The revised substantial equivalency guidelines issued by SED, based in part by the amendment to section 3204 of the education law enacted as part of last year’s state budget, set forth three pathways for determining the substantial equivalency of private schools:
- those high schools which register with SED and whose substantial equivalency is reviewed and determined by SED;
- the subset of bilingual, extended-day schools to be reviewed by local public school authorities who then advance a recommendation regarding substantial equivalency to the Commissioner for a final determination; and
- all other private schools which are to be reviewed by local public school officials resulting in a final vote at a public meeting of a public school board.
Schools in this third pathway do not have the benefit of having a determination of their equivalence made by the Commissioner but rather by a vote of the thousands of the locally-elected school board members across the state. At a minimum, this raises equal protection questions. Moreover, in the case of religious schools, sending local school authorities to scrutinize private religious schools would create excessive governmental entanglement in and an infringement of the exercise of religion. The very process of sending local school boards to inspect and evaluate religious schools raises these entanglement concerns, regardless of the outcome of such scrutiny. We maintain that in no case should a local public school board have authority over whether a private school can operate. While we are accountable primarily to the parents who choose our schools for their children’s formal education, any government authority over our schools rests with the NYS Board of Regents.More
Under the unprecedented February 2014 agreement between the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the state agreed to immediately begin to remove pregnant and mentally disabled prisoners from segregation. Unfortunately, there continues to be a significant use of solitary confinement in the state’s prison system. This practice is in need of immediate and further reforms. More
Throughout New York State, thousands of farmworkers face difficult working conditions, living conditions and other barriers to quality of life. More
The Gospel and our social teaching require special concern and attention toward people who are struggling to lift themselves out of poverty. Every day, our neighbors show courage, resourcefulness and determination to fulfill the potential of their lives, often against great odds.
While some are economically able to thrive in our state’s economy, many others remain challenged. Many individuals and families are being left behind because they lack education and job skills. Despite their hard work in agriculture, restaurants, healthcare and other sectors, the working poor and middle class are often unable to support their families and obtain adequate housing.
We must ensure that those trying to lift themselves out of poverty are not forgotten. It is the obligation of New York State to ensure appropriate supports, and the strains upon the safety net and its community providers require renewed commitment in the budgeting process.
One area to assist the low-wage worker is to offer a better hourly wage. This can be attained through a higher minimum wage and an across-the-board COLA. More
Over the past number of years, a significant rise has occurred in the number of people turning to emergency food programs and pantries. Many are members of working families who use these pantries to supplement their paychecks and feed their families. A need for increased funding exists to ensure that the emergency food pantries can provide needed assistance. More
The New York State DREAM ACT will provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education. More
New York State needs to make an increased investment to be the significant need for increased access to safe, affordable, quality child care programs for low-income families. More
One out of every seven homeless people in the United States lives in New York. Statewide there are roughly 67,000 men, women and children who are staying in shelters at any given time. In New York City alone, more than 59,000 people, including 24,000 children sleep in a homeless shelter each night. An additional 7,000 people stay in a shelter outside New York City. Thousands of others sleep on the streets or in abandoned buildings and makeshift campsites while thousands more exit foster care, hospitals and other institutions each year without a home.
Homelessness in New York has nearly doubled in the last decade. New York State must end this crisis and invest in the most cost-effective strategy proven to solve homelessness for those with the greatest needs – supportive housing, which pairs affordable housing with on-site supportive services. More
The continuum of safe, affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families and individuals needs to be preserved and expanded, especially in rural areas.
The Council of Catholic Charities Directors seeks the expansion of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and individuals. More
Working individuals and families face significant barriers in accessing affordable and reliable transportation in many parts of the state. This problem is particularly acute in rural areas and at non-peak hours. There is a need to invest in innovative solutions to overcome this significant barrier. More