Federal Proposal Would Reduce Funding to Localities Like Prince George County Now Serving Military School Children
Late last month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she supports a proposal to offer military families education savings accounts (ESAs) that could be used to pay for K-12 education for their children at public, private or online schools. But so far, it’s not clear how the federal government would provide school choice for service members. The Heritage Foundation has proposed redirecting federal impact aid funds into ESAs for military families, which amounts to $1.2 billion under the Education Department’s fiscal 2018 budget. But a little more than one-half of that figure is for students who live on Indian lands, leaving $515 million for military-connected students. That works out to less than $1,000 per military child for education, according to an analysis by Army Times.
A system that shifts impact aid funds toward ESAs would harm school districts serving military children, says Eileen Huck, deputy director of government relations for the National Military Family Association (NMFA). “Trying to recast [impact aid] as a voucher program really goes against the entire purpose of the program, and would be financially devastating to a large number of school districts,” Huck said. “It’s a misconception that it’s a per capita [program], that this is money per military kid. It’s really to offset the loss of revenue that a school district has when it has federal land within its boundaries.” NMFA has supported school vouchers for military children in states with voucher programs, she said.