Washington examiner: the armed forces have an education problem

Even as our military seeks to expand in the face of growing global challenges, it’s become harder for our armed forces to find and retain qualified recruits, in part because of education. “In the case of new recruits, it is estimated that only about 25 percent of Americans aged 17-24 meet the current requirements to serve,” writes Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards. Those who do make it in often follow their civilian counterparts in getting married and having children. This is where the retention problem comes in. 

huff post: a discouraging report on educational progress

Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman Christi Ham highlighted the “disappointing” results of the Collaborative for Student Success and Bellwether Education Partners Check State Plans independent peer review of the 34 second-round state ESSA plans. While “these evaluations are important because they were a comprehensive, bipartisan look at the way states will implement their vision for educational improvement under the new law,” Ham notes that, “In many cases, state plans indicate that states plan to do little more than comply with federal law – overlooking their responsibility to provide all students with a high-quality education.”

militaryspouse.com: nine tips to add to your kid's school TRANSITION

A Military Family’s Guide to School Transitions has nine tips, including the following: organize school records; compile school contact information; familiarize yourself with the school curriculum; know your child’s interests; connect with school liaisons; get to know your local school board; meet with school’s special needs director; get familiar with the interstate compact; and take advantage of the plethora of military parent resources.

washington times: retaining armed forces with better schools

“Our armed forces have a manpower problem,” says retired U.S. Army general Ann Dunwoody and Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman Christi Ham. And it’s not just because of recruitment issues: retaining our current forces is equally important. But “these men and women are increasingly concerned about their choice of the military as a career,” particularly when it comes to the education of their children. While the “nomadic nature of military life” is attractive to young, single recruits, it becomes less so when service members have families. Frequent moves “take their toll in many ways,” and many military families “would prefer spending more time in one station, especially if the schools are good.” This finding is backed up by a Military Times survey from earlier this year, which asked current and former military personnel questions on education issues.

HuffPost: The Military Student Identifier May Be a Game-Changer for Many Helping Military-Connected Children

Chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards Christi Ham wants “to take a few minutes to look at one of the most interesting developments in recent history regarding military-connected children—the creation of the military student identifier (MSI).” This provision of the ESSA law “promises to give states the ability to help ensure the success of military-connected children in our public schools across the country.” Through the MSI, “administrators will gain new insights on their military-connected learners, including academic progress and proficiency, special and advanced program participation, mobility and dropout rates, and patterns over time across states and districts lines.”

HuffPost: When It Comes To Basic Skills For High School Seniors, We Still Have Work To Do

Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards notes, there are obvious economic consequences to failing to “create a group of individuals that are college and career ready.” But there are also consequences for our military readiness. “As a lifelong educator and wife of a former career soldier,” Ham says, “I can report that this failure to prepare our young men and women impacts our military too,” which must “spend time and resources on remedial or ‘basic skills’ courses.” And “as our military becomes even more high-tech, we need more servicemen and women with college-level reading and math skills to operate 21st century armaments.” Find out what Ham proposes as a solution! 

Proceedings today: educating kids is a readiness issue

Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen and National Math + Science Initiative Vice President of State and Federal Programs Marcus Lingenfelter write that one “key factor in the degradation of military readiness involves a very personal element: service members and their young families.” If you ask any service member, “he or she will tell you that the quality of education for their children is of top priority.” 

huffpost: why we fight

Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman Christi Ham recently reviewed the results of two recent polls  - Education Next and Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) -  regarding Americans’ attitudes toward education policy and shared her thoughts on HuffPost. "These results are very important. They show that the public supports high-quality, consistent educational opportunities. They also support assessments that show whether or not our kids are learning what they are supposed to know," says Ham. 

Real Clear Education: MAking Life Easier for the new kids in the class

Frequent moves “have led to questions about the academic challenges these 1.2 million military-connected students face.” says Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman Christi Ham. But now, under ESSA, “for the first time ever, we have the opportunity to get answers to these questions, if states are willing to take the steps necessary to find them.”

huffpost: Sharing Essential Knowledge Is Essence of Military Student Identifier

Chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards Christi Ham discusses how challenging it can be to ensure a consistent, high-quality educational experience for military-connected students, whose families, on average, move “up to nine times during a child’s K-12 years.” But until recently, there has been little hard data—just “anecdotal conclusions at best”—regarding this significant group of U.S. students. The “sharing of knowledge,” writes Christi Ham, “is vital for educators devising new policies that guide the education of 1.2 million children of U.S. service members.”

military spouse: making life easier for the new kids in class

Christi Ham, chairwoman for Military Families for High Standards, highlights four recommendations from the Lexington Institute Report aimed at making new school transitions for military-connected students easier. Ham discusses her own experiences as a military spouse and her undeniable need to have you kids attend the best schools available. 

