U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, that she supports a plan that would allow military families to use federal funds as education savings accounts to pay for private school or other educational services for their children. It’s a policy that was formulated by The Heritage Foundation.
“In order to ensure that those who secure our nation are able to access education options that best serve them, policymakers should empower these families with education-choice options,” wrote Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Education Policy Center, and former Heritage research assistant Anne Ryland in a report that is leading the way for lawmakers.
“The federal government has a mandate to provide for the national defense. That obligation is one of the reasons why there is a special place at the U.S. Department of Education for federal funding for the education of children from military families,” says Burke.
The Associated Press reported that “the proposal, backed by the conservative Heritage Foundation, would make the funds eligible to an estimated 126,000 military-connected children across the nation if they are not happy with their neighborhood schools.”
Additionally, EdWeek reports “the proposal appears to have gotten some attention from the White House and could be introduced as a bill soon.”
"I know for a fact that, for more than a third of active-duty military families that have school-age children, their decisions where they go, or where they don't go, or whether they continue to serve, hinge very heavily on the opportunities they have for their children's education," said DeVos in her remarks. "So, I think we have an opportunity in that regard to empower them with some more of those choices."
“Our team has been working for more than a year now on this proposal,” says Burke. “Providing options to military children is an imperative that extends beyond education. It is a recruitment issue, a retention issues, and ultimately, a national security issue.”
The Associated Press also reported that Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., is expected to introduce a bill based on Heritage’s policy prescription in the near future.