PEARL CITY, Hawaii - Mainland representatives from the National Interstate Compact Commission in Kentucky met with members of the Hawaii State Educational Opportunity for Military Children, here, April 15.

The group is also referred to as the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission or MIC3.

Attendees discussed ways to improve the quality of education and addressed unique challenges for children of military families.

Rep. K. Mark Takai from the Hawaii House of Representatives, military leaders, Hawaii Department of Education officials and educators convened at Lehua Elementary School, here, the host school for the session.

"Our military children, just like our local children, deserve the very best," Takai said. "We work tirelessly to meet the special needs and demands of being a military child."

Lehua is one of 45 schools in Hawaii that has a significant population of military students. Faye Toyama, principal, Lehua Elementary, said that 61 percent of her students are military, according to the school's official enrollment count day in August 2010.

"The interstate compact is important for all students to continue their education ... with the least amount of interruption, especially at the primary school level when the basic foundations are established for lifelong learning," Toyama said.

"When students are enrolled after the school year starts, they are missing out on learning, as well as the social aspects of being among peers," Toyama added. "The compact allows for students to transition as smoothly as possible when their parents are transferred from one duty station to another."

Norman Arflack, retired brigadier general and executive director, National Interstate Compact Commission, and Rick Masters, legal counsel to the commission, highlighted the significance of military families and the importance of the compact for military children.

"If every state had the organization and structure Hawaii has, there would no challenges. You have broken the code here in Hawaii," Arflack said.

Masters noted that other states look to Hawaii as a model and that Hawaii is one of the most active state models in the nation.

"Other states monitor what is being done here," he said. "This is what the compact is about."

So far, 36 states have joined the interstate compact. According to Arflack, the 36 states that are currently members of the compact represent almost 78 percent of the military student population in the nation.

The goal is for all 50 states and U.S. territories to eventually be part of the compact. Six states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Nebraska, North Dakota and Nevada, currently have pending legislation.

Arflack said that Hawaii also has the largest number of representatives in military uniform; the participation between all military branches and the Department of Education is an important part of Hawaii's program, which makes it so successful.

"It's important to have (military) senior leaders sitting around the table with educators and making decisions," Arflack said.

"We have considerable participation from all branches of the military (Department of Defense) and homeland security with the Coast Guard," Takai said. "We go to the mainland, and we are one of the models that other states look to for guidance."

"We have a really nice working model here (in Hawaii)," said Kathleen Berg, a retired brigadier general who serves as the state commissioner for Hawaii for MIC3. "There needs to be a lot of sharing among states."

Hawaii joined the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children for two years in 2009. Currently, the legislature is discussing reauthorization of the law, which was introduced by Takai.

To learn more about the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, visit militaryfamily.k12.hi.us or www.mic3.net.

Page last updated Fri April 29th, 2011 at 20:41