Thousands of vets and family members push Congress to act on school choice

Matt Saintsing
April 11, 2018 - 2:59 pm

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When military families have to move, they often do so without much notice and usually don’t provide much input—just one of the sacrifices they make to support their country and service member.

One bill in Congress aims to relieve some pressure, and it has support from more than 2,000 veterans, spouses and other family members.

A letter released Tuesday by the Heritage Action for America, the lobbying organization of Washington-based think tank The Heritage Foundation, endorses a bill that would establish education savings accounts so military families could increase their school choice options by paying for some expenses.

“As you already know, recruiting and retaining talent in the military is a challenging task, but one that is vital to military readiness and national security,” the letter reads.

“Part of this challenge is due to the lack of high-quality educational options available for the children of military families.”

According to a recent Military Times survey, 35 percent of their readers said frustration with their children’s education was a major factor in their decision to leave military service.  

The fact that the letter has more than 2,000 signatures is a testament to how important this issue is for military families. The bill would provide money for some private, online learning programs, private school tuition, textbooks and computer hardware.

“Families who serve in the armed forces move from duty station to duty station with little choice in where they live or what schools their children attend,” the letter says.

 “Military-connected children are too often assigned to the district schools closest in proximity to military bases, regardless of whether those schools meet their needs. More than half of all active-duty military families live in states with no school-choice options at all.”

The letter asks federal lawmakers to consider adding the legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act, which regulates policies and priorities for the Defense Department.

“As you consider adding new policies in this year’s NDAA,” they write, “please consider including Rep. Banks’ Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018 to help strengthen the military and better serve military families.”