May 2022 | Number 475
CAPE Again Submits Comments on New York "Substantial Equivalency" Regs
CAPE has again taken action in the ongoing saga over New York's proposed "substantial equivalency" regulations. On May 27, CAPE submitted public comments to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) describing its concerns over the regulations that NYSED could finalize this fall.

The regulations concern the implementation of the statutory mandate that a private school student in New York receive instruction that is “at least substantially equivalent to the instruction given to minors of like age and attainments at the public schools of the city or district where the minor resides.” In response to an uproar of private school opposition, welcome changes have been made from the original 2018 proposal. Nonetheless, the current iteration of the proposed regs would still leave some private schools subject to extensive and intrusive oversight by their LEA.

As the CAPE letter points out, "Parents dig deep into their pockets to educate their children in private schools precisely because they want their children to have an educational experience that is substantially different from – not substantially equivalent to – the experience they would have in public school. Private schools are established to provide a meaningful alternative to public education."
Tennessee Supreme Court Rules ESA Program Constitutional
According to a May 18 release from the Tennessee Court System, the Tennessee Supreme Court has determined that the state's "Education Savings Account Pilot Program" is not unconstitutional under the Tennessee Constitution.

"The Act establishes a program allowing a limited number of eligible students to directly receive their share of state and local education funds, which would ordinarily be provided to the public school system they attend, to pay for a private school education and associated expenses."
Foundation for Economic Education: Could Employer-Based Microschooling Be the Newest Workplace Perk?

When Elon Musk created a small school for his children and some of his SpaceX employees on the company’s California campus, he created a spark that could just now be catching on in other workplaces across the country. 

In a 2015 interview about the school, the billionaire inventor said: "The regular schools weren’t doing the things that I thought should be done. So I thought, well, let’s see what we can do."

Now, more companies may be recognizing that offering an on-site, innovative school for employees’ children is an enticing workplace benefit. Employer-based daycare and preschool programs have long been a fixture in many workplaces, helping employees to better balance their job and family life. Once children reach school-age, however, employers largely leave parents on their own. 

That could be changing, fueled by the rising popularity of microschools and the ease with which they can be integrated into corporate and other organizational settings.

School Choice Could Save State Money in Michigan
According to a new report from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Student Opportunity Scholarship Program bill passed by the Michigan Legislature in the fall of 2021, but vetoed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, could have generated savings to the state.

As described by the Wall Street Journal, researchers Ben DeGrow and Martin Lueken found that "the program could cost taxpayers as little as $106 million or save them as much as $386 million. Compare that with nearly $6 billion the state received for schools in federal Covid relief and its $17.1 billion K-12 education budget."

An effort is currently underway to overcome the governor's veto by putting the proposed scholarship program on the ballot.
NY Times: Plunging Enrollment a "Seismic Hit" to Public Schools
The following is excerpted from a very interesting New York Times story:

In New York City, the nation’s largest school district has lost some 50,000 students over the past two years. In Michigan, enrollment remains more than 50,000 below prepandemic levels from big cities to the rural Upper Peninsula.

In the suburbs of Orange County, Calif., where families have moved for generations to be part of the public school system, enrollment slid for the second consecutive year; statewide, more than a quarter-million public school students have dropped from California’s rolls since 2019.

And since school funding is tied to enrollment, cities that have lost many students — including Denver, Albuquerque and Oakland — are now considering combining classrooms, laying off teachers or shutting down entire schools.

All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon.

A broad decline was already underway in the nation’s public school system as rates of birth and immigration have fallen, particularly in cities. But the coronavirus crisis supercharged that drop in ways that experts say will not easily be reversed.

No overriding explanation has emerged yet for the widespread drop-off. But experts point to two potential causes: Some parents became so fed up with remote instruction or mask mandates that they started home-schooling their children or sending them to private or parochial schools that largely remained open during the pandemic. And other families were thrown into such turmoil by pandemic-related job losses, homelessness and school closures that their children simply dropped out.

In large urban districts, the drop-off has been particularly acute. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s noncharter schools lost some 43,000 students over the past two school years. Enrollment in the Chicago schools has dropped by about 25,000 in that time frame.

But suburban and rural schools have not been immune.

In the suburbs of Kansas City, the school district of Olathe, Kan., lost more than 1,000 of its 33,000 or so students in 2020, as families relocated and shifted to private schools or home-schooling; only about half of them came back this school year.

In some states where schools eschewed remote instruction — Florida, for instance — enrollment has not only rebounded, but remains robust. An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank, concluded last month that remote instruction was a major driver around the country, with enrollment falling most in districts most likely to have delayed their return to in-person classrooms.

Private schools have also seen some gains in enrollment. Federal head counts have not yet been released, but both the National Association of Independent Schools and the National Catholic Educational Association have reported increases that total about 73,000 K-12 students during the past two years.

School funding is tied directly to enrollment numbers in most states, and while federal pandemic aid has buffered school budgets so far, the Biden administration has made it clear that the relief is finite. Some districts are already bracing for budget shortfalls.

The defections spanned the economic spectrum. In affluent Laguna Beach, Dr. Ann Vu became so fed up with the public school district’s plan for reopening classrooms that, this year, she moved two of her four children to private schools.

“The kids just weren’t doing anything at all,” said Dr. Vu, a dermatologist who said her children were gone for good from the public system. At the Catholic high school where her daughter landed, the once-modest wait list is 200 names long.

State education officials have appointed a task force to investigate the decline and to try to determine the whereabouts of unaccounted-for students and their reasons for leaving the public school system. The drop defies a significant infusion of money and manpower to keep students in classrooms, including mass coronavirus testing and outreach for chronically absent students.

At the Capistrano Unified School District in the suburbs of Orange County, where home buyers have long paid a premium for the public school system, more than 3,000 parents said in a survey last month that they would withdraw their children next school year if Covid-19 vaccines become mandatory for school attendance without at least a “personal belief” exemption.

“We love our school,” Lisa Rogers, 38, a district mother of two, said. “But if my children are forced to wear masks again, or if I’m forced to vaccinate them against my will, I’m going to pull them out and home-school.”

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