For children of military members, change is something that comes with the territory.

Although change can make things difficult, knowing what types of changes to expect can help ease the transition. On Oct. 19, Kathy Cox, state superintendent of schools for the Georgia Department of Education, visited Fort McPherson to educate military members of changes taking place in Georgia schools that will affect their children's education.

In order to make Georgia children competitive and increase per capita income for their generation, schools have been overhauling their curriculum, putting more emphasis on math.

"When we have low expectations for our kids in math, we're lowering them all around," Cox said. "We can do a whole lot better, which is why we're focusing on math and science."

Following the lead of Massachusetts, which implemented a program that helped increase its school children's math scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) test, Georgia is now requiring students to complete four years of math and science. Georgia is only the fifth state, in addition to Washington D.C., to implement this change.

One effect this has on children from military Families is that students must take the Georgia graduation test in 11th grade. This test covers the entire curriculum learned throughout high school, Cox said.

She stressed that parents need to learn what their children should have been taught to ensure they are up to date.

"You have to meet the standards, so talk with teachers to see what the standards are, what they are doing, and to make sure they are reaching the standards," Cox said. "Military Families need to make sure they (their children) get info they may have missed because the test covers all grades."

Another issue raised was Georgia Senate bill 114, which allows excused absences for children of Soldiers when their parent is preparing for or returning from a deployment or during leave from that deployment.

The focus on military children is important because they make up a large percentage of children enrolled in Georgia schools. Next to Texas, Georgia has the most military students enrolled, Cox said.

Col. Deborah B. Grays, U.S. Army Garrison commander, said it is equally important for the military to reach out to the state school system.

"If we don't reach out to you, how will your doors be open to our children," she said.
Cox's visit, as part of the Military School / Parent Summit event, was a unique visit, Grays said, noting that most people don't get a chance to ask questions with their state superintendent of schools.

Cox said that the visit was important because she has relatives in the military (a niece in the Air Force and a nephew in the Navy) and can understand the strain it can place on a military child's education.

"Our students are like Soldiers. We don't just want to increase numbers. We want them properly trained and educated," she said. "We're staying focused on the mission: to produce a better student."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16