ST. PAUL, MINN (February 28, 2012)—Nonpublic school educators, students, and parent advocates will descend onto the Minnesota Capitol February 29 for the third annual MN Nonpublic Schools’ Day at the Capitol.
The day will provide attendees an opportunity to learn about current legislation affecting nonpublic education, rally for more school choice options for Minnesota students, and lobby their representatives and senators. It is hosted by the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) in partnership with the Minnesota Council for American Private Education (CAPE) and the Minnesota Independent School Forum.
This is the first MN Nonpublic Schools’ Day at the Capitol that parents are encouraged to attend along with nonpublic school students and educators. “After coming close last session, we think this is the year to get school choice legislation passed and to do this we need to educate and empower parents to make their voices heard,” said Pete Noll, education director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference. “We hope that by encouraging parents to advocate for their children at the state level, more kids will ultimately be able to access the educational environments, whether nonpublic or otherwise, that best serve their needs.”
An afternoon rally by nonpublic school students and proponents of current school choice legislative proposals will highlight the day. “The legislative day provides an opportunity for us to share with legislators some real-life situations that we face in meeting the educational needs of our children,” said Cynthia Zook, superintendent of Duluth Area Catholic Schools. “It’s a great way to learn how public policy can be used as a tool for serving and supporting our students better.”
Before the rally event, participants will learn about key education-related legislative proposals. The focus will be on the Equity and Opportunity in Education tax credit program, which would allow corporate and individual taxpayers to give money to a scholarship-granting organization for students attending nonpublic schools.
Other proposals discussed will include the scholarship, or voucher, program that would give students in under-performing schools the opportunity to attend the school of their choice, and a state income tax deduction and credit expansion that would help low-income families cover education-related expenses.
More than 75,000 children in Minnesota currently attend nonpublic schools, and many other Minnesota families want educational options that better meet their needs. “State education funding should, foremost, support the education needs of our kids, not persistently low-performing schools. Providing more school choice is fair, child-centered education reform,” said Noll.
MCC will continue efforts to build its new Parent Advocacy Network after the event. For a MN Nonpublic Schools’ Day at the Capitol schedule, event registration details, or to join the new Parent Advocacy Network, visit the MCC website Education page (mncc.org/issues/education).