Delaware, nicknamed "The First State," became the crucial 10th state to sign the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children July 17 when Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signed into law legislation to assist military children as their military parents move to new duty assignments. Adoption of the compact in 10 states was needed to make it operational.

Many military families traditionally move during the Summer months. With this signing at Dover High School in Dover, Del., the compact activates in the 10 states that have adopted it and for other states that later join. Kansas adopted the compact three months ago on April 9. Since then Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Oklahoma have adopted the compact. This cooperative compact simplifies issues such as the transfer of records, differing graduation requirements, or missed entrance and exit testing due to frequent moves by military families are addressed in the legislation. The process activating the compact will take about a year and a half, including creating an interstate commission on education opportunity for military children, with one voting representative from each of the 10 states.

"We want to thank the states who are participating in this important agreement among the states that will ease the moves by military school children from one state to another," said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren. "This important initiative will make that move a little easier for military kids and help with some of the family stress associated with moving to a new duty assignment."

Army Families with their children from Fort Sill, Okla., and in other participating states plan to present governors and state assembly members this week and next with signed thank you cards for helping to make a difference for Army children.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children -- developed by the Council of State Governments, education and military family experts, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army with support from the National Military Family Association -- addresses common problems that affect military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments. States that sign on to the compact agree to work together to create uniform standards of practice regarding the transfer of records, course placement, graduation requirements, redundant or missed testing, entrance-age variations and other transition issues.

Approximately 1.5 million children of military families attend schools other than those sponsored by the Department of Defense. Military families move about three times as often as their civilian counterparts, according to Defense officials.

Participating states, according to the Army Times story distributed nationwide July 14, are to:

-- "Provide a complete set of unofficial education records to parents, with uniform information agreed to by the commission, when official records cannot be released to parents. Schools then will enroll and place students based on the information in the unofficial records, pending validation by official records.
-- "Allow 30 days from the date of enrollment, or a time determined by the commission, for students to get any required immunizations.
-- "Allow students in kindergarten and first grade to continue their enrollment at the same grade level in a new school, regardless of age. States have different age requirements for entering school.
-- "Allow initial placement in courses based on a student's enrollment in a previous school - such as honors, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement or vocational.
-- "Provide initially comparable services to a student with disabilities based on their current Individualized Education Program and make reasonable changes and accommodations to address the needs of incoming students with disabilities.
-- "Give local education officials flexibility to waive course prerequisites or other conditions for placement in courses and programs.
-- "Provide additional excused absences, at the discretion of local education officials, for a child to visit with a parent or legal guardian who has immediately returned from deployment to, or is on leave from, a combat zone or combat-support posting.
-- "Give transitioning military children opportunities to take part in extracurricular activities, even if they arrive at their new school after application deadlines.
-- "Offer waivers for specific courses required for graduation if similar course work has been satisfactorily completed in another jurisdiction.
-- "Do everything possible to facilitate graduation for students transferring during their senior year - to include getting a diploma from a previous school district if a student meets requirements."

"We're very pleased with the quick pace of progress," Keith Scott, director of the national center for interstate compacts at the Council of State Governments, told the Army Times. "I believe this says the states have recognized there's a common-sense solution to a long set of problems that have plagued military members and their children."

More information on the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunities for Military Children can be found at the Council of State Governments' web site: http://www.csg.org/programs/ncic/EducatingMilitaryChildrenCompact.aspx

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Page last updated Thu July 24th, 2008 at 13:55