School Choice & Charters

Most Private Schools Forgo Federal Services

By Sean Cavanagh — September 13, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A majority of the nation’s private schools do not use federally funded services they are entitled to receive under the No Child Left Behind Act or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a study released last week shows.

Just 44 percent of private schools have a student, teacher, or parent participating in programs financed under the No Child Left Behind law, even though 12 major federal programs covered by that law require public school districts to offer services to private schools, according to the report.

Similarly, only 43 percent of private schools had any students receiving services under the IDEA, according to the study issued Sept. 11 by the U.S. Department of Education and conducted by the Urban Institute, in Washington, which does research on various social and economic issues.

Of the private schools surveyed in the study that were not using any federal educational services, 58 percent indicated that they freely decided not to take take part in the programs offered through the NCLB law, which Congress originally passed in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and which lawmakers are now working to reauthorize.

Meanwhile, officials of 40 percent of the nonparticipating private schools said they did not know they were eligible to receive those services under NCLB.

“Most schools are making a choice not to participate, but [among others], … it could be a matter of outreach,” said Gayle S. Christensen, a research associate at the Urban Institute and the study’s lead author.

Role of High Court Cases

The number of U.S. private school students participating in the Title I compensatory education program under NCLB actually rose slightly in recent years, from 183,900 in the 1999-2000 school year to 191,100 in 2005-06, the most recent year studied. About 3 percent of private schools nationwide took part in Title I.

Since 1979-80, the first year recorded in the study, participation in Title I by private school students reached a peak of 213,500 in 1980-81, then fell in the mid-1980s.

Ms. Christensen said the decline may have been partly the result of a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court decision, in Aguilar v. Felton, that barred public school personnel from delivering Title I services on the premises of religious schools. Districts and religious schools had to come up with alternatives, such as using neutral sites, that complicated the provision of such services.

The high court overruled that precedent in a 1997 decision, in Agostini v. Felton, that once again allowed public school Title I teachers into religious schools.

The 1994 reauthorization of the ESEA and the 5½-year-old No Child Left Behind law both increased private school students’ eligibility for Title I services, such as by requiring consultations between public and private school officials.

The exception to low levels of private school participation in federal programs was Roman Catholic schools. Among nonpublic schools, they had the highest participation in NCLB-funded services, with 80 percent reporting having participated in 2004-05. Only 28 percent of private schools with other religious affiliations made use of such services that school year, and 25 percent of nonreligious schools did so.

Amy B. Sechler, the director of legislative affairs for the National Association of Independent Schools, said many private school officials had a “general philosophical objection” to using federal services, worrying that such participation brings increased government regulation. Her Washington-based group, which represents 1,300 mostly nonreligious private schools, nonetheless tries to make its members aware of federal programs that can benefit students.

“We try to leave it up to the schools and their boards of trustees,” Ms. Sechler said.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Why Jay-Z Is a Key Figure in the School Voucher Debate
Jay-Z's backing of school vouchers in Pennsylvania has public education advocates worried it will divert funds.
6 min read
Jay-Z arrives at the premiere of "The Book of Clarence" on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Jay-Z is putting his weight behind an effort to fund private school vouchers in Philadelphia. The entertainment mogul’s Roc Nation announced it is funding a campaign in June 2024 to drum up support for the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success.
Jay-Z arrives at the premiere of "The Book of Clarence" on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Jay-Z is putting his weight behind an effort to fund private school vouchers in Philadelphia. The entertainment mogul’s Roc Nation announced it is funding an outreach campaign to drum up support for the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success.
Richard Shotwell/Invision via AP
School Choice & Charters Video Private School Choice: A Video Explainer
We're tracking the proliferation of school choice policies around the country. Here's how to get up to speed.
2 min read
School Choice & Charters Opinion What Would Religious Charter Schools Mean for Public Education?
Discriminating and proselytizing on the taxpayer dime will never be acceptable, writes Kevin G. Welner.
Kevin G. Welner
5 min read
A green apple with a cross shaped stem in between red apples.
Richard Mia for Education Week
School Choice & Charters Private School Choice Continues to Spread. 3 Things to Know
New research shows private schools increase tuition when states send public funds for parents to spend on private education.
6 min read
Image of private school kids outside in the school yard.
E+