Young advocates attend a School Choice Rally in January 2020 at the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. MEL WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY


LAUREN GARCIA: Parents know best

Growing up, my siblings and I knew that our parents really wanted us to get a good education. Our job was to study hard, get good grades, and make sure nothing got in the way of our academic success. Plus, our mom was a teacher at our school, so she made sure nothing got in the way.

If she ever got wind that we were bullied by classmates or treated unfairly by a teacher or coach, everyone better watch out! When it came to our schooling, she was a fearless advocate for us.

While my siblings and I look back on these stories and laugh, we know she gave us a great gift and example of a parent’s love for her children. She would do anything for us, especially when it came to our success.

Advocating for school choice in Nebraska, I have heard stories from many parents who are willing to go to great lengths for their children’s education. They want a better school for their kids, but they simply do not have the means to afford it.

Thankfully, scholarships like the ones that would be established by LB364, the Opportunity Scholarships Act, helped make their dreams possible. On March 24, this bill was advanced by the Revenue Committee and now will be debated by the entire Legislature.

Several years ago, Macaria, a single mother of five children, shared her story with us. She worked hard and saved as much as she good, but still could not afford to send her kids to private school.

“I wanted my children to attend private schools because they have a great education and teach things like respect, discipline and morality,” Macaria said.

Thanks to the help of scholarships, she was able to enroll all five of her children in Omaha Catholic schools. Now Macaria can rest assured that the teachers at her children’s schools pay close attention to them and give them the care they need in their education. She’s also grateful that her children hear about God and the Catholic faith at school, just like they do at home.

The opportunity her family received has changed their lives: “The future looks nice today because I can see my children attending college. I thank (generous donors) for the support that is given to us with the scholarships, because in our situation, attending a private school would be impossible – just a dream.”

It was once just a dream for young Maximo’s parents, too. But thanks to scholarship funds awarded to Maximo and his siblings, he was able to attend Catholic grade school and high school. Even as a teenager, Maximo recognizes the hard work and sacrifice of his parents and their commitment to his education.

“School choice gave my family the freedom to choose a school that not only fit me, but my siblings as well,” he said at a School Choice Week Rally at the Nebraska Capitol. “My education has given me confidence in my future, and I’ll never forget the help my family has received.”

And if he ever thought about slacking off in school, his parents would surely remind him: “If we would have had this opportunity to choose a school like yours, we could have accomplished so much.”

So many more parents just like Macaria and Maximo’s dream of someday being able to choose and afford a different path for their children. LB364 can make these dreams a reality for countless parents and kids in our state.

Parents know that every child learns differently and finding a good educational fit can make a world of difference. Families with financial means can move to a better school district or afford a private education, but not all families are so fortunate. These families deserve to have educational choices too, no matter their income or zip code.

It is so important that you call or email your state senator today and urge them to support LB364, and then tell your friends and family to do the same. We are so close to giving low-income families opportunities they can now only dream of, and you can help make it happen!

For more information about LB364 and school choice, visit or

Lauren Garcia is communications and outreach specialist for the Nebraska Catholic Conference.

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