Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
A mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition at a hospital Jan. 20 in Juba, South Sudan. South Sudan's Catholic bishops asked for the world's help to p...

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Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Representatives from small groups give the final message from the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements Feb. 19 in Modesto, Calif. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski) MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Affi...

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Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Pope Francis greets a new priest during the ordination Mass of 11 priests in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 17, 2016. The pope warned against using the church in pursuit of personal ambitio...

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Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Pope Francis delivers his blessing to an overflow crowd gathered outside St. Mary Josefa Church after celebrating Mass at the parish in Rome Feb. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) ROME (CNS) -- A practica...

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Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Written by Shelley Wolf
Alicia Fleming, sales assistant for the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, laughs with a client while serving desserts at the South Park Inn in Hartford.(Photo by Shelley Wolf) ...

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Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says
Pope receives a stuffed animal from a participant in the Special Olympics during a meeting Feb. 16 at the Vatican. The Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in Austria March 14-25. (CNS pho...

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South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
South Sudan bishops condemn atrocities, appeal for help to prevent famine
Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Grass-roots leaders join call for 'disrupting' oppression that hurts many
Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Be ashamed when tempted to use church for power struggles, pope says
Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Pope's tip for becoming a saint: Pray for someone who doesn't like you
Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Employees of archdiocese volunteer to bring meals and good cheer to the homeless
Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says
Special Olympians show world that 'every person is a gift,' pope says

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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.

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