Education Compact Helps Retain Military Families, Official Says
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 21, 2008 A piece of legislation aimed at easing transitions for military children switching schools adheres to an armed forces adage: Recruit the servicemember, but retain the family, a Pentagon official said today.
Developed by the Council of State Governments, education experts and the Defense Department, the Compact on Education Transition for Military Children addresses common problems that affect military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments.
“The interstate compact is a major new tool and opportunity for the nation really to show its appreciation to military families,” Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, said during an interview today.
States that pass the bill agree to work collectively with other participating states to create uniform standards of practice, including the transfer of records, course placement, graduation requirements, redundant or missed testing, entrance-age variations, and other transition issues.
Kansas and Kentucky signed onto the bill this month, and 21 other states actively are considering the measure; 14 of those state legislatures have bills submitted in one or both chambers. In order for the compact to become operational, 10 states must adopt it, Arsht said.
“We are thrilled that Kansas and Kentucky are leading the nation in seeking uniform standards for school transition for military children,” she said after the two states adopted the bill.
She emphasized today that the Defense Department hopes the compact is made operational during the current Congressional session.
About 1.5 million children of military families attend schools other than those sponsored by the Defense Department, and military families move about three times as often as their civilian counterparts, Arsht said in an earlier interview. This legislation will ease transitions of the 19,000 school-age children of military families residing in Kansas and 30,834 school-age children in Kentucky, she added.
David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in an interview that passage of the interstate compact will have a lasting, positive impact on American military families.
“Quality education is a primary quality-of-life concern. In fact, education is so important that it directly impacts military recruitment, satisfaction with assignments, readiness and, ultimately, retention,” he said.
“We ask a lot of our military families,” he continued. “Easing this burden is the right thing to do. We appreciate all the support and effort to implement the compact. We look forward to more states signing on.”