Not even sure how this is a debate. Play your age until you dominate then move up. Tier 3 is not a step up from AAA at the highest levels. It might be a side step but not one up. Scouts from all levels go to U18 games, scouts from D3 colleges go to high end Tier 3, scouts from low end club go to USPHL Elite.
So if end goal is club hockey then elite is a great choice
It's not that simple, of course, especially not in this area, where we really lack strong Midget FS programs. And, the practice times don't always work, depending on your kid's HS schedule and the travel time to get there.
USPHL SHOULD be a good stepping stone to higher level junior. Unfortunately, the local programs aren't running their teams that way. They're suffering from being very badly managed.