An Education Wish List for the New Administration
By: Eileen Huck, Government Relations Deputy Director
As the country prepares to welcome a new President in January, many military families are grappling with questions about what the new Administration will mean for them. Along with questions about pay, benefits, and deployments, military families with kids have another concern – the incoming Administration’s policies on education. With the vast majority of military children attending public schools, and many transitioning frequently to new school districts and states, the quality of public education in the United States is of utmost importance to service members and their families.
At NMFA, we understand how important education is to the military families we serve. That’s why we signed on to a letter addressed to incoming Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. In it we asked that she ensure schools across the country adopt high and consistent standards so military kids can be sure to get the best possible education wherever their families happen to be stationed. High standards that are consistent from state to state are the best way to help military kids transition smoothly to new classrooms and succeed in school.
If we were to have a conversation with Ms. DeVos, there are a few other suggestions we’d offer to help ensure military kids get the quality education they need and deserve:
Make sure charter schools serve military families
Ms. DeVos is known as a proponent of school choice, so families are wondering if we will see an increase in the number of charter schools while she is in office. While charter schools are a great option for many military families, too often families arrive in their new location when it’s too late to apply. Charter schools in an area with military families must make sure their admissions policies reflect the needs of our highly mobile population.
Help public schools get the resources they need
Most military kids attend local public schools in their civilian communities. Those schools rely on Impact Aid they receive from the federal government in order to meet the needs of military-connected students. It’s also designed to make up for the loss of tax revenue when their district includes federal property, like a military installation. Because Congress didn’t pass a budget before leaving town for the holidays, school districts serving military kids are receiving only a fraction of this much needed funding. We ask Ms. DeVos to join us in urging Congress to act quickly to restore Impact Aid dollars for this school year and increase future funding levels to ensure these schools have the resources they need to educate our military kids.
Raise awareness of the Interstate Compact
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is an agreement between states designed to smooth transition issues for military children when they move to new schools. While the agreement has been signed into law by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, too many teachers and school administrators aren’t aware of the Compact or don’t understand what it covers. We’re asking the new Secretary to use her bully pulpit to make sure schools across the country know about the Compact and adhere to its principles.
Support special-needs military kids and their families
While transitioning to a new school district is hard for any child, it can be especially challenging for special needs military kids and their families. Parents of special needs kids work hard to get their children the support they need; only to have to start from scratch after a PCS move. Even worse, families often find that the programs and support they relied on at their old school aren’t available at their new one. We ask Ms. DeVos to ensure that special education services are fully funded and meet consistent standards.
What would you add to our education “wish list”? Add your comments below!
Posted December 21, 2016