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School leaders talk transitions

5 Feb 2010 | Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

Combat Center educational representatives met with officials from the Morongo Unified School District for the Military Child Education Coalition Transition Counselors Institute seminar in the Officers’ Club Mesa Room here Feb. 2-3.

During the seminar, members from organizations like the Marine Corps Family Team Building Office, and the Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program, discussed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children with local school officials.

MCEC focuses on making transitions easier for children who are forced to change schools when their parents are assigned to a new duty station, said Tina Paulson, the Combat Center school liaison.

“[The Interstate Compact] was signed into law by the state of California Jan. 15,” said Paulson, a Tucson, Ariz., native.

An Interstate Compact is an agreement, with the consent of Congress, between two or more states. These agreements often result in the creation of a governmental agency which is responsible for administering or improving some shared resource like the MCEC – the agency created as a result of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children, according to its Web site, http://www.militarychild.org/whats-happening/inter state-compact/.

Dave Price, the director of student services with the Morongo Unified School District, said the Compact should help military children change schools more smoothly.

“Mostly, it makes sure everyone’s aware of the needs of military children and families around deployments, and the needs of the military,” said Price, a San Bernardino, Calif., native. “It also gives school districts a place to start to establish the accommodations available.”

Paulson said there are several problems transitioning military families run into when enrolling their children in a new school.

“A lot of the time, and especially at the high school level, tryouts for sports or deadlines to join school clubs have came and gone by the time the child is enrolled,” she said. “This agreement gives transitioning military students the same opportunities to participate.”

Zoe Trautman, the lead trainer during the seminar and Burke, Va., native, said another issue facing military families, is the length of time children spend out of school with parents scheduled to deploy overseas.

“We understand children need to see their parents before they deploy,” Trautman said. “When deployments come, some parents keep their children out of school for weeks at a time. Usually 10 days is the norm. We just can’t have children missing weeks and weeks of school.”

Paulson said the Compact also standardizes each participating state’s graduation requirements for high school students.

Currently, 26 states have signed the Compact.

“There are still a few states on the fence,” said Paulson. “But 26 is a lot of states. It’s a huge difference from last year because there were only 11 states under the agreement.”

For more information on MCEC or the Interstate Compact, visit http://www.militarychild.org/whats-happening.

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