U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, while visiting a primary school on the Army base, voiced support for allowing some children in military families to use federal vouchers to attend schools they choose.
During her meeting with parents and teachers at the Kimberly Hampton Primary School, at least one parent told her he would welcome the chance to send his older children to a private high school that matches the quality of the base schools.
The Department of Defense runs eight schools on and near Fort Bragg that enroll 4,044 children from pre-kindergarten to middle school. High school students enroll in public school in surrounding districts.
The local high schools “don’t necessarily work for every child,” said DeVos, an ardent school-choice supporter.
DeVos mentioned a bill filed by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina that would start a pilot program to allow children on Department of Defense bases that do not have schools run by the department to use federal vouchers worth up to $8,000 a year for elementary school and $12,000 a year for high school.
“We’ll be looking very closely at supporting policies like that,” DeVos said.
North Carolina has a voucher program worth up to $4,200 a year for students whose families meet income guidelines.
DeVos visited the school on base to commemorate the Month of the Military Child. Children in military families face challenges such as parents on deployment and frequent moves.
Moving a lot isn’t something an individual school can address, she said.
“I think it really does take a community, and this community here is very united in the goal of helping to ensure that each of their children have the fullest and best experience,” DeVos said.