North Dakota Passes First Ever School Choice Legislation

schoolchoice.001For the first time ever, the North Dakota legislature has passed legislation furthering parental choice in education.

SB 2151 provides some funding for low-income parents who voluntarily choose to enroll their child in a qualified pre-K education program.  The money would “follow the child” so that a parent can choose a nonpublic, including religious-affiliated, school.

On Wednesday the House passed the measure 50-41.  Today, the Senate concurred with the House amendments and gave final approval to the bill.  Governor Dalrymple supported the proposal in his budget address and is, therefore, expected to sign the bill.

Confusion About Private and Religious Schools in ESEA Reauthorization

cathschThe U.S. House of Representatives is working on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Recently an erroneous blog post generated confusion and fear that the bill would threaten religious nonpublic schools.

The USCCB Secretariat of Education wants Catholics to know that the claims are not true.  Go here to find out more about it and what you can do to help.

Action Alert: Parental Choice Bills

The House will soon vote on two important parental education choice bills.

  • HB 1254 would provide a tax deduction to help cover the expenses of tuition and books for parents with children in nonpublic schools.
  • HB 1462 would expand the corporate tax credit for contributions to private educational institutions.

Contact your House representatives and ask them to support House Bills 1254 and 1462.

When: Now. The House could vote on the bill as early as Wednesday.

Where: North Dakota House of Representatives

How: The legislature’s email system is the best way at this time.

Message: Please vote Yes on HB 1254 and HB 1462.  Parents should be able to choose the best educational setting for their children.  These bills will help all parents exercise that choice.


Rep. Dosch’s Testimony on Parental Choice Bills

Representative Mark Dosch is the prime sponsor on House Bills 1254 and 1355.  He has shared his testimony with us.

doschHB 1254-Parents Choice Tax Credit

Make a Difference: Support Parental Choice Legislation

The Norcsw_15_fullcolor_pngth Dakota House is considering two parental choice bills.

HB 1254 would provide a tax credit to help cover the expenses of tuition and books for parents with children in nonpublic schools.

HB 1355 would provide a tax credit to corporations that contribute to an endowment that provides scholarship opportunities for low income students to attend a nonpublic school.

Please contact the House Finance and Tax Committee members and House Majority Leader Al Carlson and express your support for HB 1254 and HB 1355.

Al Carlson
Craig Headland
Mark Owens
Jason Dockter
Glen Froseth
Jessica Haak
Patrick Hatlestad
Tom Kading
Matthew Klein
Alisa Mitskog
Vicky Steiner
Mary Schneider
Marie Strinden
Nathan Toman
Wayne Trottier

Download a flyer to handout at Catholic Schools Week events!

Action Alert: Contact House Tax and Finance Committee

The House Finance and Tax Committee will decide whether to give a favorable recommendation to two important bills.

HB 1278, which was heard by the committee today, would provide a sales tax exemption to charitable and religious organizations.  This exemption would help charitable and religious organizations better serve the public by giving them some tax relief.

Who: House Finance and Tax Committee Members (See below)

Message: Please give a Do Pass recommendation to HB 1278, which would give a sales tax exemption to charitable and religious organizations so that they can be better serve the people of North Dakota.

When: Now.  The committee could make a recommendation any day now.

HB 1254, which has not been heard, would provide a tax credit for books and tuition for children in nonpublic schools. This credit would help relieve the burden of parents who exercise their right to choose a non-government school for their child’s education.

Who: House Finance and Tax Committee Members (See below)

Message: Please give a Do Pass recommendation to HB 1245 to give a reasonable tax credit to relieve the expenses of parents with children in nonpublic schools.

When: Within the next week.

House Finance and Tax Committee Members:

Chairman Craig Headland

Vice Chair Mark Owens

Jason Docter

Glen Froseth

Patrick Hatlestad

Tom Kading

Matthew Klein

Vicky Steiner

Nathan Toman

Wayne Trottier

CMA Student Section forming at UND School of Medicine!!


Thanks to the efforts of Catholic UND medical students a new official school recognized Student Section of the Catholic Medical Association is being formed at UND. The first gathering took place Jan 15 with 18 attendees: 13 medical students, 3 physical therapy students, and 2 significant others. A survey was done, and the students are interested in spiritual support followed by intellectual and social gatherings. There were requests for service opportunities as well.

The group met Friday Jan 31 for Holy Hour at St. Anne’s Guest Home followed by a social at a local pub. The next gathering will be on Sat AM Feb 8 at St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center watching the CMA Student Boot Camp DVD to help spread the word about this opportunity available summer 2014.

 The Fargo CMA plans to meet and extend our support for the Student Section of the CMA. If there are any physicians who have a desire to help with this effort please let me know. We are considering setting up a mentoring program. The Student Section is currently seeking speakers on various topics. Please contact Walter Johnson or John Emmel.

Catholic Schools Week to be Observed in Dioceses Across the Country, January 26-February 1

cathschNational Catholic Schools Week 2014 will be observed in dioceses around the country January 26 – February 1. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” focuses on the principles of a Catholic education.

“Our schools have educated millions of young people over the years by providing them a superior academic background, always pointing the way to eternal life,” said Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Education. “The success of Catholic schools in handing on the faith, generation after generation, is a bright light in the history of the Church in the United States.”

About 2.1 million students are currently educated in more than 6,600 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an excellent, faith-filled education that prepares them for the challenges of higher education and a competitive world. An estimated 99 percent of students graduate from high school and 85 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college.

“The heart of the apostolate of Catholic education is the mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools provide a rich environment of faith and learning where students experience how much God loves them in Christ. They are free to express their own love for God in prayer and the celebration of the sacraments and to express love of neighbor in a community where each is respected as a gift from God,” Archbishop Lucas said. “Our students hear Jesus inviting them to be his followers and friends, and they learn how to respond to him with generosity and faith.”

The observance of Catholic Schools Week began in 1974. This year marks the 40th anniversary of this annual event. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and pot luck gatherings to celebrate the community they represent.

More information on the Committee on Catholic Education is available online:

Attempt to Repeal Blaine Amendment Fails by One Vote

The North Dakota House of Representatives voted on HCR 3037.  The measure would allowed the voters of North Dakota to decide whether to remove prejudicial language rooted in anti-Catholicism from the state’s constitution.

The measure failed by a tied 47 – 47 vote.

Contrary to some claims made by opponents, approval of the measure would not have mandated funding for religious schools.  Nor is removal of the language necessary before the legislature could support parental choice.  It merely would have removed the prejudicial language and returned the issue to the people.

Conference Testifies – Give Voters the Opportunity to Repeal Blaine Amendment

The North Dakota Catholic Conference provided written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in support of HCR 3037.

Noting its anti-Catholic origins, its current prejudicial interpretation, and the fact that the provision was imposed upon the people of North Dakota as a condition for statehood, the conference stated: “HCR 3037 would give North Dakota voters an opportunity to remove a shameful blemish from our state’s constitution and give the people of North Dakota the right to decide for themselves questions related to public education and nonpublic schools.”

Read the full testimony here: