Advocates with a special interest in the well-being of military children have launched an advisory group that pulls in a number of organizations that have long worked to help ensure military children have the best educational opportunities possible.
“Military-connected students and their families deserve educational options that move them forward and shape their tomorrows with great positive impact,” said Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards, one of the inaugural organizations in the Coalition for Military-Connected Student Success. “Gathered here are those who focus their time, talents and energies to provide valuable options for these students. This group will become a powerful voice and a strong influence for outcomes that can shape true educational success.”
The overwhelming majority of school-age military children attend public schools. The coalition expects to focus its efforts on the U.S. Department of Education; military and civilian leaders of the military services; members of Congress; state-level education officials; service members and spouses; and the news media.
Their priorities are:
- Promoting rigorous education standards and access to high-quality education in public schools attended by military-connected children.
- Raising awareness about the Military Student Identifier required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires states to collect information about military-connected students’ test results as a distinct subgroup.
- Advocating for the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which has been adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, to address transition issues commonly faced by military children as they move from one school district to another. (www.mic3.net)
- Encouraging full funding of Impact Aid, which is the federal government’s program for reimbursing school districts for a loss of local tax revenue because of federal lands in their districts.
- Highlighting effective practices that have been adopted by school districts and military installations to support military children and families.
- Raising awareness in institutions of higher learning about issues faced by military- and veteran-connected children, to help better prepare future teachers.
“Key to the retention of our force is the expectation that all our military-connected children have the opportunity to thrive academically, socially and emotionally regardless of duty station location,” said John Ballantyne, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Military Child Education Coalition, a member of the new coalition.
For more than 20 years, MCEC has been an advocate for military children, and has instituted a number of programs such as Student 2 Student training program being used by nearly 300 public schools and Defense Department schools around the world to help military students when they move to a new school. MCEC long advocated for the Military Student Identifier.
“Military families consistently tell us that the quality of their children’s education is one of their greatest concerns. They worry that their military service will affect their children’s academic outcomes,” said Eileen Huck, government relations deputy director of the National Military Family Association.
“No parent should have that concern, especially one who is sacrificing to serve our country. While many improvements have been made, much remains to be done to ensure that military-connected kids receive the best possible education regardless of where their parents are stationed.
“We’re proud to partner with the other members of the Coalition to provide information and advice to policymakers to help them create policies to support military-connected children and families.”
Other members of the new coalition include the Association of the United States Army, National Association for Federally Impacted Schools, National Math + Science Initiative, and Military Impacted Schools Association.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.