Education

Substantial Equivalency of Private Schools

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:

  1. those high schools which register with SED and whose substantial equivalency is reviewed and determined by SED;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

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Tax Credits for Choice and Investments in Education

Summary

1)    Parents have a fundamental right and responsibility to direct their children’s education.

2)    All parents, whether their children attend a public, charter, independent or religious school, or are home-schooled, bear additional expenses for their children’s education beyond what they pay in state and local taxes.

3)    All public schools need additional revenue to support important programs and help offset rising costs; and scholarship organizations need additional contributions to provide scholarships for those children on their waiting lists.

4)   New York State continues to lag behind the nearly 30 states (and the District of Columbia) that have enacted programs that provide assistance to tuition-paying families as well as additional support for public schools. More


Provide Full Reimbursement for All State Mandates and Expenses

Summary

Until recently, the state’s Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) program has provided 100% reimbursement of the costs incurred by schools in compliance with state administrative mandates.  For the last several years, agency officials have not permitted schools to claim 100 percent of their expenses – nor have lawmakers provided sufficient funds to reimburse schools for those expenses.  In addition, in 2009, lawmakers bailed out the beleaguered Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) by imposing a payroll tax on all employers in the MTA region – but have provided reimbursement to only public schools.  

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Full Funding for Academic Intervention Services

Summary

The NYS Board of Regents promulgated regulations requiring schools to administer Academic Intervention Services (AIS) to students at risk of not meeting the state’s learning standards and graduation requirements.  AIS is to be provided to students who score in levels 1 and 2 on ELA and Math tests administered in grades 3-8 as well as students who fail to pass Regents’ exams.  Independent and religious schools, unlike their public school counterparts, lack the funds needed to implement the Regents’ AIS regulations.

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Health, Safety & Security

Summary

All schools are expected to be safe, secure and void of health risks.  Yet health, safety and security concerns continue to arise within our schools.  While public schools receive state aid and are able to levy taxes to respond to these concerns, independent and religious schools are finding it increasingly difficult to respond to these concerns without additional funding.   Moreover, there are numerous of health and safety related state mandates and standards for which our schools receive no reimbursement

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School Transportation Reform

Summary

Limited and inconsistent transportation services impose a significant burden on parents who enroll their children in religious and independent schools.  Moreover, the availability of bus service often determines whether parents can exercise their right to select a school for their children.

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Entry-Level Teacher Support Programs

Summary

There are approximately 10,000 new teachers hired each year by schools in New York State.  Regulations of the NYS Board of Regents require new teachers to complete a mentored experience within their first year of employment as a teacher in order to obtain their professional certificate.  Support programs for beginning teachers, including mentoring, will improve teacher retention rates and improve instruction and learning by enhancing teacher quality.  Such program should be enacted to support all new teachers thereby supporting all students.

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Sufficient Resources for Teacher Training Programs

Summary

No student should ever be denied a quality teacher, and only through a well-prepared teaching force can we expect children to meet higher academic standards and be prepared to live and work in an increasingly complicated and ever-changing world.  In addition, certified teachers are now expected to meet rigorous continuing education requirements.

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