podcastED: Catholic Education Partners president discusses parental choice and how education savings accounts represent the next wave

Catholic Education Partners believes parental empowerment over their children’s education opportunities will allow more families to benefit from Catholic education, allay the Catholic school-funding crisis, protect the religious integrity and autonomy of parochial schools, and ultimately serve the Common Good.

On this episode, reimaginED Senior Writer Lisa Buie talks with Shawn Peterson, president of Catholic Education Partners, a nonprofit organization based in the Minnesota Twin Cities area.

A former staff member in the Minnesota Legislature who worked for two Minnesota governors, Peterson talks about growing up in various learning environments, how his time in government inspired him to join the education choice movement, the benefits of a Catholic education for Catholics as well as non-Catholics, and trends in Catholic education.

Shawn Peterson

“I saw budgets grow and get bigger and bigger. I saw test scores continue to decline, graduation rates go down, reading and math proficiency get worse, and minority and economically disadvantaged children suffer the most.  I started looking at the results non-government schools were getting …

“These kids were doing so much better in non-government schools. If you’ve got money, you’ve already got education choice. If you don’t have money, that’s when you don’t have choice. My time in the Legislature and seeing what went on in conference rooms and hallways made me realize that parents should have these opportunities and these choices.”


  • Peterson’s own diverse K-12 educational experience and how the Catholic schools he attended compared with district schools he attended
  • His work in the Minnesota Legislature and how it influenced his support for education choice
  • How Catholic schools can benefit non-Catholic students
  • The critical need to preserve religious liberty in education
  • A white paper Peterson co-wrote regarding the Vatican’s recent statement on education choice and the need for Catholic schools to maintain Catholic identities
  • Education savings accounts as the new wave of education choice





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BY Lisa Buie

Lisa Buie is senior reporter for NextSteps. The daughter of a public school superintendent, she spent more than a dozen years as a reporter and bureau chief at the Tampa Bay Times before joining Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa, where she served for nearly five years as marketing and communications manager. She lives with her husband and their teenage son, who has benefited from education choice.