I am the oldest of five children, and faith has always been the center point of our home. My family has always tried to put God first in our lives, from praying before dinner to regular church attendance. So when it came to choosing high schools, I pleaded with my parents to send me to Dowling Catholic High School because I felt that was the place that allowed me to serve the Lord and my community. However, my parents explained that sending me, much less four other kids, to private school was a substantial financial commitment. I didn’t take no for an answer, so I looked for scholarships for private high schools, and as one might imagine, they are few and far between.

Fortunately, I had worked hard in middle school and put together a strong resume that helped me win the Home & School Association scholarship. Earning that scholarship was a good start, but that was not nearly enough to cover even one year of private school. My parents, however, agreed that they would find a way to send me to Dowling Catholic. We researched and applied for the Catholic Tuition Organization’s program and utilized education-related tax credits available here in Iowa, which further helped make my education possible.

At Dowling Catholic, I participated in many activities, including football, student government, Student Philanthropy Council, and a men’s faith group that still meets today. The most impactful group I joined was the Speech and Debate team. Most public high schools in my area didn’t offer Speech and Debate, so I wouldn’t have been able to participate if it weren’t for private school. I enjoyed the activity and won four state titles during high school. This success earned me the “Academic All-American” title and a partial debate scholarship to college. Since then, I have become active in politics and am currently working on a gubernatorial campaign.

I owe where I am today to the support programs and scholarships available in my state, but I recognize for most kids, that is not enough to make private education possible. I look forward to being part of the effort to provide more school options for all children in the state of Iowa and our country.

Being at a school with diverse students exposed me to the challenges of getting all children a quality education. There are high-quality, safe public schools in my family’s neighborhood. I quickly learned that many of my peers at my catholic high school did not have the same strong public school options that I had. It seems wrong that where you were born means, you may be stuck in poor schools.

In my first year at Dowling Catholic, I was elected president of my class and regularly asked my peers about what would make the school better. My classmates had many opinions on what would make a great school. I learned fast that a “one size fits all” plan wouldn’t work. I can’t imagine applying the same logic to a child’s education. Private and charter schools were created to fill the gaps that public education could not fill. Public schools can be effective at teaching students. However, they aren’t effective at teaching every student. I believe that students should attend the school that best fits their needs, and their zip code shouldn’t stand in the way.

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