My daughter started Kindergarten when she was just 4. She’s not particularly gifted (well, I think she is but I’m biased) but the state we live in has a very relaxed age requirement for children starting Kindergarten. She she started when she was just 4. When we get ready to leave this state and move to another state, my daughter faces the possibility that the new school she will start at might very well hold her back for no reason other than her age.
Never mind the fact that she can read at a 5th grade level (she’s in 2nd grade). Never mind the fact that she is doing just fine in 2nd grade math, language arts, social studies, and science. But because she did not turn 7 until several months into the school year this year, she could be placed a grade back. Military students face this possibility, and many others just like it, every day.
Thankfully there exists a piece of legislation aimed at easing transitions for military children switching schools. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children adheres to an armed forces adage: Recruit the servicemember, but retain the family.
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.
According to the Council on State Governments,
Military families move between postings on a regular basis. While reassignments can often be a boon for career personnel, they often wreak havoc on the children of military families. Issues these children face include: losing and making new friends, adjusting to new cities and bases, and changing schools. While the armed services have taken great leaps to ease the transition of personnel, their spouses and most importantly children, much remains to be done at the state and local levels to ensure that the children of military families are afforded the same opportunities for educational success as other children and are not penalized or delayed in achieving their educational goals by inflexible administrative and bureaucratic practices.
The average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school, and most military children will have six to nine different school systems in their lives from kindergarten to 12th grade. With more than half of all military personnel supporting families, the impacts of reassignment and long deployments are key considerations when making long-term life choices.
Specific impacts on military children include:
- Transfer of Records
- Course Sequencing
- Graduation Requirements
- Exclusion from Extra-Curricular Activities
- Redundant or Missed Entrance/Exit Testing
- Kindergarten and First Grade Entrance Age Variations
- Power of Custodial Parents While Parents are Deployed
The new Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children addresses these issues, as well as compact enforcement, administration, finances, communications, data sharing and training.
Specifically, the compact will address four key areas:
- Graduation Requirements
Compacts such as this one are the most powerful, durable, and adaptive tool for ensuring cooperative action among states. The develop and enforce standards while providing an adaptive structure that can evolve to meet new and increased demands over time. Unlike federal solutions that often dictate unfunded mandates, interstate compacts provide a state-developed structure for collaborative and dynamic action and can often preempt federal interference.
This compact became active when the 10th state enacted it. Currently, there are 11 states that have enacted this compact:
- North Carolina
It has passed one chamber of legislature in four more states and will be considered by at least six more in 2009.
Should you like to learn more about this compact, I would encourage you to watch the video that the Council of State Governments has up – it is incredibly informative. And if your state has not yet already enacted this compact, I would highly encourage you to learn more about this compact and to contact your state representatives and urge them to do so.