Issues that Matter: Education Options for Military Families

Originally posted in WFW Weekly Wins, Vol. 5
March 15, 2018

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) proposed “The Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018” (H.R. 5199), which would allow military members to begin education savings accounts (ESAs) for their children. WFW-endorsed Marsha Blackburn (running for U.S. Senate in Tennessee) also cosponsored the bill.  

Why is this needed?

Active duty members move from duty station to duty station and according to a recent survey conducted and published by Military Times, 35 percent of respondents said that dissatisfaction with their child’s education was a “significant factor” in their decision to remain in or leave military service. Per Heritage Action, more than half of all active-duty military families live in states without any school choice options!

How does an Education Savings Account work?

An ESA is an Education Savings Account. They can be used by parents to pay for private school tuition, private online learning programs, individual classes and extracurriculars at public schools, computer hardware, textbooks, curriculum, and other instructional materials. These are different from “school vouchers,” which allow parents to use public funds to pay private school tuition.

Who is getting stuck with the bill?

Rep. Banks’ bill would providing funding in much the same way as the G.I. bill allows veterans to receive federal funding to attend any college of their choosing. Except in this situation, it would give military parents federal funding to choose how and where their child learns. (more details from Heritage Action, here

Is anyone else doing anything about this?

Yes, U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced a companion bill (S.2517)in the Senate that outlines similar measures.

What comes next?

Now that the bill has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, the bills sit with relevant committees for review. In the House, that is the Committee on Education and the Workforce, led by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), and the Committee on Ways and Means (Ways and Means is in charge of writing taxes, all kinds of tariffs and other ways that the government raises money). In the Senate, Sasse, and Scott’s bill is being reviewed by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Can I do anything?

Yes! Contact your Representatives and Senators and tell them what you think about this bill!
We’ll keep you updated!

Where you can learn more: WSJ, The Daily Signal, Heritage, Education Week

This piece originally appeared in WFW’s Newsletter: Weekly Wins, Volume 5. Click here to sign up!