Lt. Governor Brown Testifies in Support of Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children
Average military child changes school six to nine times between kindergarten and 12th grade; bill will ease transition during school transfer
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 24, 2009) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown testified today before the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 306, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children (Interstate Compact). The bill, introduced as an O’Malley-Brown Administration priority, would allow Maryland to join the Interstate Compact; thus easing the educational transition for military children when their parents are reassigned.
“We ask a great deal of our military families and their children and for that, we owe them a great debt of gratitude,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Over the course of their K-12 career, military children can change schools as many as six to nine times – as often as once every 18 months. By passing this common sense legislation, we are giving military students the opportunity to succeed in our schools and in the schools in which they may enroll next year or the year after.”
The Interstate Compact was first conceptualized by the Council of State Governments (CSG) in 2006. Last year, eleven states passed legislation to join the Interstate Compact, including Delaware. Twenty-two states and commonwealths are currently considering legislation to join the Interstate Compact, including New Jersey and Virginia. Because of the 2005 decisions of the Base Realignment and Closure commission, Maryland expects to welcome as many as 28,000 new households, many from Ft. Monmouth in New Jersey and Defense Information Securities Agency in Northern Virginia.
Last year, Del. Anne Kaiser (District 14) and Sen. John Astle (District 30) introduced identical bills (HB 784/SB 457) that would allow Maryland to join the Interstate Compact. The bills were amended to create the Task Force on Educational Issues Affecting Military Children. In December, the Task Force on Educational Issues Affecting Military Children submitted a final report to Governor Martin O’Malley and recommended that Maryland join the Interstate Compact.
Military families move between postings on a regular basis. While reassignments can often be a benefit 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. The O’Malley-Brown Administration is committed to ensuring 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:
- The transfer of records. Children in military families often are placed in classes incorrectly because of time lapses between entry into school and the arrival of transcripts, particularly for students involved in special education, gifted education, English as a second language, and Advanced Placement courses.
- Course sequencing. Varying prerequisite course requirements among states can result in repetitive course content or incorrect placement.
- Graduation requirements. In some states, specific courses are required for graduation, which may prevent students from graduating on time if they are unable to enroll in the necessary coursework.
- Exclusion from extra-curricular activities. Students who enroll in school after auditions, tryouts, elections and membership recruitment periods often are eliminated from activities that promote connectedness to their new school communities.
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children addresses these issues, as well as compact enforcement, administration, finances, communications, data sharing and training.
Brown serves as the O’Malley-Brown Administration point person on veteran and military family issues. He is a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and the highest-ranking elected official in America to have served a tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For more information on the Interstate Compact, visit the Council on State Government Web site: http://www.csg.org/programs/ncic/EducatingMilitaryChildrenCompact.