By Lt. Col. Len Gratteri, Delaware National GuardJuly 17, 2008
DOVER, Del. (July 18, 2008) -- Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signed House Bill 297 Thursday, making Delaware the tenth state to ratify the Aca,!A"Compact on Education Transition for Military Children.Aca,!A? Adoption of the compact in10 states was needed to make it operational.
"It is certainly gratifying to witness this most momentous occasion, as Delaware becomes the all-important tenth state to improve the compact and making its vision a reality," said Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of Defense for military community and family policy, at the bill-signing ceremony in Dover.
The compact was developed by the Council of State Governments, education and military family experts and the Department of Defense to address common problems active duty members encounter as they change assignments.
"This compact will facilitate a smoother transition, from state to state and school to school, by lifting a tremendous burden from our military families and greatly enhancing the quality of their lives," Arsht said.
Compact commissioners from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma will now meet to establish an Interstate Commission. The Commission will work to create uniform standards of practice regarding education requirements the member states will follow.
"I have been waiting for this bill for 20 years," said Col. Steven Harrison, 436th Airlift Wing commander at Dover Air Force Base, Del. "In my 20-year career we've moved 12 times, my daughters went to three separate high schools, and it was always a tremendous challenge."
"This is exactly what we need," he said, in reference to the compact.
The Interstate Commission will work to reconcile the variations in graduation requirements, course content, student assessment and eligibility for extra-curricular activities. These standards should allow military children to easily transfer schools between member states.
"This gives my daughter a chance to focus on her AP classes and preparing for college, instead of repeating various classes because of the difference in school curriculum," said Master Sgt. Juanita Thomas, 436th Operations Support Squadron first sergeant.
The rules established by the Interstate Commission to ease the transition of military children will only apply to those states that have signed on to the compact. The North Carolina legislature has approved the compact, which is currently awaiting the governor's signature, while 10 other state legislatures are considering the compact.
"This bill sends the message that we in Delaware take care of our military," said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Delaware National Guard adjutant general. "Not just the men and women of our Delaware National Guard, but all of those who serve in the First State. Our active-duty component and counterparts certainly deserve this legislation."
(2nd Lt. Brian Maguire contributed to this story and serves with the 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office at Dover Air Force Base, Del.)