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The following was a speech prepared to be delivered at Tuesday’s public hearing on the Education Savings Accounts proposal. However, it was not able to be heard.

Good evening. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak before you all today. Me llamo Analicia Marie Puentes Gomes (Puentes-being my maiden name).

I am the product of a public-school primary education and a graduate of Saint Ambrose University with a degree in Elementary Education with a Reading K-6 endorsement. I am married to a veteran and the mother of 5 amazingly unique and smart daughters ages: 11, 9, 7, 5 and 3. And while you all are thinking…my poor husband…please know that we are beyond thankful for these five incredible blessings from above.

During my time as an educator, I taught in both the private and public sectors. I stepped away about 9 years ago when my 2nd daughter was born, and childcare became increasingly difficult AND expensive. There was a huge adjustment to being a one-income household as we continued to grow our family, but we have made it work. As my oldest was approaching kindergarten, we found it indescribably imperative to live in a community where the best public schools were within our grasp. We moved to Bettendorf because of that very need.

Fast forward a couple years and it seems the education system has course-corrected in a direction unrecognizable from what it once was…from an emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic to one of political agendas and activism. Our 6th-grade honors students are being asked to write essays with topics like “As I lay here dying” rather than what are my dreams and aspirations.

When we have concerns about policies coming from the IASB to our area we are met with board directors going out of their way to attack us on every platform they can. And when we take those concerns to the Iowa Dept of Education…we are met with statements like: did you know you can open enroll? Not, how can we help?

ESA’s give families the freedom to make the decision as to where their children are educated which was once only a privilege of the elite. Placing the focus BACK on our Children…the ones with whom the focus should have been on all along. ESA’s can also help start co-ops and even support homeschooling families.

What parents are asking for is not a new concept in Iowa. School choice has proven to be quite effective with the 4-year-old program throughout this state already. The public schools do not have to fight for enough students…and all programs are equally successful. Shouldn’t we show our children that we are committed to their success and its lack of limitation as to whom can afford it? The time has come to change the trajectory of educational opportunities for our children…it’s time for school choice for ALL.



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