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).
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
Shawnna Bolick, Vice President, Development
Arizona School Choice Trust
Adam Brandon, President
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
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
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
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
Jim Stergios, Executive Director
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