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Missionfamily: Parents should know what the school compact does - and doesn't - do

Jun. 21, 2013 - 12:03PM   |  
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Now that 46 states have adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, military parents are hoping for improvements as their children make the transition from school to school during permanent change-of-station moves.

Over the last several years, states have adopted legislation aimed at bringing consistency to policies on enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility, graduation and more. Most state councils haven’t yet been able to comprehensively get the information and strategies to all their schools to actually implement the compact, said Mary Keller, president of the Military Child Education Coalition.

It’s a relatively new effort, and some parents are finding that their local schools aren’t even aware the compact exists. But that problem can be compounded by misconceptions that some military parents have about what the compact does and doesn’t do.

The compact can’t solve every single issue, and some misconceptions exist, Keller said:

■ Not every individual challenge related to graduation requirements is completely smoothed out. “This is only marginally addressed in the course requirements area,” Keller said, for example, state history. One solution is to negotiate a diploma from the child’s previous school.

■ The compact doesn’t exempt military-connected students at every grade from required state testing. “The compact addresses graduation and other mandatory state testing to be waived for transitioning students who move during the senior year,” Keller said.

■ The compact applies to public schools only. It doesn’t address transitions associated with home-schooling, private or parochial schools.

■ The compact is limited to children whose parents or guardians are on active duty — not National Guard or reserves.

■ Military parents may be better informed than school staffs. Keller said this can be an opportunity for parents to share information with the faculty.

If parents can’t get issues resolved through their school, they can contact their installation school liaison officer. They can also contact the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission; contact information is at www.mic3.net. The commission can help parents determine whether the issue is one addressed by the compact, and put parents in contact with their state council representative, who can, in turn, work with the local school district.

While the compact encourages flexibility related to transitioning students, the “engaged and informed parent is the most critical factor to help ensure smooth school transitions,” Keller said.

You are your child’s best advocate. That will never change.

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