Education and military children

Education and military children

April 30th, 2012 in Opinion Times

The toll that repeated deployments in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars takes on men and women in uniform and their families is generally well documented. One problem often faced by families, though, is often overlooked. Children in military families change schools so frequently that even the best students have difficulty adjusting to different surroundings and shifting academic requirements. There is no sure remedy for the problem, but an interstate compact that addresses the issue is helpful in doing so.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is designed to provide uniform treatment of kids who transfer from state to state as their families move from one military assignment to another. One would think that every state willingly would guarantee that, but that is not the case. Some states have yet to do so.

The compact is designed to remedy that, and most states have signed on. Georgia, in fact, became the 42nd signatory last week when Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation approving his state's acceptance of the pact. Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Arkansas, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts have yet to agree. There's little reason for such recalcitrance.

Military children change schools more frequently than most Americans realize. It is not unusual, military, government and school officials agree, for students with parents in the military to transfer more than twice during high school and up to nine times in their K-12 career. Those students should not be penalized because of their parents' career choice.

Most districts readily accept military children and work diligently to make their transition a smooth one. The compact is a useful adjunct in that process. It does not require massive retooling of rules or curriculum on the part of a school district. It merely provides a template for a uniformity of standards that is fair to both students and to the schools they attend.

Accepting those parameters, as Georgia and 41 other states have done, is a small price to pay to assure military children of fair treatment in all of the nation's schools.