Belvoir teens meet with Secretary of Education
May 11, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May10) --Several teenagers with ties to Fort Belvoir met with Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, April 16 at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building in Washington D.C.
Izaiah Robinson, LaTarryl Hall and Kathleen Anderson, met with Secretary Duncan, DOE representatives and other area teens to discuss the obstacles military children face when changing schools.
The teens talked about wanting course catalogs available to them when they meet with their guidance counselor for the first time and not having to repeat courses.
Robinson, a senior at Osbourn Park High School, said he did not have a course catalog available when he met with his counselor this past summer to select his classes.
"She was trying to remember the classes off the top of her head," Robinson said. "If I had a course selection packet I would be able to take classes I wanted instead of classes she remembered."
Tish Anderson, Child, Youth and School Services, health specialist, attended the event with a group of parents. She said her daughter, Kathleen, told the representatives she has taken the same American History class three times and has yet to take a civics class.
"That's one of the issues when military children transfer is they don't always get credit for the classes they've taken at a previous school," Anderson said. "My daughter is a senior in high school and has taken the same history class for three straight years."
Having programs in place to welcome the teens their new school is another improvement the teens said they want to see.
"One of the teens at the meeting said she started a program in her school where all the military kids in the school would meet and get to know one another at the beginning of the year," Robinson said. "It would be beneficial if more schools had programs like that since we don't know anyone when we first get to a new school."
Air Force Families at the meeting said one change they want to see is changing installations soon enough to participate in school lotteries, according to Anderson. School lotteries allow parents to send their child to the school that best fits the child's academic needs, but because most military Families move to their new installation during the summer, they don't get to their new post in-time to participate in the lottery.
Secretary Duncan's decision to have the meeting is viewed as a courageous move by the parents and the teens. They feel Duncan and his representatives genuinely want to improve the process military children endure when they change schools.
"Children speak the truth," said Anderson. "I think it is a big plus that Secretary Duncan took time to ask the children their perspective."
She also said she doesn't think the teens realize how impactful their words could be.
"I'm not sure the children realize they were speaking for more than themselves," said Anderson. "They were speaking for the entire military community."