FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. Students from military families attending Department of Defense run schools, like those on Fort Bragg Army base, have been quietly outperforming their peers nationwide according to the National Center of Education Statistics. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met school kids, teachers and parents in Fayetteville Monday for an inside look at just how they are doing it.”I am grateful for the men and women who admirably serve our nation, and for their families and children who often bear tremendous burdens on their behalf. Let us honor the service of these courageous men and women through our commitment to their children,” said DeVos.DeVos read ‘Hero Dad,” a book about a child with a father deployed in military service, to the kindergartners at Kimberly Hampton Primary School in a special trip that marks her first visit to a school run by the DoD, called the DoDea (Department of Defense Education Activity). The department runs 168 accredited schools in 8 districts located in 11 foreign countries, 7 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. More than 73,100 kids of active duty military and DoD civilians are served in the schools.According to the National Center for Education Statistics, DoDea students score higher than the national average in fourth and eighth grade on math, science and reading, despite having 35 percent of the students being considered transitory, or moving during the school year. The student body also has higher than average minority population and high rates of families with only one parent at home. More than half of the families are living at the poverty line.Parents at Fort Bragg met privately with DeVos, sharing their worries about their kids not having enough choices, often when they have to leave the base to attend a local school. DeVos has given her support to a bill filed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) called the CHOICE Act, which would put school choice at the federal level for certain groups of kids; those with disabilities, low income, or military status.”I’ve heard quite a bit about the challenges that students face particularly on this base about how when they go into high school and all of them do not necessarily work for every child,” said DeVos to parents and media after her meeting. “We are looking at policies that would empower the parents to choose the right setting for their child. Senator Tim Scott has proposed some legislation that would help in that regard and we will be looking very closely at policies like that.”The measure would provide startup money for states to launch choice programs for students with disabilities, age six to 21. It also launches a pilot program that provides some scholarship money for military kids on five military bases without a DoDea school, $8,000 a year for elementary school and $12,000 a year for high school. On Fort Bragg, the high school students attend a local public school. DeVos told the group that she supports programs like the CHOICE Act which would give them another option.Scott was an outspoken supporter of DeVos in the Senate for her work in charter schools saying that she represented choice for parents in struggling schools, critics said she would undermine traditional public schools. DeVos was confirmed in February when Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote for her in a Senate split 50-50.
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