Plan to help military kids ease into new schools

Filed under: Work Life, Day Care & Education

For military families, packing up and moving is a way of life. For children in these families, that means changing schools an average of six to nine times between kindergarten and 12th grade. Those kids must not only adjust to constantly being the new kid, but for many of them, changing schools can mean losing the academic ground they may have gained in another state. For example, when Rear Adm. Len Hering, commander of the Navy's Southwest region, moved his family from Maryland to California, his son was forced to repeat physical education classes and enroll in state history classes in order to take his place in the senior class where he belonged. "He was denied AP Calculus and AP Chemistry. He took badminton with 9th graders and a third history course," Hering said.

The difficulty of uprooting children is cited as a major reason people leave active duty. Legislation is now being considered in Maryland and other states that would help ease the transition to new schools by directing states receiving military transfers to:
  • accept temporary transcripts for class placement until official records are received
  • allow a grace period for children to meet local vaccination requirements
  • honor memberships in honor societies
  • waive or allow substitutions for state-specific exit exams required for high school graduation
  • waive the requirement to take basic state history courses in every new state
Currently, there are at least 24 states considering some version of this agreement, which would take effect after 10 states approve it. And while educators are mostly behind the measure, there are some state officials who are worried about ceding state authority.

"There are 50 sets of requirements out there, and every state thinks theirs are the highest and the best, and they need to acknowledge they need to work for people serving our country," says William Harrison, superintendent of schools in Cumberland County, N.C.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.