Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, is pictured at an organ at the institute in Rome Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)   VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- 'Tis t...

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Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Written by Jack Sheedy
Left, people gather to watch firefighters attack the blaze as it rages near the towers of the cathedral. The roof eventually collapsed after being completely involved in flames. At right, firefighters...

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Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Written by Mary Chalupsky
German Nativity scene by Egon Wolfsgruber is placed inside a barrel with polychrome wood figurines. (Photo courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Museum)  NEW HAVEN – With its ancestral heritage, c...

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Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – On Wednesday, Pope Francis added world famous director Martin Scorsese to the list of Hollywood stars he has welcomed for a private meeting in the Vatican, following a...

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Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
John Slattery and Nathan Lane in “The Front Page” (Photo by Julieta Cervantes)NEW YORK – Because of Nathan Lane’s presence in the cast,  the revival of “The Front Page” has attracted attention an...

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Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Written by Mary Chalupsky
Nicholas Renouf, director of music at St. Mary Church in New Haven or four decades, accompanies the Schola Cantorum during a noon Sunday Mass at St. Mary recently. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky) NEW HAVEN...

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Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Written by Administrator
Campaign photo for the 2016 Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which will take place Dec. 10-11 in most parishes. (Photo by Jim Judkis) WASHINGTON – The annual Retirement Fund for Religious ...

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Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Hark the herald angels: How sacred music evangelizes, lifts up hearts
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Witnesses recall New Year’s Eve cathedral blaze of 60 years ago
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Museum featuring crèches of Germany
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Pope Francis meets Martin Scorsese, director of 'Silence,' at Vatican
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Theater review: ‘The Front Page’
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Sacred music: a St. Mary tradition
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t
Retirement Fund for Religious helps when communities can’t

Latest Commentary

ARCHBISHOP

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I wish all of you a holy Advent and a Christmas...

LOCAL

HARTFORD – Reverend Ivan Dario Ramirez and Reverend Israel Rivera have been incardinated in the Archdiocese of Hartford by Archbishop...

WORLD

Women religious gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, the day the high court heard oral arguments...

ARTS

Gabrielle Union and Colman Domingo star in a scene from the movie "The Birth of a Nation." (CNS photo/Fox) NEW...

FROM OUR READERS

ENFIELD – John Berube, president of the parish council of St. Bernard Parish, thanks Father John P. Melnick, pastor, for...

YOUTH

BRANFORD – More than 300 people attended the 10th annual Archbishop’s Columbus Day Breakfast, held at the WoodWinds this year...

During the waning days of the legislative session, the Connecticut House of Representatives blindly rejected an amendment that would have created a tax credit for corporations that donate to scholarship programs. This is the first school choice vote considered by the Connecticut General Assembly in 18 years.

The amendment, which was offered by Rep. Christopher Coutu (R-Norwich), failed mostly along party lines by a 98 to 44 vote (Republicans favored the proposal). The proposal was co-sponsored by almost 50 members of the House and Senate. Adding to the disappointment was the fact that some members of the House changed their votes at the last minute, voting against the measure when it appeared the proposal would fail.

The amendment was offered on S.B. 438, An Act Concerning Charter Schools, which contained provisions to change parental involvement in failing public schools and would have created significant changes to state education laws by setting higher standards for student and teacher achievement. All of this was done in the slim hope of Connecticut’s receiving federal money in the second round of the United States Department of Education’s Race to the Top funding. The reforms implemented for Race to the Top could cost the taxpayers of Connecticut between $13 and $20 million. During the first round of Race to the Top grants, only two states were provided grants and Connecticut’s application wasn’t even named in the group of Round 1 finalists.

The proposed amendment would have created a pilot program allowing "C" corporations and other companies to donate money to a scholarship fund. The program would have provided tuition assistance to students seeking to attend a private or religious school. There would have been a statewide cap of $500,000 for the tax credits. Donations would have been capped at $50,000 and the donor business would have received a 70 percent tax credit.

Scholarships would have been granted to children whose family income does not exceed 250 percent of the income requirements of the federal poverty line. (A family of four would need an income of less than $55,125 per year.) Only students entering kindergarten or transferring to a private or religious school would be eligible for the scholarship. Scholarships to attend a private or religious school could not exceed $2,500, or 60 percent of tuition.

Residents from the following cities and towns would have been eligible for the scholarship: Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Hartford, Hamden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, New London and Waterbury.

The expenses for this program would have been covered by using $500,000 from the taxpayer-funded mailing program used by members of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Seven states – Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – allow a tax credit for corporations which donate to a scholarship fund. In these seven states, a tax credit program allowed more than 75,000 students to attend a private or religious school, with more than $188 million being provided in scholarship funds in 2009. Many of these states also qualified to compete in the first round of Race to the Top grants.

It should be noted that private and religious schools in Connecticut save the taxpayers more than $700 million a year. However, during the past 10 years, 20 private and religious schools have closed, and attendance has declined by 8,000 students. This influx of students into our public schools has placed an enormous financial burden on our local municipalities and costs Connecticut taxpayers as much as $120 million.

Approximately 2,000 teaching jobs are set to be eliminated in June across the state. Additionally, eight private or religious schools have closed in the past two years. This will lead to overcrowding of public schools and it is another issue that will impact Connecticut’s education system.

The proposal would not only have provided the opportunity for more inner-city youth to attend a quality school, it would have relieved a burden placed on many public schools. That is why so many inner-city mayors support this plan, including the mayors of Bridgeport, New Britain, New Haven and Waterbury.

The Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents has been actively pursuing this issue as part of its legislative agenda for the past three years and we have made significant progress. We look forward to working with a new governor and legislature in 2011.

If you would like to see how your representative voted, please visit the Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents’ Web site at www.ctfcsp.org.

John L. Cattelan is the director of the Connecticut Federation of Catholic School Parents.