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Lower School News

New 'Substantial Equivalency' Rules Threaten Private School Autonomy

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has proposed updated legislation which would transfer oversight of nonpublic schools to public districts and school boards. In response, Iona Prep is asking its more than 20,000 alumni, current parents and friends to write to the NYSED and voting state regents, letting them know why oversight of religious and private schools should remain the purview of their respective boards.

Since 1895, New York State Education Law has required that a "substantially equivalent" education be offered to all youth of compulsory age. Educational discrepancy issues over the last half decade in New York City has led the state to try and ensure educational equivalency through a new review process.

The single most important component of these proposed regulations is the oversight of nonpublic schools by their local public school district. This presents a clear conflict of interest. An Iona Preparatory education is not just equivalent, but far more substantial than its public and private competitors. It would be unfair to ask the public schools to then rate the "quality" of its programs.

While Iona Preparatory Upper School would be exempt from this proposed oversight, having been previously vetted by the state in order to administer Regents exams, some of its counterparts are not as fortunate. Therefore, the school is asking all alumni, parents and friends of Catholic education to click the link below and email the NYSED Board of Regents. Please take the time to personalize this email, taking care to note your hometown and district of residence, as well as your affiliation with Iona Preparatory and other private schools.

A 60-day comment period commenced on July 3; now, through Sept. 2, Iona Prep and other private schools must once again fight for their collective independence on matters of curriculum and instruction.

NOTE: If you are doing this from your phone, you may get an "Invalid Address" pop-up warning like the one pictured; please click "Send" and it will go through. You should receive an automatic reply from the NYSED within minutes of sending.

Source: New York State Education Department