Council for American Private Education

Voice of America's Private Schools

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CAPE Supports Tax Credit Scholarships at IRS


December 3, 2018 -- On November 5, the IRS held a hearing on proposed regulations that have the potential to harm tax credit scholarship programs in the states. CAPE's Executive Director testified against the proposed regulations, as did representatives of CAPE member organizations Agudath Israel of America and the Association of Christian Schools International.

Read more about this issue in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • SAT Results Released
  • Possible Congressional Action on New Nonprofit Tax
  • Developments in Florida, Wisconsin, & Arizona
  • Private Education Loses a Great Friend

Download the December Outlook Here

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National Distinguished Principals Honored


November 1, 2018 -- The National Association of Elementary School Principals recognized four private school principals as 2018 National Distinguished Principals in Washington, DC on October 11-12.

Read more about this issue in the November issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • School Choice Battle in Arizona
  • Michigan Court Decision Backs Private Schools
  • Department of Education Elevates Private Schools Office
  • Secretary DeVos on School Choice

Download the November Outlook Here

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New Study: Vouchers Have Saved Taxpayers Billions


October 3, 2018 -- New EdChoice study reports that voucher programs across the country have saved tax-payers billions of dollars. Fiscal Effects of School Vouchers, a report authored by Martin Lueken, analyzes 16 voucher programs in nine states plus the District of Columbia. The conclusion: voucher programs have generated a "cumulative net savings to state and local budgets worth $3.2 billion from when they were launched to FY 2015." This equates to $3,400 in savings per voucher recipient. In 2015 alone voucher programs have saved taxpayers $408.5 million.

Read more about this issue in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Blue Ribbon Schools Announced
  • Private School Leaders Meet
  • Maine Policy Excludes Religious Schools
  • DC Update

Download the October Outlook Here

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New IRS Regulations Could Threaten Scholarship Programs

September 4, 2018 -- Tax credit scholarship programs in states across the country may suffer collateral damage from an ongoing battle between the Trump Administration and high-tax states over implementation of the new tax law that went into effect this year. On August 23, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued proposed regulations designed to thwart efforts by Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and other states to work around the new $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Those regulations will also apply to tax credit scholarship programs, causing fears that the new policy could result in fewer scholarships for children from low-income families.

Read more about this situation in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Increase in Support for School Choice
  • Senate Debates Education Funding
  • Private Schools Are Safer
  • State CAPE Meeting Roundup
  • New Faces at CAPE HQ

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New Mexico Supreme Court Hears Textbook Case...Again

June 1, 2018 -- On June 27 of last year, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) vacated a 2015 decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court that disallowed the provision of textbooks by the state to students in private schools, including religious schools. It did so the day after it ruled in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer that another state, Missouri, could not exclude a religious school from a grant program to enhance playground safety merely because the school was religious. SCOTUS returned the textbook case to the New Mexico court “for further consideration in light of Trinity Lutheran.”

Fast forward to May 7, 2018, when New Mexico’s highest court revisited its 2015 decision and considered once again the question of whether the state’s Instructional Materials Law (IML) is constitutional. The case involves the New Mexico Association of Nonpublic Schools, a state affiliate of CAPE.

Read more about the case and its national implications in the June issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • DeVos Visits Private Schools in NYC
  • OSP Scholar Wows AFC
  • Two States Expand Choice
  • Green Ribbon Schools
  • Joe's Goodbye

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Tax Credit Scholarship Showdown in Big Sky Country

May 1, 2018 -- In a case carrying significant consequences for school choice, the Montana Supreme Court heard oral arguments April 6 on whether the state’s tax credit scholarship program is permitted to exclude benefits for families choosing religious schools. The high-profile case involves a web of constitutional clauses, including the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution and, of course, the state’s Blaine Amendment.

