Home > Uncategorized > “Choice” Advocates Relentlessness Leads to Proposal to Replace Impact Aid with Vouchers

“Choice” Advocates Relentlessness Leads to Proposal to Replace Impact Aid with Vouchers

April 5, 2018

I worked for a decade leading a school district that included a military base, Fort Ritchie.  Fort Ritchie was located in a geographically remote section of the district and was served by an elementary school that had a majority of students who were children of those serving or working at the base. To help the district fund that school, whose land was tax exempt, we received impact aid. Near the end of my service in that district, the military based was closed and we lost the impact aid, which had a cascading effect on the funding of not only the school located on the base, but schools across the district. I offer this to illustrate the importance of impact aid as a revenue source to districts who serve children in the military, a revenue source that would be converted into a voucher scheme if conservative-libertarian legislators prevail in passing the “revenue neutral” (at the FEDERAL LEVEL) Education Savings Account for Military Families Act of 2018. These paragraphs from yesterday’s Politico feed explain how these plans would work:

MILITARY SCHOOL CHOICE BILL GETS HOME-FIELD BACKING: Thirty-four conservative organizations and school choice advocacy groups say they’re backing a bill introduced last month to create Education Savings Accounts for military-connected students. In a letter sent to Congress on Tuesday, the groups urged lawmakers to support the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018, H.R. 5199 (115), introduced by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), and its Senate companion.

The legislation would create education savings accounts through federal Impact Aid dollars, which are used to supplement school district budgets because the districts sit on tax-exempt federal land like military bases or Native American reservations. Military families could use the accounts to pay for expenses like private school tuition, educational materials and contributions to college savings accounts. The bill is based on a proposal from the Heritage Foundation. Advocates for school districts receiving Impact Aid funds, like the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, are opposed.

“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,” the letter from supporting groups reads . “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.” Among those who signed on to the letter are the Center for Education Reform, EdChoice, the American Association of Christian Schools, the American Federation for Children and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

There are not that many districts in the nation who receive Impact Aid… but I believe EVERY public school district in the nation needs to raise their voice in opposition to this bill because if it passes it will serve s a precedent that the relentless pro-voucher groups will use to divert funds for public education to private for profit and sectarian schools… and the revenue lost to districts who serve these military bases will impact not only this children of the military who remain in public schools but ALL the children who attend public schools in those districts. This is a bad bill that should be defeated. Time for me to write my legislators!

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