House Democrats Say School Choice Provision Could ‘Derail’ Defense Bill
By Dan Cohen – Association of Defense Communities
Democratic members of the House Armed Services and the Education and Workforce committees on Tuesday vowed to oppose the inclusion of language in the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill providing military families the option of establishing education savings accounts to pursue alternative educational opportunities. The Democratic lawmakers are concerned that legislation, H.R. 5199, giving military families the ability to redirect a portion of their Impact Aid allocations into an account to pay for private school tuition, textbooks, tutoring, online courses and other educational expenses could be wrapped into the annual defense policy measure, which is being marked up this week by six House Armed Services subcommittees.
“The inclusion of any proposal that would send public resources to private schools is opposed by the Democratic caucus and could potentially derail any NDAA bill that contains such [a] measure,” 41 Democrats wrote in a letter to the chairs of the two panels. “Any amendment that diverts resources from public schools would be detrimental to the majority of military-connected students,” they said.
Instead the Democrats said Armed Services Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Education and the Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) should look at other ways to assist military families, reported the Hill. “Congress should work to fully implement ESSA [Every Student Succeeds Act], monitor the educational achievement of military-connected students through the new subgroup data in ESSA, support the implementation of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, and focus on the support military families need,” they wrote.