A recent article in the Des Moines Register tells the story of a family that escaped the civil war of South Sudan before finding a home in Iowa and enrolling their children in Holy Family Catholic School in Des Moines. The family receives a scholarship thanks to the state’s School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit program. The Anaikur family is grateful to have Holy Family School as their partner as they face the many challenges of settling a young family in a new country. The school reflects their aspirations for their children and they appreciate the relationship they have built with the welcoming Holy Family community.
According to Akar Anaikur, the mother of six, their family’s journey to Holy Family School was possible because of the innovative program that removed obstacles in their path. Access to financial support helped ease the burden of the expense of private programs, programs that even with strong financial management face many challenges as they compete with their publicly-funded partners.
The family’s experience as members of the Holy Family School community is not unique, and illustrates the need to expand the opportunity to more parents through programs such as STOs and proposals for Education Savings Accounts. The circumstances that bring families to schools like Holy Family through financial assistance may not be as dramatic, but the benefit for their students and families is just as substantial.
Parents look to the model of Catholic education for the consistent mission of teaching community, and respecting the needs of students and families. They appreciate the academic and social experience their children gain every day, informed by Catholic teaching and directed by a commitment to realizing the mission of Catholic education. The personal benefit for individual families is extended to a public benefit for neighborhoods, towns and cities as students and graduates make their contribution to the common good.