Military Moves and Education Changes
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In Hawaii, that process began before law makers even considered legislation adopting the compact last year, said Katherine Berg, the state’s commissioner who was selected as the 2010 vice chair of the Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.
Hawaii’s Joint Venture Education Forum, formed to encourage conversation between the state’s school and military communities, discussed the compact at several meetings while the legislature was formulating the state’s compact law, Berg said.
“Our concern was making sure we could accommodate it without a lot more expense in the school,” she said. “That’s always an issue.”
States pay $1 per student with active duty military parents each year, according to the rules of the compact. The number of students range from 182 in Iowa to 76,251 in Virginia.
Hawaii was also concerned about immunization provisions, since it is a crossroads of the Pacific, according to Berg.
“We wanted to make sure that kids couldn’t attend school before they had the tuberculosis clearance and that the compact didn’t obviate that because that’s a health department rule; it’s not a school thing,” she said. The compact includes a provision for Hawaii’s requirement on the TB vaccine.
Berg said Hawaii officials found that vetting the compact through impacted stakeholders essentially sped up the process and got the word out early. “We sort of greased the skids before we started,” she said.
Like Needham, Berg recognizes the need for continuous education about the compact. In fact, the Military Impacted Principals Council is developing a guidebook that will include an explanation of the compact rules to give to new principals. The council has also asked to include a report from Berg at every meeting.
“(Principals are) already embracing it and want to know what the rules are because they will be handling requests directly from parents and they want to know exactly what they have to do, what they can do and where the lines are,” Berg said.
While Hawaii has long worked to meet the needs of militarily impacted students, Berg said the compact will create consistent expectations across the country.
“If you have inexperienced principals or school people, it helps them get up to speed in a hurry about the things they can and should do for transitioning students of military families in particular,” Berg said.
At the local level, school officials who work regularly with military families see the compact as a positive.
“It’s difficult enough for children to make a move, much less have to bang their heads against a brick wall in order to get the services they had in a previous school,” said Tomek of Christian County in Kentucky.
“Moving is hard on everybody,” said Lewis of Hardin County. “This helps troops under duress and stress, and hopefully makes their move a little bit easier.”
About the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children
26 states—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Washington—are members of the compact.
The compact represents 80 percent of children whose parents are on active duty in the military.
States pay $1 per military child each year to cover expenses of the compact.
The number of children per state ranges from 182 in Iowa to 76,251 in Virginia.
Each state must form a council that includes representatives of school districts with a large military installation and the state superintendent.
Cheryl L. Serrano of the Fountain-Fort Carson School District in Colorado is the commission chair.
The Council of State Governments, through its National Center for Interstate Compacts, is the place states can go to address issues they share with other states. Over the past few years, CSG has worked with various agencies to develop compacts addressing the needs of children—the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and the Interstate Commission for Juveniles.
Compacts are contracts between two or more states, and can be enacted on a regional or national level. They address a range of issues.
The U.S. Constitution authorizes states to enact compacts in areas where states have traditionally exercised control and sovereignty.
Every state, on average, has adopted between 23 and 27 compacts. There are approximately 200 compacts in effect across the country, but 38 of them are inactive or dormant, according to Rick Masters, special counsel for The Council of State Governments.