Coalition Letter: Support Military Education Savings Accounts

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April 03, 2018

Dear Members of Congress:

On behalf of our organizations and the millions of American families we represent, we write to express our strong support for the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018 (H.R. 5199), introduced by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.). If signed into law, this legislation would allow parents of military-connected children to establish voluntary Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to pay for whatever educational service works best for their children.

Recruiting and retaining talent in the military is a challenging task, but one that is vital to military readiness and national security. Part of this challenge is due to the lack of high-quality educational options available for the children of military families. According to a survey conducted by Military Times, 35 percent of readers, largely active duty military families say that dissatisfaction with their children's education was a significant factor in their decision to remain or leave military service.

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. 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.

This is a problem Congress can solve. Armed with a military ESA, parents can send their children to a private school, take individual classes at a public school, school at home, use an online learning program, hire a private tutor, and eventually use any surplus to help pay for college. And by providing education choice through ESAs, the military will possess a key tool to both attract and retain military families that will help reduce turnover, save valuable resources, and retain institutional knowledge and skills necessary to defeat the enemy.

But this bill is about more than saving money or retaining talent. Military families already sacrifice so much on the battlefield, but far too often Washington fails them off the battlefield. Concerns over funding for school districts who serve military families are greatly exaggerated. Even if 10 percent of students left their assigned district schools with an ESA, research demonstrates that the changes in Impact Aid as a share of district budgets would represent just 0.10 percent of total budget expenses.

Men and women in the armed forces have earned the right to send their children to whatever school or educational service provider they believe will benefit their family. It’s the least we can do for those who are sacrificing the most.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge all members of Congress to support and cosponsor the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018 (H.R. 5199).

Sincerely,

 

Michael A. Needham, CEO

Heritage Action for America

 

Michael F. Acquilano, Director

South Carolina Catholic Conference

 

Jeanne Allen, CEO

Center for Education Reform

 

Jim Backlin, Vice President of Legislative Affairs

Christian Coalition of America

 

Maureen Blum, Vice President of Federal Affairs

#EdTaxCredit50

 

Shawnna Bolick, Vice President, Development

Arizona School Choice Trust

 

Adam Brandon, President

FreedomWorks

 

Scott Bullock, President

Institute for Justice

       

Dan Caldwell, Executive Director

Concerned Veterans for America

 

Thomas W. Carroll, President

Invest In Education Foundation

 

Larry Cirignano, DC Representative

Children First Foundation

 

Kim Crockett, Esq., Vice President, Senior Fellow and General Counsel

Center of the American Experiment

 

James Cultrara, Executive Secretary

New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents

 

Robert C. Enlow, President and CEO

EdChoice

 

Kimberly Fletcher, President and Founder

HomeMakers for America

 

Virginia Walden Ford, Executive Director

Parent Information Network

 

Heather R. Higgins, CEO

Independent Women’s Voice

 

Jim Kallinger, President

Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition

 

Phil Kerpen, President

American Commitment

 

Edward King, President

Defense Priorities Initiative

 

Sister Dale McDonald, Director of Public Policy

National Catholic Educational Association

 

David McIntosh, President

Club for Growth       

 

Joe McTighe, Executive Director

Council for American Private Education

 

Lisa B. Nelson, CEO

ALEC Action

 

C. Preston Noell III, President

Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

 

Mike Rouse, President

American Association of Christian Schools

 

John Schilling, President

American Federation for Children

 

Norm Singleton, President

Campaign for Liberty

 

Eunie Smith, President

Eagle Forum

 

Jim Stergios, Executive Director

Pioneer Institute

 

P. George Tryfiates, Director for Government Affairs

Association of Christian Schools International

 

Brittany Vessely, Executive Director

Catholic Education Partners

 

Ellen E. Weaver, President and CEO

Palmetto Promise Institute

 

Secretariat for Catholic Education

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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