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Education Summit Focuses on Military Kids

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2000 – Transferable credits between schools, stability and adequate funding are among the most important family concerns that surfaced here at a recent Army Education Summit.

Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, sponsored the summit. All the participants were from the Army, but the concerns they raised affect all service members. DoD officials attended and said they would build on the recommendations as they form policy.

The 75 summit participants represented all the "players" in education. Among them were 49 parents (20 soldiers, 29 spouses), nine school administrators, six students, six garrison commanders and five school liaison officers. Their charter was to address youth education issues, identify solutions, strengthen partnerships between the military and school systems and reinforce the Army leadership's commitment to education.

The top recommendations were:

o Get schools to transfer grades and test scores easily. Military members move often and different schools have different requirements.

o Reduce obstacles to high school graduation by providing parents and students with clear course and calendar information. The summit participants also called for reciprocal agreements between school districts regarding graduation requirements and exit-level testing.

o Ensure schools with large numbers of students from military families receive their full share of federal impact aid, and change the distribution formula so funding is proportionate to the number of federally related students in the districts.

o Work with state governments to authorize in-state tuition for military dependents attending their post-secondary institutions.

o Consider a "no move" policy for soldiers with children who are in or starting their senior year of high school.

o Develop stronger partnerships between military communities and local and state education systems. Encourage national-level partners to adopt national transition standards for DoD students moving between schools.

o Improve liaison between parents of special needs children and local school officials to help parents understand their entitlements, to assist with transition issues and to meet the children's educational needs.

o Budget DoD funds to repair, upgrade or build schools on installations or that are owned by the federal government.

o Provide training to teachers on the military lifestyle and social, emotional and educational challenges military youth face.

O Establish "transition labs" staffed with transition specialists in schools with large numbers of military youth.

o Finally, shift funding of installation school liaison officers from fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2001.

There are just over 965,000 children ages 3-18 in military families, according to DoD statistics. Of these, about 110,000 are in DoD overseas or stateside schools. The rest attend school in civilian communities around the United States.

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