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Military children are usually the new kids at school. As military spouses and parents, we understand that moving around so much impacts our children’s social circles and peer groups, but what impact does it have on their education?
According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school and most military children will attend six to nine different school systems in their lives from kindergarten to 12th grade. Is it possible to think that military children can have “normal” school experiences similar to their peers?
From educational standards to extracurricular activities; there are some things I know my children have missed out on because we move so often. I think most of the veteran parents out there would unequivocally agree that all states in this union are not equal when it comes to education.
Every thing seems to be different between states; different standards in education, different enrollment deadlines and different activities offered. There are different requirements for shot records, different eligibility ages for kindergarten/first grade and completely different class credits for high school students to earn in order to graduate. It’s actually mind boggling the amount of research and hurdles we have to jump through in order to standardize the education for our kids.
That is why the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) is the first organization to be on my Christmas card list, and they should be on yours too. MIC3 has been able to accomplish something that was considered impossible a few years ago; they were able get 44 states to agree on a level of standards in their education and intermural activities just for military children.
Brigadier General (R) Norman Arflack is the Executive Director of MIC3, which is located in Lexington, KY. He’s been leading the charge to standardize educational issues for military kids since 2011. The commission began in 2008 after several high-ranking military members were fed up with how the educational systems were treating military children. They had heard the concerns for years from their troops and had even felt the affects themselves from their own children.
They decided to do something about it and created an organization to address key educational transition issues encountered by military families including enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility and graduation. They’ve had quick success over the years with states joining the compact. So much so that he says the compact has been a victim of it’s own success.
“So many states have signed on so quickly, that some school districts aren’t aware of the compact and can sometimes give out wrong information, ” says Arflack.
In many cases, school liaisons are the first line of defense. He says, “School liaisons are affectively the most important piece of the compact. They are critical to interfacing with military families.”
Every military installation has in place a School Liaison Officer to help parents navigate the rough waters of school transition. After contacting the local School Liaison Officer at Goodfellow AFB in Texas, I was relieved to know he was well versed in the provisions agreed upon by the states and was heavily involved in the local school district. He knew the players, had principals on speed dial and was ready to help families with the transition.
School Liaisons can also help prepare you for your next move, too. They can contact your receiving school or liaisons at your next base or post for you to help begin the transition. You can find your local military School Liaison Officer at the Family Readiness Centers.
There are 44 states that participate in the interstate compact agreement for military children. Only six states (New York, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Minnesota, and New Hampshire) haven’t yet signed the agreement but the commission is working hard to get all 50 states on board.
The compact covers multiple key issues. The agreement has far reaching effects, from kindergartners to high school students. It also covers extracurricular activities that can sometimes be the link children need to integrate happily into school. There are several ways the MIC3 can impact your military child’s education and school experience:
Enrollment in Schools: