Hispanic advocacy group started

Anne Marie Amacher
Eighth-grader Mia Combs helps kindergartner Marco Lopez with a project at All Saints Catholic School in Davenport in this file photo.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

Trish Wilger of Iowa Alliance for Choice in Education (Iowa ACE) recognized the need for a Hispanic advocacy group because the Hispanic/Latino community is the fastest growing minority demographic in Iowa, she said.

“For some time the Iowa ACE Board had been interested in creating an organization to represent Latino parents in the school choice discussion.  We formed a committee of individuals who work with the Latino community in Iowa; consulted activists in other states and at the national level, and created a plan for this new organization.” The result is Hispanic Aligned for Choice in Education Reform (HACER), a division of Iowa ACE that will become a separate nonprofit soon, Wilger said.

“Our nonpublic schools serve a large number of Latino families, so we felt it was important to create and launch this organization.  It is critical that all voices are heard in discussions on parental choice in education.”


Arlene McClintock, executive director of HACER, came on board in September. The group officially launched in January. “Our primary goal is to help Hispanic/Latino families be equipped with information about choices in their children’s education and give them a voice and to advocate for rights,” she said.

HACER, just like Iowa ACE, assists parents seeking choices in the private school, public charter school, traditional public school, virtual learning school and homeschool sectors.

The State Data Center of Iowa’s “Latinos in Iowa: 2020 report” states that 198,550 people in Iowa are Hispanic or Latino in origin (as of 2019), or 6.3% of the state’s total population. That is up 140.7% from 2000, the report states.

Within the Diocese of Davenport, the report’s findings show the percentage of Latinos in Muscatine County is 18.3%; Louisa County, 16.1%; Wapello, 11.1%; Scott County, 7%; Washington County, 6.5%; Johnson County, 5.8%; and Henry County, 5.1%.

HACER works to promote the School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit program, tuition and textbook tax credits, public school options and awaits the possibility of Educational Savings Accounts.

McClintock plans to set up meetings throughout the state to educate families about HACER and to learn about the families’ needs and concerns. For more information on HACER, visit https://www.haceriowa.org/

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