Read more about the case and its national implications in the May issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • NAEP Scores Flat
  • School Crime Rates Down
  • Miss Virginia
  • National Awards
  • And Much More

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Congress Approves and President Signs Consolidated Appropriations Act

March 23, 2018 -- Congress has approved and President Trump has signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, a measure that funds government programs through September 2018. The Senate voted on the measure early this morning, and the House yesterday.

The following table provides funding levels in the act (column marked "FY 2018 Final") for key programs affecting private school students and teachers, and compares them to actual funding levels in FY 2016 and FY 2017.

Keep in mind that most education programs are “forward funded,” which means the FY 2018 levels will determine funding for programs in the 2018-19 school year.


Federal Education Spending Levels (in millions of dollars)
Various Programs Affecting Private Schools
  FY 2016 Enacted FY 2017 Enacted FY 2018 Final
Title I-A (Grants to LEAs) $14,910 $15,460 $15,760
Title I-C (Migrant Education) $375 $375 $375
Title II-A (Teacher Quality) $2,256 $2,056 $2,056
Title III-A (English Language) $737 $737 $737
Title IV-A (Support Grants) $0 $400 $1,100
Title IV-B (Learning Centers) $1,167 $1,192 $1,212
Special Ed (IDEA Part B) $11,913 $12,003 $12,278
Career Ed (Perkins Act) $1,118 $1,118 $1,193
Related Link:

April 2, 2018 -- Read more about the omnibus budget law in the April issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • CAPE Group Meets with Education Secretary DeVos
  • Becket Director Talks to CAPE
  • State CAPE Network Grows
  • Vouchers for Victims of Bullies in Florida
  • And Much More

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Private School Students More Likely to Attend College

March 1, 2018 -- Students who attended private high schools as ninth-graders were more likely to graduate from high school and to enroll and persist in postsecondary education than ninth-graders in public high schools, according to a report released last month by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) is a massive ongoing study that is following a nationally representative sample of students from public schools and private schools who were ninth-graders in the fall of 2009. The study tracks the same cohort of approximately 20,000 students as they progress through high school, postsecondary education, and into the workforce.

Read more about the study's findings in the March issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Federal Disaster Aid Set to Help Schools and Students
  • FEMA and Faith
  • DeVos Supports ESAs for Military Families
  • Trump's Proposed Budget for 2019
  • And Much More

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States Assessing Impact of Federal 529 Change


February 1, 2018 -- The massive tax reform package that Congress approved last December included a change in 529 college savings accounts to allow annual withdrawals of up to $10,000 to cover tuition in elementary and secondary schools. Now a number of states are scrambling to figure out exactly what that change might mean for taxpayers who have 529 accounts that also benefit from state tax breaks.

In states that have no tax provisions relating to college savings accounts, the issue is straightforward. Deposits into the accounts are not deductible for federal tax purposes, but earnings accumulate tax free at the federal level if used for qualified expenses. Since K-12 tuition is now a qualified expense, withdrawals for tuition up to the allowable annual limit may be taken without incurring any federal tax.

But with state 529 plans, it could be a different story. States generally allow 529 plans to grow free of state tax, and some even provide state tax deductions or credits for all or part of the contribution to a college 529 account. But will states allow for credits, deductions, and tax-free growth if funds are used for elementary and secondary tuition? Will families incur a state tax penalty if they withdraw 529 funds for K-12 tuition? Those are exactly the issues that states are actively trying to figure out. Some have already arrived at answers.

Read more about how states are handling the 529 issue in the February issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • CAPE's New Director Named
  • State CAPEs Celebrate National School Choice Week
  • Unusual Trio for Choice
  • Green Ribbon Schools
  • And Much More

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CAPE Announces New Director


January 4, 2018 -- The board of directors of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), a coalition of 22 national organizations (listed here) serving private elementary and secondary schools, announced today the appointment of Michael Schuttloffel as executive director effective July 1, 2018.

