Archive for March, 2011

Coach Hurley Talks Basketball and Education on 60 Minutes

Last night’s 60 Minutes featured this inspirational piece on Coach Bob Hurley, the highly successful basketball coach at St. Anthony’s School in Jersey City. For almost 40 years, Hurley has passed up college basketball coaching job offers and remained a stellar coach and role model to the mainly low-income boys on his team.

One of the most impressive moments in the piece is Coach Hurley’s answer when asked about his proudest accomplishments. The man who coached five first-round NBA draft picks, who is only the third high school coach to be inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and whose team just won a national championship, instead focuses on the value of education in his answer.

“I’ve only had two kids in 39 years that have not gone to college. And we’re extremely proud of that, because we think that we’ve opened up doors in kids’ lives that they didn’t know that they could do. Their families certainly didn’t know that they could do it. And it’s because of education, it changes the direction of their life,” Hurley said.

Upcoming School Choice Conference in Berkeley

If you are heading to the Bay Area, mark your calendar for Friday, April 1st. The American Center for School Choice (ACSC) is hosting a one-day conference at UC-Berkeley to explore the role of faith-based schools in the school choice debate.

CSF President Darla Romfo will be among the conference speakers. Other speakers include: Dr. Mary McDonald of the Diocese of Memphis; Former California State Senator Gloria Romero of Democrats for Education Reform; Professor Joseph Viteritti of Hunter College, and Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute.

From the AMSC website:

The April 1 sessions will update the basis for public support for families to choose faith-based schools. All the major denominations, Catholic, Evangelical, Main line Protestant, Jewish and Muslim schools, will be represented to discuss how best to build on current programs and create new ones. The conference will examine how these schools can continue to serve low-income families in urban areas where historically they have played a strong role. The political sessions will analyze the best opportunities for passing new legislation and expanding current programs as well as what operational limitations would be unacceptable to the schools. In addition, experts will evaluate the legal constraints, such as states’ Blaine amendments, and the possibilities for challenges and/or changes to them.”

The event is sure to be a worthwhile exploration of the ongoing question of how we can make better educational options available to all. Find out more at the American Center for School Choice website.

Letter from CSF President: Charter Schools Are Not the Only Choice

by Darla Romfo

One day last week I had the privilege of taking a CSF donor to a school where we are helping 99 children with scholarships. On the same day I appeared on a panel with two leaders from high-performing charter schools with many locations in New York City.

Mt. Carmel Holy Rosary (MCHR) – where our donor gave a rousing pep talk to the 8th grade class – is a special place. While 98% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 100% of the 4th grade class passed their state exams in math and English Language Arts (ELA) with subject proficiency and 96.2% of 8th graders passed with proficiency in ELA and 88.5% of the 8th graders passed with proficiency in math.  This is more than double the average rate for the public and charter schools in the same district.

What’s even more amazing is that the cost to educate per student at MCHR is $6,300 while public schools receive $21,543 per student per year and charters receive $13,653. But since the families at MCHR have to pay tuition, which is a real stretch, there are 37 empty seats – seats that could be saving children now from the low-performing neighborhood schools.

Fast forward to the evening when I appeared on the panel. Someone in the audience who saw the panel e-mailed me afterwards and said the following, “My only concern is that the other panelists (and attendees) seemed to find it easy to focus exclusively on charters…but you were able to keep reminding them that’s not the only solution. I think some kind of campaign around the empty seats [at private schools] right now could be pretty powerful.”

He’s right. We can’t just focus on charters as the only solution. For example, in the past ten years 55,000 charter seats have come on line in New York but we have lost 57,000 private seats. So the net result is that overall we aren’t any further ahead than we were ten years ago in terms of creating high-quality educational options.

There are thousands of empty seats in higher-quality private and parochial schools around the country. For the children whose lives could be saved by making this choice, the only two things standing in the way of attending them are money and politics. We need to work on getting greater access to publicly-funded choice, but in the meantime we must continue to raise the funds privately to help as many children as possible.

CSF Philadelphia’s Lottery Day Celebration

CSF Philadelphia Executive Director Ina Lipman calls a lucky Philadelphia family with the good news.

Getting a phone call from a stranger is often associated with those unsolicited sales calls you try to avoid. But imagine getting a call from someone you never met before telling you that your child has won a scholarship to a private school?

That’s what happened earlier this week when CSF Philadelphia held its first Lottery Day Celebration. Volunteers and staffers gathered at the offices of Boenning and Scattergood to congratulate families who will be able to enroll their children in private school this fall with CSF Philadelphia scholarships.

This year, more than 2,700 children are using CSF Philadelphia scholarships. You can check out more photos from the day at the CSF Philadelphia website.

Members Project Update

After twelve weeks of voting, the results of the Members Project contest have been announced. Children’s Scholarship Fund came in second out of ten behind A Better Chance, which took the prize in the Education category. Unfortunately, there’s no prize for second place!

The winning charities in other categories were: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Kiva.org, Defenders of Wildlife, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

CSF is extremely grateful to all of you who voted loyally every week and spread the word to friends and family. Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness.

This work is so important. Every one of the almost 26,500 CSF Scholars this year is on the path to a better future because of the education they are getting today. We couldn’t do it without our supporters!