By Tina Ray/ParaglideNovember 18, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The local and surrounding counties' education system provides substantial acaemic support to Fort Bragg. Because Fort Bragg has no high school, school age military Family members attend local high schools. And since about 80 percent of Fort Bragg Families live off post, their children also attend off post elementary and middle schools.
Next school year, ninth graders at Albritton will move to schools in Cumberland and Harnett counties, increasing the number of Fort Bragg children cared for educationally off the installation.
The care of those children off post was highlighted by Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, at the biannual education meeting held Nov. 10 at Fort Bragg Club.
The meeting brought together representatives from neighboring school districts and other education professionals to discuss the care of military-connected children in schools.
"Our children are our most precious resource," Sicinski said. "We take care of the child because we know we are a forward-thinking nation."
Points of discussion at the meeting Nov. 10 included two initiatives supported by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction - Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards.
RTT will deliver more than $400 million to North Carolina public schools, said Tracey Greggs, section chief, kindergarten through 12th grade social studies, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Two issues addressed by RTT were retaining great teachers and principals and turning around low-achieving schools.
CCSS has been adopted by 45 states, including North Carolina, and will ensure that academic expectations are consistent for all children, regardless of a student's zip code, Greggs said. It will enable children to become globally competitive and to be college or military ready upon graduation.
"We all have the obligation to serve children based on need," said Frank Till, superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, one of many superintendents at the meeting. Cumberland County Schools supports CCCS standards, Till said.
The educational care of Fort Bragg's children transcends the state level. Charles Boyer, special advisor for military affairs at the U.S. Department of Education attended the meeting to gather feedback from local officials to take back to the federal level. One recommendation he received was the establishment of a school liaison officer for each state.
There are more than 130,000 military-connected children across the state, said Shevelle Godwin, SLO.
Officers have visited different regional schools to make sure that the needs of those children are being met and that no child is left behind, she said.
As with many challenges facing educating children for a global society, the matter of providing more funding for school construction and afterschool programs was also discussed.
With 61 percent of Harnett County children identified as federally connected, more funding is needed for smaller class sizes, said superintendent Phil Ferrell.
With the influx of students, class sizes have increased.
The Army Youth Programs in Your Neighborhood, for ages 11 to 18, subsidizes afterschool care spaces for active-duty Army Families, Army civilians and activated Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers, said Larry Dixon of the U.S. Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.
The education meeting upholds Fort Bragg's commitment to renew its focus on community relations, ensuring a high quality of life for Soldiers, Families and civilians.