Substantial Equivalency Alert: What Families Should Know

For more than two years, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, his brother Bishops, and the entire Catholic school community across New York State have engaged our elected state government officials regarding an outdated state law that requires all school-age instruction to be “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools. More specifically, our objections center on the New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) proposal to enforce the law by compelling local public school district officials to evaluate our schools and authorizing them to determine whether our schools may continue to operate.

The New York State Catholic Conference recently sent this notice to members of the Catholic Action Network to update them on the issue and prepare them for a potential request to join the advocacy effort should the issue warrant. We want to share that note to make you aware of the archdiocese’s active participation in this advocacy campaign, which has taken numerous forms since the issue was initially broached by NYSED. Moving forward, the Catholic school superintendents of each diocese will submit their official objections directly to the New York State Board of Regents to maintain our consistent, united position. The result of that dialogue will determine how we, as statewide Catholic educators, proceed, and you can rest assured the archdiocese will communicate those plans to you as we move forward together to defeat this ill-conceived and unacceptable proposal.

We encourage you to join the Catholic Action Network by clicking here in order to stay up-to-date on significant education advocacy issues and easily communicate with the elected officials who represent you in government.

Ongoing Education Agenda

Education Investment Tax Credits: Enact the “Education Investment Incentives Act” to provide tax credits directly to teachers and to spur charitable giving in education; specifically to increase donations to generate additional scholarships for tuition-paying families and for increased support for public schools.

Tuition Tax Credits / Scholarships: Enact a Tuition Tax Credit and/or scholarship program to provide direct and meaningful assistance to help all parents, especially poor parents, with their educational expenses.

Transportation: 1) Increase the maximum distance school districts are required to transport children to school from 15 to 25 miles; 2) ensure that transportation is not denied when public schools are closed or when they make mid-year calendar changes; 3) require small city school districts to transport children up to the maximum mileage limit rather than city limits; and 4) provide 90% reimbursement to school districts for the costs of transporting students to religious and independent schools.

Mandate Reimbursement: Establish a fixed date by which the state shall reimburse religious and independent schools for their mandated expenses and provide sufficient funding to 1) stop the state’s debt to religious and independent schools from growing; 2) reimburse prior-year CAP expenses; 3) reimburse current CAP expenses based on the original CAP formula that reflects actual costs; and 4) to restoration of cuts made to MSR and CAP appropriations in recent years.

Nursing Services: Ensure that all schools have full-time nurses by providing dedicated funds to school districts and requiring districts to provide nurses in every public, independent and religious school.

Health, Safety/Security: Provide funds to ensure that independent and religious schools, like their public school counterparts, can meet the health, safety and security needs (including those related to asbestos, lead, radon, security systems, etc.) of the students, teachers, administrators and staff.

Full Funding for Academic Intervention Services: Provide $20 million to ensure that independent and religious schools can fully comply with the Regents’ Academic Intervention Service (AIS) regulations.

Energy Efficiency: Provide funding and/or incentives to ensure that all schools are energy efficient.

Entry-Level Teacher Support: To ensure all schools have the funding needed to assist all beginning teachers in complying with the Regents’ mentoring requirements needed for their certification and to provide the needed support and skill development for entry-level teachers

Sufficient Resources for Teacher Training: Provide sufficient funding to enable all schools to provide their teachers with quality professional development as well as to comply with the Regents’ continuing education requirements for teachers so that all students will meet the State’s academic standards.

For more information, visit: