At present, military parents are limited to local public schools for the education of their children. But efforts are underway to give them the same right that civilian parents possess by defunding a program known as Impact Aid. (“Betsy DeVos Is Facing Backlash for Her Plan to Push School Vouchers on Military Families,” The Nation, May 1).
Because military bases are tax-exempt sites, the federal government has long offered subsidies that are designed to offset the lack of resources normally provided by local property taxes. That certainly is fair. But recent House education legislation would divert the funds to Education Savings Accounts to give military parents greater choice.
If the bill becomes law, it has to give parents enough to pay for private schools and other services. Unfortunately, it does not, offering a maximum of $4,500 for families in high-needs Impact Aid districts or $2,500 for those families outside those areas. That certainly is not fair because the amounts do not come close to paying for the full cost of private schools, which is roughly $10,000.
Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, however, the bill needs to be altered to reflect the true cost of non-public school tuition. I say that because military parents already sacrifice so much in serving the country. Yes, choice always involves doing due diligence. But I maintain that military parents should have the same right to decide which school is best for their own children.
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