Kansas and Kentucky have enacted laws intended to ease the educational transition for military children as their parents move with different assignments to new locations. The laws establish the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which was developed by The Council of State Governments and the U.S. Department of Defense and will become operational when it’s adopted in eight other states.
Twenty-one other states are actively considering the measure, known as the Compact on Education Transition for Military Children, and 14 of those state legislatures have submitted bills in one or both chambers. Kansas adopted the compact April 9, and Kentucky followed suit April 10. Adoption in 10 states makes the compact operational.
"We are thrilled that Kansas and Kentucky are leading the nation in seeking uniform standards for school transition for military children," said Leslye A. Arsht, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.
Work to develop the compact began in October 2006, when CSG convened an advisory group and formed a drafting team to identify the issues the compact will resolve upon enactment. By 2007, the groups completed the draft bill, which was presented to state legislators in December.
The compact addresses common problems that affect military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments. States that sign on to it agree to work collectively with other compact states to create uniform standards of practice, including the transfer of records, course placement, graduation requirements, redundant or missed testing, entrance-age variations and other transition issues.
"Passage of this interstate compact will have a lasting, positive impact on our military families," said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "Quality education is a primary quality-of-life concern. In fact, education is so important that that it directly impacts military recruitment, satisfaction with assignments, readiness, and ultimately, retention.”
About 1.5 million children of military families attend schools other than those sponsored by the Defense Department, and military families move about three times as often as their civilian counterparts, Arsht said. This legislation will positively affect the 19,000 school-age children of military families residing in Kansas and 30,834 school-age children in Kentucky, she noted.
Kentucky Sen. Tom Buford, who sponsored the legislation in the state’s Senate, said the compact is needed to provide a responsible education for the children in military families.
“The United States can remain the world's leading superpower and one of the world's most influential nations only when we as individual states stand up for our military and their families,” he said.
Arsht said the compact means a lot to military families. "Once in force, it means that a move to a new school will no longer prevent students from taking the classes they want or deny them extra-curricular activities. They won't have to repeat a class or delay graduation because they are completing a new state's requirements. The compact creates consistency and certainty for families as they move from one school to another,” she said.
"Our families also serve our nation. We are grateful for this tangible way states are showing their appreciation."