June 2021 | Number 466
Federal Appeals Court Rejects Vermont Policy Discriminating Against Religious Schools
On June 2, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Vermont cannot refuse to allow religious schools to participate in a tuition program open to other private schools.

According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented religious students and schools in their lawsuit against state officials, "The state’s Town Tuition Program provides educational vouchers for students who live in towns that lack public schools. Towns that pay tuition for their students instead of maintaining a public high school are called 'sending towns,' and they directly provide tuition on behalf of their students to any private school that the family chooses. Students may use this benefit at any public school or secular private school, but the towns denied the benefit to students who chose religious private high schools."

A similar lawsuit in Maine was rejected by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit last year. A "circuit split" can sometimes lead to the US Supreme Court stepping in to give a definitive ruling. Last year, in the landmark Espinoza case, the Supreme Court declared that "A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious." Apparently some states still have not got the message.
Kansas Improves Tax Credit Scholarship Program
The Kansas Legislature has passed, and Governor Laura Kelly has signed, major education legislation that includes important changes to that state's tax credit scholarship program. Since its inception in 2014, the program has been limited to low-income students attending the lowest performing schools in the state. The newly signed law removes the lowest performing schools restriction and broadens the income eligibility criteria. Now, students from low-income families attending any public school in Kansas will be eligible.

James Franko, President of Kansas Policy Institute, described the legislation as "a dramatic expansion of school choice just when families need the most help after the economic and educational shock of COVID-19."
Oklahoma Expands Tax Credit Scholarships
Kansas' neighbor to the south has also made changes to its tax credit scholarship program. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed a bill that increases the tax credits available to donors under the program from $3.5 million to $25 million. Donated funds are used for scholarships for private school tuition. The legislation also increases the state's tax-credit program for donations to public schools to $25 million.
Missouri Legislature Approves New School Choice Program
Missouri lawmakers have approved a new education savings account program that will be funded by tax-credited donations, rather than by legislative appropriations. Donated funds will be able to be used for private school tuition for low-income children, as well as other education-related expenses. The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.
Iowa Expands School Choice Programs
Governor Kim Reynolds has signed legislation increasing the cap on Iowa's tax credit scholarship program from $15 million to $20 million. In addition, the tax credit for donations will be increased from 65% to 75%. The parental tuition tax credit will also be raised from $250 to $500 per student.
Illinois Scholarship Program Survives Attempted Cuts, Nevada Program Expanded
Targeted for cuts by the governor and opponents in the Legislature, Illinois' Invest in Kids came out of the legislative session instead with a one year extension. According to Illinois Policy, "The program gives low-income students alternatives to failing schools or to school environments that don’t meet their needs. The average scholarship recipient’s family income is $38,000, and 49% are Black or Hispanic."

In Nevada, end of session developments led to improvements in the Opportunity Scholarship program. Language from 2019 that effectively prohibited scholarship granting organizations from offering scholarships to new students was removed and the cap on tax credits used to fund the program was increased by $4.7 million.
"Project Nickel" Brings Transparency to Education Spending
From redefinED:

"Thanks to Project Nickel, a new search engine created by Lincoln Studio in partnership with EdChoice, parents in most states can now learn exactly what their local public school spends on their child’s education. 

"Project Nickel is made possible by the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, bipartisan legislation updating the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. ESSA requires that states report per-student spending by public schools to the federal government. The Department of Education recently has begun aggregating and publishing this data.

"To make this information more accessible to the public, Lincoln Studio partnered with EdChoice to develop a website. Project Nickel is a first-of-its-kind search engine of U.S. public school per-student spending data required to be reported to the U.S. Department of Education under a bipartisan 2015 law. Parents and anyone interested in what a public school spends per child can quickly get an answer by simply entering the school’s name. 

"As of May 2021, Project Nickel presents data from each of the 37 states that have complied with federal law and reported spending data to the Department of Education, which has published the data. The remaining states and territories have not yet complied with the 2015 law to report information to the Department.

"The search engine currently includes data from nearly 50,000 public schools across the United States and will be adding more schools as the Department publishes more data."
Boston Archdiocese's First New School in 50 Years Will Be "Blended Learning" Experience
From WGBH:

"The Boston Archdiocese is launching its first brand new Catholic school in more than half a century. Lumen Verum, which is Latin for 'true light,' will combine virtual learning and in-person experiences into what officials at the archdiocese call a 'blended learning' experience. There will be no school building and no central, physical classroom.

"'There’s literally no other blended learning Catholic school in the country,' said Thomas Carroll, Superintendent for Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. 'It’s different than all the other schools. If people want a more conventional bricks and mortar school we got a hundred of those…but we wanted to create something that didn’t exist.'

"The school will launch this fall with about 25 students across Grades 6 through 8. Two co-principles will oversee five teachers and two campus ministers. Carroll said the plan is to add grades 9 through 12 in subsequent years and eventually serve 350-400 students.

"Virtual classes will be conducted four days a week from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and include a mix of lectures, curated digital content, and virtual guest speakers from across the world, including some Catholic university professors who are on sabbatical.

"In-person days will be held each Wednesday and Saturday, with the weekend sessions being optional. Carroll said that in-person days will include everything from visits to historic sights to excursions to local beaches and hiking trails."
Pharrell Williams to Open Private Schools for Disadvantaged Children
From the Virginian-Pilot:

"Singer Pharrell Williams’ nonprofit plans to open a group of small private schools for students from low-income families, starting in Norfolk.

"Because it’s tuition-free, Williams’ school will let children whose parents can’t afford private schools enroll.

"The new school’s curriculum will have a heavy emphasis on STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math.

"The school will initially enroll between 40 and 50 students. Though admission is open to eligible third, fourth and fifth graders, the school doesn’t plan to have grade-level cohorts, McGalliard said. Instead, students will be grouped by skill level.

"Families can apply to the school online at www.teamyellow.org/yellowhab until July 1 and students will be picked through a lottery process.

"The new school will open Sept. 7."
Former Quaker School Leader & CAPE Executive Director Robert L. Smith Dies
In the April edition of Outlook, we reported the sad news that Bob Lamborn, Executive Director of CAPE from 1973-1979, had passed away at the age of 102. On May 24, his successor as CAPE Executive Director, Robert L. Smith, died at the age of 96. Mr. Smith was CAPE's Executive Director until 1989.

The Washington Post's obituary described Smith as "a progeny of nine generations of Quakers, author of 'A Quaker Book of Wisdom,' and headmaster of the elite Sidwell Friends School for 13 years." RIP.
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

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