Those interested in starting a private voucher program from scratch will find many of their questions answered in a new “how-to” training manual from CEO America. An appropriately entitled section of the manual takes the reader through “A Step-By-Step Approach” to this effort, from the early work of defining the program goal and mission statement to the award of the first scholarships. Among the essential steps covered are data gathering, identifying critical local issues, establishing the legal entity, fundraising, data processing, and the announcement.
The newly revised manual is the work of Robert Aguirre, a San Antonio businessman who is managing director of the Children’s Educational Opportunity Foundation in San Antonio, Texas. Aguirre, who also serves on the board of directors of the CEO America Foundation, notes that the manual serves to support CEO America’s mission:
The mission of CEO America is to coordinate the expansion and replication of privately funded voucher programs designed to provide low-income children with greater educational opportunities and promote the public policy debate on school choice through educational activities.
The genesis of the private voucher movement was J. Patrick Rooney’s Educational Choice Charitable Trust in Indianapolis. The new CEO America manual provides a history of the original program and descriptions of three variations on the typical CEO model: the Milwaukee PAVE model, the New York City Lottery model, and the Albany ABC (A Better Choice)/Giffen model.
Each of those adaptations offers a fresh approach to the private voucher program, and creators of new programs are encouraged to select or develop methods that best fit their particular situation.
A brief final section and a series of long appendices are perhaps the most practical portions of the manual, offering a contact list for existing programs and sample documents such as by-laws, IRS 1023 and 990 returns, and student application forms. Together, they provide myriad time- saving tools for future program administrators initiating their own programs.
At the recent national training conference in Bentonville, Arkansas, administrators from existing programs shared their insights on the topics covered in the training manual. Both the training manual and audio cassette tapes from the conference are available from CEO America upon request.
Superintendent: Competition Could Benefit Public Schools
Public schools could benefit from competition, said Indianapolis Public School Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas, speaking at an October 24 fundraising luncheon for the Choice Charitable Trust after she had announced her intention to resign as superintendent. However, Zendejas did not mention vouchers at the event, which was held to raise funds for the private voucher program.
Even though her remarks were cautiously guarded, some parents with children in the Indianapolis Public School system are unhappy that Zendejas participated in the event. “We don’t see that as a dedication to improving the public schools or a commitment to public education,” one parent told Education Week.
African-American Support Mobilized
As school choice options expand, more private schools are needed to fill the growing demand. To that end, the focus of a conference held in San Diego, California, on December 3-4 was to provide guidance to African-American pastors on launching private schools and obtaining the necessary funding. The event aimed at mobilizing support for school choice among African-Americans within the church community and then, in turn, getting business people and parents educated and involved in school choice.
Attendees included some of the leading pastors and bishops from the nation’s largest and most influential African-American churches. The conference, co-sponsored by CEO America and The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, was limited to 50 attendees in hopes of successfully motivating those individuals to organize similar conferences when they return to their home cities and states.
Hosting the “African-American Pastors’ Conference on Urban Education” was Bishop George McKinney of San Diego, a strong voucher proponent who testified in support of the Washington, DC, scholarship proposal last year. Working closely with him in organizing the event was Reverend Bill Owens, a nine-year veteran of fundraising for inner-city African-American high school graduates to attend Christian universities.
Speakers at the event included Reverend Raymond Bryant of Dallas, Texas; Jimmy Mansour, Chairman of CEO America; J. Patrick Rooney, founder of the Educational Choice Charitable Trust in Indianapolis; Dan McKinley, executive director of Partners Advancing Choice in Education; Kevin Teasley, president of the American Education Reform Foundation; and Congressman Floyd Flake, minister of a church in Queens, New York.
CEO America Web Page
CEO America’s revised web page at http://www.ceoamerica.org will unveiled on January 1, 1998.