States Sign Compact For Military Schoolchildren
May 4, 2008
Life in the military can mean frequent moves. For schoolchildren that can prove to be difficult, moving from one school to another, from state to state. Often the children find that their new school, is perhaps ahead or behind their previous school. With children in High School, sometimes credits that they received at one school, may not transfer to the new school. Recently, two states, Kansas and Kentucky signed a compact to ensure that the transition for military schoolchildren would be an easier one.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius hosted a ceremonial signing on April 19th, of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. This will allow smoother school transfers, between schools in Kentucky and Kansas. Currently the compact is being considered by 24 other states. If at least 10 of those states ratify the bill, it will become a relatity. Legislatures in 14 states already have bills submitted in one or both of their chambers.
“There are many states and many people in those states who have no idea of the stress and strains on military Families,” said General William B. Caldwell, commanding general of the US Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth. “They don’t even understand the challenges they have moving from school to school, because they have not been faced with that.”
When my oldest son was a freshman in High School, we were living in Colorado and moved back to Kansas in the middle of the school year. We discovered, that some of the credits he had earned in Colorado, didn’t transfer to the school in Kansas. That makes it more difficult for the children to remain on par with their classmates, causing them to often attend summer school in order to have enough credits for graduation. Military kids face this challenge more often than most children, due to their military family member being transferred to different bases throughout their career. This compact will make it much easier for these children.
The compact was developed by the Council of State Governments, educational experts and the Department of Defense. It was designed to address the common problems that affect military students, as a result of the frequent moves and deployments, that are part of being a military family member. The states who agree to work collectively with other compact states, create a uniform standard of practice, which will include the transfer of records, course placement, graduation requirements, redundant or missing testing, entrance age variations and other issues that come up involving transition. The compact signed by Kansas Governor Sebelius was signed on April 9th and Kentucky Governor State Beshar followed suit the following day.
During the ceremony on April 19th, General Caldwell explained that for most American students, their education remains fairly consistent, with most students living in the same school district throughout their time in school. In contrast, military Families move 6 to 10 times between when their children enter elementary school, until they graduate from High School.
Caldwell believes that awareness is the key to the issue: “… I believe that if Americans know what military Families are faced with, and how challenging it is for them to pick up and go to another state … that they will want to help and be a part of this, and they’ll want to energize their lawmakers to pass legislation that will, in fact, support the military Families…”
The signing of the compact between Kansas and Kentucky had greater significance, because it coincided with April being the “Month of the Military Child.” This legislation also ties in with the new legislation and the Army Family Covenant, as well as the Army Community Covenant, which is the Army making a commitment to those Americans who have taken the oath to serve our nation in the military. Part of giving back to those who are willing to serve, is ensuring that their quality of life is the best. At most military installations, only a percentage of military families live in on-post housing with the remainder living in the surrounding communities. As installations continue to grow, so does the number of military families living in the community. It only makes sense for the military to partner with the states and local communities to ensure that quality of life for the servicemembers and their families.
“So our partners off post are in this with us to provide quality of life commensurate with their service. This community covenant is precisely what’s needed to ’round the circle’ so to speak, so that all of us who are understanding we are a nation at war with an Army at war — so we’re all here to support those who are serving,” said Major General Robert Durbin, commanding general of 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kansas.
This is a great start and hopefully more states will join Kansas and Kentucky, in ensuring that military school children are able to transition between schools easier, when their parents are transferred to other installations.