The very next day CAPE testified before the Subcommittee on Education of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. The subject was federal aid for nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.
The vision of the founders has been translated into forty years of vigorous activity on behalf of the private schools of the country. Today CAPE is comprised of 22 national organizations serving private elementary and secondary schools. Member organizations are non-profit and subscribe to a policy of non-discrimination in their admission policies. There are currently 38 state CAPE affiliates which strengthen the coalition throughout the country.
The CAPE member organizations and their schools are different from one another: they are religious and non-religious, urban and rural, small and large. However, there are many similarities: all of the schools serve diverse populations; they have a strong sense of mission and purpose which is clearly defined; the schools provide a climate which supports the individual and provides a safe community in which adults and children are able to learn; teachers are valued for their professional expertise and values are part of all aspects of school life. Out of the differences among private schools comes a need to affirm the similarities with a strong advocacy.
In 1993 CAPE inaugurated the CAPE Education Leadership Award which was presented for several years for outstanding contributions to education. However, these were not the first awards presented by CAPE. There were three awards given in 1974-76 for “Distinguished Service to American Education.” The Rev. C. Albert Koob, President of NCEA and one of the CAPE founders was the first recipient. Another was Otto Kraushaar, and the third was Cary Potter, also a founding member.
Cary Potter, in remarks made at the awards luncheon on June 14, 1974, in honor of Rev. Koob reflected on private education: ” We often talk about the fact that the private school is too little understood. I suspect that what we really ought to be saying is that it is the public nature of the private school that is too little understood, certainly in the public at large.” Potter goes on to identify what he means by “public nature”. He says we are responsible to the public through its duly constituted governing authorities:
“But we are responsible to the public in other ways, equally, if not more, important, and a principal one is the quality of the way we serve. For that we are clearly responsible to that portion of the public whom we serve directly as students and parents. Further, we are clearly responsible to the profession of education, to its ideals, to the maintenance of its standards, to its growth and development and improvement; we have the obligation to share, to learn, in short to serve and contribute to the advancement of education. Finally, we have a special responsibility to this kind of pluralistic society because we represent one among many kinds of voluntary institutions that are critical to its nature…”
We salute the founders of CAPE, the many former board members, and the former executive directors who have served the organization so well. CAPE’s mission as defined by the founders, of a coherent private school voice, remains the same and is even more relevant today. Private schools contribute to the public good and must be included in the debate on the future of education in America. Their very existence helps fulfill the American ideal of pluralism. We pledge to continue to build on that strong foundation.