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Hundreds of Iowa students gathered at the capitol in March to thank legislators for the bi-partisan effort that is helping parents gain access to education programs best suited to the needs of their students.

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The 2016 Education Celebration was hosted by Iowa ACE, the Alliance for Choice in Education, a group formed in 2008 to advocate for Iowa parents, students and educators. This year’s event had a special focus—commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Education Opportunities Act, landmark legislation that created tuition assistance programs for parents to expand education choices for their students.

In the 10 years since their creation, Student Tuition Organizations, or STO’s, have created benefits across the board. They have helped Catholic schools maintain the vibrant education communities that serve families and created options for parents where none existed before. Through the leadership of Iowa ACE, the statewide STO program has brought out the best in collaboration and shared commitment among non-public schools that now work together to empower parents and create opportunities for choice.

The Iowa Catholic Conference congratulates Iowa ACE and the STO participants that have created such a successful program. We also appreciate the efforts of the legislators and advocates who will continue to advance the needs of students by expandingEd Celebration - t-shirts IMG_1264 options for their parents. As partners in our state’s commitment to education, Catholic schools will work toward strengthening our current programs while supporting new ones that provide even more equitable access for all Iowa families.