Vouchers for Military-Connected Students


In March 2018, Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) and Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2018 (H.R. 5199 / S. 2517). The bill would use funds designated for the federal Impact Aid program to pay for a new Education Savings Account (ESA) program for military-connected students. ESAs are simply another form of private school voucher.

The very constituents that supporters of this bill claim will benefit from the ESA, however, actually oppose the bill. The National Military Family Association (NMFA), the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) and the Military Officers Association of America have all voiced opposition to this proposal. As explained by NAFIS and NMFA, “The proposal is a bad deal for military families – and a disaster for local public school districts charged with educating our nation’s children.”

This proposed program suffers from the same problems as other voucher programs. In addition, this bill would drain money from the Impact Aid program to fund the voucher plan. Impact Aid provides funding to school districts that have lost local tax revenue (which traditionally funds public schools) due to the presence of federal tax-exempt land, such as military installations, Native American reservations, or national parks. Diverting Impact Aid dollars to private school vouchers would be extremely detrimental for the school districts that rely on this funding to provide an education to military-connected students. It would also place a greater financial strain on the local community, which would be left to fund public schools with an already low level of local tax revenue.

Congress would better serve all military-connected families by fully funding Impact Aid instead of diverting federal funding into a private school voucher plan.