Friday, March 4, 2011
I serve on the Board of the American Center for School Choice, and strongly recommend this upcoming conference, "May Superman Pray?"
May Superman Pray?
The Role of Faith-based Schools in School Choice
April 1, 2011
Boalt Hall School of Law
University of California, Berkeley
• Attendance by Invitation Only
• Registration fee: $40 (scholarships available-please enquire)
• Fee waived with student ID (still requires registration)
At this critical time when education policies throughout the US are being reshaped, The American Center for School Choice is organizing and hosting this event to ensure that Americans can select a faith-based school for their children. This is a day to analyze how best to remove obstacles to expand this choice for families and to encourage faith-based schools to increase their presence in the education reform arena.
Today, approximately 75% of the 29,000 private K-12 schools in the US are faith-based. Private schools serve about 6.1 million children, nearly 11 percent of K-12 students. But faith-based schools have been disappearing from urban areas at alarming rates. Between 2000-2006, 1162 urban faith-based schools closed and nearly 425,000 fewer students were served. This alarming trend continues today.
But we have the opportunity today to reverse that trend if faith-based schools can come together to support expanded school choice legislation and programs. Only 12 states and the District of Columbia have enacted programs that provide public dollars, mostly to low-income families, which enable these families to choose a faith-based school. These 20 programs, 11 scholarship and 9 tax-credit programs operated through nonprofit organizations, enrolled 180,000 students in 2009-10, up 87 percent in five years.
Although parental choice is clearly a driving force in school reform, as demonstrated in the growing charter school movement and California’s breakthrough Parent Trigger Act allowing parents to move against persistently failing schools, empowering families to select a faith-based school has too often been absent in reforms. With promising private school choice victories recently in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana, even supported by Democrats, this is a propitious time to develop the next steps to create more opportunities.
Only 12 states and the District of Columbia have enacted programs that provide public dollars, mostly to low-income families, which enable these families to choose a faith-based school.
The April 1 sessions will update the basis for public support for families to choose faith-based schools. All the major denominations, Catholic, Evangelical, Main line Protestant, Jewish and Muslim schools, will be represented to discuss how best to build on current programs and create new ones. The conference will examine how these schools can continue to serve low-income families in urban areas where historically they have played a strong role. The political sessions will analyze the best opportunities for passing new legislation and expanding current programs as well as what operational limitations would be unacceptable to the schools. In addition, experts will evaluate the legal constraints, such as states’ Blaine amendments, and the possibilities for challenges and/or changes to them.
We have assembled a wide range of experts to address these issues from all sides of the political spectrum. Retired federal appellate court judge and current Stanford University law professor Michael McConnell will be our luncheon speaker.
The American Center for School Choice is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 2008. The mission is to expand public support for families to choose the schools they believe will best serve their children. Although the Center has a special affinity for the plight of poor and working class parents who have been so ill-served by the predominant state education monopoly, it believes all parents and families as well as society broadly will benefit from being empowered to choose from a wide variety of educational options.
For further information, contact:
American Center for School Choice