In accepting the position, Schuttloffel, currently the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, called CAPE, "an organization with a respected past and a promising future for serving the religious and independent school community in the United States.”  He said he was looking forward to helping CAPE expand its sphere of influence in preserving and promoting educational pluralism. 

One immediate focus will be affirming the vital role of private schools in American education and their significant contributions to educating the public and advancing the common good.  “CAPE will continue to promote the rights of parents to educate their children in the school of their choice and to protect the right of private schools to fulfill their unique missions,” he said.

Find out more about the appointment in CAPE's news release.

Also of interest:

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New Tax Law Affects Private Education


January 2, 2018 -- The tax bill that President Trump signed into law December 22 benefits thousands of families with children in religious and independent schools and positively resolves several issues of concern to the private school community.

Prior to the bill’s passage, CAPE invited voters to contact Congress about four specific tax-related issues, all of which were favorably addressed in the final legislation.

At the top of the list was a proposal to expand popular college savings accounts, known as 529 accounts, to allow—starting in 2018—withdrawals of up to $10,000 annually to cover tuition in elementary and secondary schools.

Read more about the impact of the new tax law on private schools in the January issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • How Do Principals Spend Their Time?
  • Vouchers Save States Money
  • National School Choice Week
  • ESAs for Gifted and Talented
  • And Much More

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New Mexico Textbook Battle


December 1, 2017 -- The New Mexico Association of Nonpublic Schools (NMANS), a state affiliate of CAPE, is at the center of a battle about a provision in the state’s constitution that discriminates against students in private schools.

At issue is whether the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled correctly when in 2015 it determined that providing state-purchased textbooks and other instructional materials to students in private schools was unconstitutional.

Article XII, Section 3 of the New Mexico Constitution says that no state funds “shall be used for the support of any sectarian, denominational or private school, college or university.” Essentially similar language, known as Blaine amendment language, exists in the constitutions of 38 states.

Read more about the report in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • SAT Scores and Private Schools
  • New Survey on Parents and Schools
  • Montessori Research
  • USDE's Priorities
  • And Much More

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Military Families Support School Choice


November 1, 2017 -- America’s military servicemembers are strong supporters of school choice.

A report published last month by EdChoice found that military households that were given a description of various school choice programs were far more likely to support such programs than oppose them. Seventy-two percent of respondents supported education savings accounts (ESAs), 64 percent supported school vouchers, and 63 percent supported tax-credit scholarships (TCSs). Only 15 percent of military households opposed ESAs, while only 27 percent opposed vouchers, and 23 percent TCSs.

The report found the “magnitude and intensity” of military support for choice programs “surprising” and suggestive of “military parents’ strong desire for better access to school choice options.”

Read more about the report in the November issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Enrollment Projections to 2025
  • Security Grants in New York State
  • Choice Video Contest
  • CAPE Executive Director Search
  • And Much More

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Big Blue Illinois Enacts School Choice Legislation


October 2, 2017 -- School choice advocates across the country have been collectively celebrating landmark scholarship tax credit legislation that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed August 31. (Photo: Office of the Governor)

Although 17 other states have similar programs, this was the school choice movement’s “first victory in a big and overwhelmingly Democratic state,” according to Scott Jensen, senior government affairs advisor for the American Federation for Children (AFC). “Hopefully, this victory for children in the big blue state of Illinois, will encourage other large Democratic states to embrace school choice,” he added.

The Illinois program provides tax credits to individuals and corporations that donate to organizations that award scholarships to students to attend private schools. The tax credits will be worth 75 percent of the donation’s value, so a $1,000 donation will yield a tax savings of $750. Up to $75 million in tax credits will be issued each year, translating into $100 million in scholarships. The legislation allows individual donors to direct their contributions to particular types of schools or even a particular school, but prohibits corporate donors from doing so.

Read more about the program in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Millennials Support Vouchers
  • Education Department Sponsor Private School Leader Conference
  • Secretary DeVos Visits Private Schools
  • Blue Ribbon Schools Named

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