Impact Aid is a program that helps fund school districts that lose local tax revenue because their district includes federal tax-exempt land such as military bases or Native American reservations. This funding is critical for these school districts and directly benefits military families, Native American families, and other families living in areas that generate little tax revenue.
Members of Congress recently introduced the Military Education Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 5199 / S. 2517), which would create a private school voucher program for students with an active-duty parent in the military. This bill will hurt the very students it claims to help by draining Impact Aid funding, which is designed to support the public schools that serve military-connected students, in order to pay for vouchers at private and religious schools.
Urge Congress to oppose the Military Education Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 5199/S.2517) to protect public schools and ensure that Congress uses public funds to support public schools.
From both a public education and separation of church and state perspective, vouchers, often couched as “school choice,” divert public, taxpayer money to private schools, including parochial schools, by offering government money to families to assist them with the costs of sending a child to a private school. Instead of voucher programs, we should support public schools with public funds. Not only does support for public schools translate to ensuring access to a high-quality education for all our nation’s children, but only in public schools are certain rights, programs, and support systems ensured for students and their families.
If passed, the Military Education Savings Accounts Act would undermine the public schools that will continue to serve the majority of military-connected students. The bill would create education savings accounts (ESAs), which would essentially establish a voucher program for military families. These ESAs would funnel money set aside for Impact Aid away from public schools and toward subsidizing the cost of private educations, including religious schools. That is why groups like the National Military Family Association and the Military Officers Association of America oppose this bill.
It is likely that this bill will be attached as language to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Congress is expected to consider in the spring of 2018.
Supporting voucher programs with public funds endangers the separation of church and state. As Jews, we value the separation of church and state because we are a religious minority and recognize religious liberty as a bedrock principle of a free society. In a 1972 resolution, the Reform Movement stated that we: “historically opposed using public funds for non-public elementary and secondary schools, believing that such aid would infringe the separation of church and state and have damaging impact on public schools.”
You can email your elected officials through our form above, or you can call the Capital Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to speak directly with their offices.