By Kathryn Hickok
EdChoice recently conducted a groundbreaking survey of military-connected families seeking to understand their perspectives on K-12 education and school choice. EdChoice is a nonpartisan research organization that promotes expanded educational options for all children.
The survey found that families connected with the military highly value access to better educational environments for their children, want more freedom and flexibility in choosing their children’s schools, and overwhelmingly support school choice programs like Education Savings Accounts. Eighty percent of children in military households currently attend public schools, but only 34% of survey respondents said a public school would be their first choice. Military parents are much more likely than the national average to take “costly and inconvenient steps to secure and accommodate their children’s education.” That includes taking extra jobs, moving closer to schools, and taking out loans.
The military lifestyle presents unique challenges to families. The EdChoice report noted that “the quality of educational options available to military families can play a major role in whether a family accepts an assignment or even decides to leave military service altogether.” As a nation we should consider that providing military families with meaningful school choice programs could be a significant boost to the morale of service members by improving the wellbeing of their families. Making it easier for military kids to get their educational needs met is the right thing to do.
Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.