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In the Spotlight: ACE Grad and PhD Student Anna Jacob

on Thursday, 22 March 2012.

AnnaJacob SmallACE Advocate Anna Jacob is passionate about parental choice. "Our society," says the native of Waterford, Ireland, has a "moral obligation to protect families' [rights] to select what they deem are the most appropriate schools for their children."

Anna's experience in the ACE Teaching Fellows program kindled the flame of this passion, and her participation last summer in the ACE Advocates Parental Choice Symposium fanned that flame into a blaze. The symposium, she says, "is an invaluable experience for teachers who...recognize a gap in their knowledge and understanding of the relevance of the school choice landscape for Catholic schools."

"Anyone who has taught in or led a Catholic school knows the struggles many families face financing the necessary tuition for their children," Anna says. "Catholic school leaders are also brutally aware of the startling rate at which enrollments have declined in recent years. The unsettling reality is that many [students] who switch out of Catholic schools do not choose to do so because of dissatisfaction with ... their child's Catholic school." On the contrary, most often it is simply because they cannot afford it. This injustice, she says, "stirs a profound objection in me."

Today Anna is working towards a doctorate in education policy at the University of Arkansas, where her experience as a teacher and advocate helps her strike a healthy balance between theory and practice. As she learns in greater detail about education reform, she says, "the ACE Advocates Symposium reminds me to pay attention to the common experiences, responses, and revealed preferences of practitioners, students, families and community members generally, and to reflect deeply on the issues in hand."

Anna Jacob has worked as a graduate assistant with the School Choice Demonstration Project since 2010 with Dr. Patrick Wolf and fellow ACE graduate Mike McShane. The group recently released the final set in a series of annual reports on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Anna received her B.Ed. from St. Patrick's College Dublin, where she graduated with first-class honors, and her M.Ed. through the University of Notre Dame's ACE program. Her email address is .

Applications for the 2012 Parental Choice Symposium are currently being accepted.

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