Baltimore, MD - June 5, 2015 - On Tuesday, the Maryland chapter of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), held its 2015 Spring Breakfast. The annual event, hosted this year at the Weinberg Jewish Community Center in Baltimore, drew an impressive crowd of educators and leaders from across the spectrum of faith-based and independent schools. The event merged together excellent networking and information sharing opportunities along with a chance to interact with Maryland's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian Lowery, several state legislators, and other state education officials. Additionally, the event included the presentation of awards to individuals who have been vital to the success of nonpublic education in Maryland.
The program commenced with words of introduction by Rabbi Larry Ziffer, CEO of the Center for Jewish Education, who served as the event co-host. Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Agudath Israel’s Mid-Atlantic regional director and president of Maryland CAPE, was the event’s chair and welcomed the gathering thanking the many people who traveled from a long distance to attend, especially those who “braved - not one, but two beltways”. In his “State of the CAPE” address, he shared a thought on one of the prevailing themes in Sefer Bamidbar/Book of Numbers - G-d’s repeated counting of the Jewish people, as signifying His great love for each individual. “Each person is a world of its own”, he exclaimed, “and so is each and every child in Maryland. We must do whatever we can to make sure each Maryland child has the best and most appropriate educational options available to him or her, to ensure they will succeed in life and create their own world.”
Mr. Joe McTighe, the national executive director of CAPE was introduced by Maryland CAPE committee member, Mr. P. George Tryfiates of the Association of Christian School International (ACSI). Mr. McTighe talked about the role school choice programs play in areas where the demographics present challenges to many children and families. “Giving parents the ability to choose where they educate their children enables them to be in control of the direction of their lives and how they will end up”, he said.
An extensive legislative report on education issues that were addressed during the recently completed legislative session in Annapolis was delivered by Rabbi Sadwin and Mr. Garrett J. O'Day Esq., of the Maryland Catholic Conference, who also chairs Maryland CAPE’s steering committee. They recounted the highs and lows of the session – much of which revolved around the Maryland Education Credit (BOAST) bill which received unprecedented attention in 2015 due to the emphasis placed by newly elected Governor Larry Hogan on education reform. Other items highlighted in the report included the continued level funding for nonpublic school textbooks and technology purchases and the renewed allocation for nonpublic aging facilities grants, as well as policy modifications that were made to anti-discrimination protocols and upgrades to contracting requirements to ensure student safety.
That was followed by a brief update delivered by Maryland CAPE vice president, Dr. Mary Ellen Hrutka, on the 2015 Summer Institute for teacher certification. This annual event has registered over 600 nonpublic school teachers for the upcoming program who seek to hone their skills to be ready for the upcoming school year.
Next on the agenda was the presentation of the 2015 Civic Achievement Award. Mrs. Zipora Schorr, Director of Education at the Beth Tfiloh Community School was called upon to make the presentation to Mr. Ron Goldblatt, the retiring executive director of AIMS - the Association of Independent Maryland Schools. An attorney by trade, Mr. Goldblatt gave up the practice of law to be an educator. After many years in the classroom, he served as a principal in the independent schools, before becoming the head of the network of Maryland independent schools. Along the way, he served a term as president of Maryland CAPE and maintained an active role in education related legislation. Mrs. Schorr lauded Mr. Goldblatt’s excellent leadership of the independent school network and his deft ability to problem solve in an even-keeled manner.
Rabbi Sadwin then introduced Dr. Lillian Lowery, the State Superintendent of Education to address the gathering. He shared a recent experience with Dr. Lowery having joined her as she made a visit to Bais Yaakov Elementary School to meet and interact with students and staff. She clearly demonstrated a feeling of responsibility to ensure the success of all Maryland children. Dr. Lowery was greeted at the podium by Chana Baila Heyman, Elisheva Prero, Hadassah Schwartz and Ttzippy Goldberg, four Bnos Yisroel of Baltimore juniors who made a special gift presentation to her on behalf of all nonpublic school students across Maryland. Dr. Lowery expressed her appreciation for the work of Maryland CAPE on behalf of the nonpublic schools and the strong relationship it has fostered with MSDE throughout the years, especially notable during the tenure of her predecessor, Dr. Nancy Grasmick. She firmly acknowledged the vital role played by Maryland’s nonpublic schools in giving increased options to the children of Maryland.
The final item of the program was the presentation of the 2015 Champion of Education award. Rev. Curtis Turner, the principal of Saint Francis Academy in Baltimore City was called upon together with Dr. Barbara Edmonson, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to present Senator Nathaniel McFadden with the award. Senator McFadden, a career public school educator and administrator, has served in the Maryland Senate since 1995, and is its current President Pro Tem. He has used his position on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to help secure vital funds for the use of nonpublic schools and to defend the invaluable role of nonpublic education in the state. In accepting his award, the senator shared with the assembled his deep passion for education and working to help all children - regardless of the type of school they attend - receive education benefits from the state. Senator McFadden lamented the failure to pass the Maryland Education Credit bill this year and called upon House Speaker Michael Busch to step up and rally the bill’s opponents in the House to do what’s best for Maryland’s children and allow this bill to pass.
The event was co-sponsored by Catapult Learning, eRate Programs LLC, Smart Tuition, and Connections Learning/Pearson.