D Funds Included in Year-End Bill
From The 74:

Funding increases written into the recently passed $1.7 trillion federal omnibus package will provide a substantial jumpstart to education research and statistics this year — and could even evolve into an entity mirroring DARPA, the Pentagon’s storied research and development branch.

The law, passed by bipartisan majorities and signed by President Biden in the closing days of 2022, includes a $70 million boost to the Institute for Education Sciences, the Department of Education’s arm for statistics, research, and evaluation. Within that 9.6 percent bump — which brings IES’s overall budget to $808 million — $40 million are allocated for research, development, and dissemination, including an unspecified amount intended to foster “quick-turnaround, high-reward scalable solutions intended to improve education outcomes for all students.”

That initiative will be housed within the National Center for Education Research, one of the Institute’s four research and statistics hubs, with the hope that it will eventually be spun off into a fifth such center. In an interview with The 74, IES Director Mark Schneider described the infusion of money as a down payment toward “something the department’s been talking about for 20 years.”

The idea for a national K–12 center focused on research and development predates both the pandemic and the last few presidential administrations. President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal explicitly called for the creation of such a body, invoking the example of DARPA, the advanced defense research agency that is credited with bringing about such technological innovations as weather satellites, GPS, and the internet.

Read the whole thing here.
Report: School Choice Can Benefit Rural Areas
A new report for the Heritage Foundation takes on commonly heard arguments that school choice is a bad fit for rural areas. From the report:

Opponents of education choice often make two arguments about its effect on rural areas: (1) Education choice will not help in rural areas because there are few or no alternatives to the district school system, and (2) education choice will destroy the district school system because so many students will leave for alternative options. These two claims are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be true, but they can both be—and indeed are—false.

The dearth of education options in rural areas has been greatly exaggerated. About seven in 10 rural families live within 10 miles of a private elementary school.

The most recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress for Arizona—the state with the greatest access to education choice—do not support the claim that education choice has been harmful to the rural district schools. Indeed, the best available evidence indicates that education choice is the rising tide that lifts all boats.

Read the whole report here.
Student Develops Chat GTB Countermeasure
In last month's CAPE Outlook, we highlighted a piece on Chat GBT, described by the story as "an artificial intelligence bot released a few weeks ago that allows users to ask questions and, moments later, receive well-written answers that are eerily human." This development has understandably caused some concern on the part of teachers across the country.

Now, a student at Princeton University has created an app to determine whether an essay is machine generated.

As many educators began to worry about whether students may use the popular artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT to churn out papers devoid of original thought, Edward Tian had an idea.

Tian, a 22-year-old student at Princeton University, decided to build an app to detect whether text has been generated by a machine or written by a person.

On Jan. 2, he launched GPTZero, which analyzes different properties of a text.

Tian, who studies computer science and journalism, said he expected a few dozen people to ever try it. But he woke up the next morning stunned by the response.

By now, it has gotten more than 7 million views, he said, and he has heard from people all over the world — many of them teachers.

Tian is not the only one trying to craft technology that can distinguish writing created by human thought from that generated by a machine; there are plagiarism-detection companies scrambling to do just that. The organization that launched ChatGPT also is working on ways to signal the text was produced with AI.

The whole story can be found here.
Oregon CAPE Leader on the Need to Raise Student Proficiency
Mark Siegel, head of the Oregon CAPE, has a piece in Government Technology laying out the case for shifting to a learner-paced education model.

"While the NAEP report is heartbreaking, and the NCSL report is challenging, they should motivate all of us to implement education programs and systems that are personalized and that focus on mastery of material before moving on. That should be the new bedrock of our schools, where learning is the constant and time is the variable. Personalized learning should be the new status quo."

Read it here.
CAPE Platinum Level Partners: Catapult Learning & Archangel
Private Education: Good for Students, Good for Families, Good for America
CAPE member organizations:

Agudath Israel of America

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