November 2022 | Number 479
Tennessee Court Upholds School Choice Program

A judicial panel sided with the state on Wednesday and dismissed remaining legal claims raised in two lawsuits challenging Tennessee’s private school voucher law.

The judges ruled that Metropolitan Nashville and Shelby County governments, along with a group of parents who oppose vouchers, have no legal standing to challenge Tennessee’s 2019 Education Savings Account law, which provides taxpayer money to pay toward private school tuition.

Voucher advocates quickly hailed the decision by the three-judge panel of Davidson County Chancery Court as a victory for parents wanting more education choices for their children.

“Today is a great day for educational freedom in Tennessee,” said Justin Owen, president of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, one of several groups involved in the case.
States Gearing Up for School Choice Push in Spring 2023
In recent weeks, governors and legislators from several states have made clear their intention to pursue parental choice laws in the spring of 2023. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recently declared that school choice is "my top priority." Meanwhile in Arkansas, Senate President Pro Tempore Bart Hester said, "We’re going to work on educational freedom, and that’s for every kid in Arkansas. Our biggest priority in Arkansas is parental empowerment through choice.”

In Nevada, Governor-Elect Joe Lombardo said that "As your next governor, my administration will expand school choice." While in Wisconsin, "Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has indicated he wants to see 'universal school choice' become law."

Finally, private school advocates wonder if this is finally the year that school choice breaks through in Texas, with Governor Greg Abbott repeatedly expressing support in his public remarks.
AP: Private School Vouchers Open Faith Options for Kids of Color
From the AP:

On break in the hallway between St. Marcus Lutheran Church and its attached school, eighth grader Annii Kinepoway had no hesitation in explaining what she’s learned to love best here — the good Lord and good grades.

“I like knowing there’s somebody you can ask for help if you need it. Somebody is there and looking over you,” she said of her newly found faith, while proudly wearing the tie indicating her academic honors.

Annii’s mother could only afford this educational opportunity because of school choice programs, which 94% of St. Marcus’ 1,160 students in Milwaukee also use.

“It has changed our lives for the better,” said Wishkub Kinepoway, a Native American and African American single mom. “She says, ‘I really love St. Marcus because I don’t have to pretend I’m not smart.’”

...But many low-income parents in neighborhoods like Milwaukee’s predominantly African American north side or Latino south side say voucher programs — introduced here three decades ago — are the only way their children can attend faith-based institutions. They say those schools teach structure and values in ways public ones are often too overwhelmed to do.

...While urban, faith-based schools don’t necessarily outperform all public ones on test scores, their students enjoy better civic outcomes, from college graduation rates to lower drug use, said Patrick Wolf, a professor of education at the University of Arkansas.

“They contribute more to the community than just educating the kids,” Wolf said.

...Diamond Figueroa, a sixth grader who attends Phoenix Christian thanks to financial assistance just like 98% of her schoolmates, said she wasn’t always comfortable in public school, even though more students there were also Hispanic.

“Everyone here is so much nicer and welcoming,” she said. “I am not afraid to ask questions.”

Read the whole thing here.
Ohio Scholarship Program Litigation Update
In Ohio, a Franklin County judge is close to deciding whether a lawsuit filed by school choice opponents challenging the state's EdChoice scholarship program can proceed. Arguments over dismissal of the case were held on October 25, with the judge indicating that a decision could come in the following weeks. Under the Ohio program, the state funds scholarships worth up to $5,500 for students in grades K–8 and $7,500 in grades 9–12.
NY Catholic Schools Head Speaks Out
In a recent column, Michael Deegan, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York, says that "lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and state houses around the country can provide relief to the middle class, while simultaneously enhancing education by once and for all passing parental school choice legislation."

He goes on the explain that while recently released test scores showed a drop in proficiency in reading and math in the public schools, Catholic schools saw no such declines. "In fact, our Archdiocesan Catholic schools saw a 7% increase in the all-important English Language Arts (ELA) test scores. And to think, so many more children across New York state could be right there with our Catholic school students, moving forward, instead of catching up."

"Parental school choice makes Catholic schools an option for all. Here in the Archdiocese of New York, we are passionate about continuing our mission - teaching children of all faiths – and simultaneously fulfilling a public service at a fraction of the $30,000 per pupil expense of the New York City school system."

According to Deegan, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese "graduate 99% of seniors, of whom 98% are accepted to college or post-secondary education."

Read the whole thing 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