Catholic Schools Week
Happy and blessed Catholic Schools Week to all of you. This year's 40th Anniversary of CSW brings to mind that Catholic Schools are uniquely positioned to be centers of the New Evangelization as communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for what you do each and every day to guide students and young people to encounter Jesus Christ here and now so as to live with Him in eternity.
If you have not had the opportunity to see Archbishop George Lucas' greeting for Catholic Schools Week on the USCCB website please visit the Catholic Education homepage to view the video. We are delighted that Archbishop Lucas is the new chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education for the USCCB. The members of the full committee can be found on the Who We Are page on the USCCB Catholic Education website.
Associate Director of Public Policy
On January 3, the USCCB and NCEA filed joint comments to the Department of Agriculture's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. The proposed rule deals with the Community Eligibility Option ("CEO"). This is a reimbursement option for eligible LEA's and schools that wish to offer free school meals to all children in high poverty schools without collecting household applications. The CEO has been piloted in certain states and has succeeded in counting more students for free lunches and breakfasts, and the USCCB and NCEA support this goal of increased participation. However, a problem of inequity occurs when the increased CEO count is applied to Title I funding. The total amount of funding remains the same, but is divided among a higher number of students. That reduces the per pupil allocation and puts schools not eligible to use the CEO option at a disadvantage. We directed our Comments to the equitable application of the CEO provision. The Comments are posted on the USCCB website at http://www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/index.cfm .
Subsequent to the Comment filing deadline, the Department of Education issued a 24-page guidance on the CEO provision and its effect on Title I funding and equitable participation by private schools. We are working with the DOE's Office of Nonpublic Education to understand the full effect of this guidance.
Thank you to all the Superintendents that responded to my request for data on the CCDBG and pre-school enrollment. The information was very helpful in providing input requested by Congressional staff on the CCDBG and Universal Pre-K legislation. These two programs came out as clear winners in the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Agreement reached by Congress with nearly $8.6 billion in funding for Head Start and $2.3 billion for the CCDBG program. It may be that Head Start becomes the vehicle used to further the funding and access to Universal Pre-K.
|FAAC Plans for ESEA Reauthorization|
FAAC (The Federal Assistance Advisory Commission) serves as an advisory group of Catholic education practitioners who assist the USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education in its efforts to maximize participation by Catholic school students and teachers in federally-funded educational programs. Presently, ESEA reauthorization is the key to maximizing participation. Some in Congress say that ESEA reauthorization will not happen anytime soon. Because of this extended delay in legislation, it is critical to maintain a consistent educational advocacy strategy that keeps ESEA before Congressional representatives. This will allow us to develop appropriate relationships so that as ESEA reauthorization discussions continue, we can engage with Congressional staff directly.
Step 1 of this plan involves a first round of Hill visits in March to discuss ESEA reauthorization. These visits will involve key members from the two Education committees in Congress-the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the House Education and the Workforce Committee. This key list of members will be Senators and Representatives who constitute Committee leadership, have helped us with language, and/or with whom we have strong connections. We are using this list and the location of each corresponding Congressional district, to invite Superintendents and State Catholic Conference Directors from those districts to come to the USCCB on March 4 and 5, 2014 for advocacy training followed by visits to the Hill.