Making Life Easier for the New Kids in Class

It’s the letter we always know is coming, but dread getting.

Just as we have our routines set, boxes all unpacked and everything in the right place, the orders come. It’s time to move to a new post. Sometimes this means a new base across the country; sometimes it’s around the world.

After doing this a few times, we all have our checklists at the ready that we rely on to make the move easier. But the move never seems to go perfectly. Having moved 26 times over my husband’s 38-year military career, I could share stories of difficult moves and failed strategies. Despite this, what kept my family and me sane during these moves was the sense that a new adventure was awaiting us when we arrived.

One of the biggest challenges we faced when we moved with our two children was the quality of education at schools near bases here in the United States. Like any parent, we wanted to make sure our children went to the best schools available.

But, as any military parent knows, the quality of public schools can differ greatly from base to base. Thanks to the internet, we can quickly find out what our options are for educating our children. This, of course, assumes we have any.

The Lexington Institute, a Virginia-based think tank, recently issued a report that looked at the challenges military families face. The report looked at school districts in four states with large and diverse military populations: Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. It examined test scores on one key test that all students take – the National Assessment of Education Progress. It found that academic performance in states with military-connected children varies dramatically.

From there, the authors made recommendations to policy makers at the federal and state level about what they can do to make the transition easier. Four of their recommendations deserve special attention.