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States aim to relieve stress on military children with education benefits

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Watching my daughter, Brittany, adjust to life as a student in her fourth high school in four years, I can certainly empathize with the sacrifices our military families often make to support our service to this great nation. One may think it should be an easy transition since she has practice: Niceville High School is the 11th school she's attended in the last twelve years. In spite of her flexibility it is always a challenge for any new student to adjust, both academically and socially. 

Brittany's experience is similar to that of most military children--the average military student faces transition challenges more than twice during high school, and most will have six to nine different school systems in their lives from kindergarten to 12th grade. Deployments also add another dynamic to the military family environment. 

It's reassuring to know Florida recognizes the challenges faced by military families and supports our mission. Florida is making efforts to help our children meet their educational goals so maybe Brittany's two younger sisters and all military families will have it a bit easier when they end up moving so their parents can continue serving.
Since June 2008, Governor Charlie Crist has been legally authorized and directed to make Eglin's home state an active participant in the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children. Currently there are 12 other states represented and 19 others have proposed legislation. I believe this initiative will attract the needed attention among all 50 states when they witness the success of the program.

There are several great benefits for our families and I'd like to share a few with you. Transfer of records will become easier with former schools issuing temporary transcripts as needed and acceptance by partner school for grade level placement. Exclusion from extra-curricular activities gives our children an opportunity to continue school academic programs based on prior participation or educational assessments by the former school. Graduation requirements can be met on time by accepting similar course work, acceptance of exit examinations and end-of-course testing from the student's former state.

Looking ahead for our children's future, issues will continue to be addressed when Interstate Compact establishes a State Council of Commissioner of Educations.

The local school district here is already making progress by doing most of the above because they are personally engaged with Eglin's mission. It definitely helps my family sleep better at night knowing that our community and nation not only recognizes the sacrifice our families make, but also supports them with state-level assistance. Future Eglin team members will benefit as well--family members of the Army's 7th Special Forces group will be able to use the Interstate Compact benefits when they move.

As an expeditionary military, our families are asked to be flexible in managing their own lives, professional goals and social activities. For our children, it's tough accepting a new school, new friends and a new environment each time we move duty locations. With initiatives from our government, we have another level of support to take care of some of those stress factors for us while we have more time to share in the joy of being a family with the ones we hold near and dear.

(Editor's note; An Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children Resource Kit can be found on the CSG website.)

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