Iowa ACE

Ella Schulte, News Writer

“Every child, every child should have the ability to attend a school that’s the right fit for them, no matter what their zip code is, no matter what their financial circumstances are,” Director of School Choice Efforts John Elcesser said. “School choice provides that opportunity in its many different kinds of vehicles.”

Xavier High School’s Regis-LaSalle Auditorium welcomed Elcesser on Wednesday, September 19 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. to speak and elaborate on the importance of school choice.

Iowa ACE, also known as the Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education, is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to finding ways for all
families in Iowa to have access to equal admission and affordable education for their children.

Elcesser is an eminent advocate, as well as the Director of School Choice Efforts in Indiana, a state that is home to one of the most prosperous school choice programs in the United States. He has spent time capitalizing on the importance of both the professional and personal aspects of his career. Alongside serving as a principal and school superintendent, his two internationally adopted children, Zach and Anna, have helped shape his passion into the profession it is today.

More specifically, this means that regardless of whether the correct fit for a student is a public or a parochial school, Iowa ACE is willing to provide personal assistance and financial aid to those from all differing backgrounds and incomes.

Iowa ACE also works in close contact with the Iowa Catholic Conference, a group committed to promoting Catholic education.

Together these programs have two notable pushes; the first being an education savings account, where the state designates money to families who choose non-public education. This funding then goes towards tuition or resources such as textbooks.

The second push being school tuition organizations, where donors make a contribution and receive a tax credit before the money goes into a pool used to supply financial aid to families who choose to attend non-public schools.

“Xavier is currently made up of around 38 percent of high school age Catholic students in the Cedar Rapids area, while the other approximately 62 percent of Catholic teenagers go to public schools,” Xavier President Tom Keating said. “If we had the opportunity to have parents be able to afford Xavier, or any nearby Catholic school, the number of students who might be able to attend, and whom we might be able to better serve, would grow dramatically.”

Xavier’s mission, to develop the total person in a Catholic environment, benefits greatly because of these organizations.
In addition, this purpose extends to the lyrics of a familiar church hymn, which states, “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions. All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”

Speaker John Elcesser addresses the community on the importance of school choice. Taylor Scallon Photo.