HuffPost: summertime brings challenges to military families   

Most kids look forward to the summer. No school, more time with friends, and family trips to the beach. But for many military families summer isn’t always as easy. Christi Ham, chairwoman for Military Families for High Standards, delves into the myriad of challenges these families face when making a move depending on the distance, age of their children, and registration deadlines – just to name a few.

The hill: Children in Military Families need more support   

Collaborative for Student Success Executive Director Jim Cowen amplifies one of the major challenges facing our nation’s military families. “What sets military families apart in terms of the education of their children is that they are highly nomadic — military-connected students attend as many as nine schools during their K-12 years. As a result, more than one million military-connected children, most of whom attend public schools, change schools at a rate far exceeding that of their civilian counterparts,” Cowen writes. 

huffpost: get ready for that next move   

To help navigate military family's educational concerns pertaining to new school transitions, Military Families for High Standards has compiled a helpful new document titled, A Military Family’s Guide to School Transitions. “These tools help them navigate through the chaos that inevitably comes when they prepare to move to their next adventure.” Unfortunately, “finding a guide for choosing the school that’s right for our children or getting them prepared for that new school in a new state,” hasn’t always been easily available, Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards writes. 

huffpost: Recognizing the Needs of Military-Connected Children at the Highest Levels

Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards, urges Secretary DeVos to convene a working group to ensure the children of our men and women serving in the military have access to a quality education.  The main goal of the working group is to remove as many hurdles as possible so that military-connected children are better prepared for post-secondary success. Ham writes, “To ensure that all military-connected students have access to a quality education, we need high, consistent standards. We want to ensure that these children do not fall through the cracks.”

Fayetteville Observer: Help Army Families by Improving Education

Lexington Institute Executive Vice President Don Soifer and Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman Christi Ham encourage schools to “continue to their push to teach to the state’s high educational standards,” and “work to take full advantage of the information gleaned from the state’s military student identifier.” A recent assessment of several states with large military populations by the Lexington Institute found that military families face a number of education obstacles, with the performance of students varying dramatically depending on geography.

huffpost: Moving Shouldn’t Be So Hard

In honor of Month of the Military Child, Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards, highlights a few of the most challenging stories from military families. These challenges reflect “the need for high, consistent standards in all schools and assessments that measure outcomes with comparable results could change the endings to all these stories," Ham writes. 

Huffpost: A Salute to our younger heroes from an army trailblazer

Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards, highlights her discussion of military-connected students with the Army’s first female four-star general, Ann Dunwoody. “While Gen. Dunwoody praises the many services and programs available to assist families with military moves today, she also puts a backward-looking mirror on the present for us as she highlights just how long these issues of curriculum, coursework and athletics have been taxing military-dependent learners,” Ham writes. “Gen. Dunwoody offers an ‘I salute you!’ to all those involved in proposing real change to the systems that educate service children. And in turn, we salute those younger heroes who are the inspiration and purpose behind our requests for that real and valid educational change.” 

Huffpost: k-12 schooling issues weigh heavily on u.s. service members

“Given the law of averages, every military family is bound to be posted to at least one base serviced by poor schools,” Christi Ham, chairwoman of Military Families for High Standards, recently wrote in the HuffPost. It’s no wonder why many military families say dissatisfaction with their child’s education was or is a significant factor in deciding whether to continue their service. Ham highlights the importance of acknowledging the sacrifices military-connected students and their families make for our country, and how we can better serve them academically by ensuring access to consistent, high standards wherever they move.


National Military Family Association: "The Common Core: What Do Military Families Need to Know?" 

"At one time, almost every military family had a story about moving to a new school district only to find their children were far ahead – or far behind – because standards in their old and new school were so different. The Common Core addresses this problem by implementing a uniform set of high standards, so kids and their families know what is expected when they move to a new school."

The Hill: "High Education Standards and the US Military"

“The news is filled with stories about how U.S. children are slipping way behind other countries when it comes to key educational benchmarks. But the corollary is that these children grow up -- and as a result of the poor or inconsistent education standards in their younger years, many Americans don't have the grounding to be successful in higher education without remedial classes.”

The Daily Caller: "The Army’s Number One Need For The Future: Smarter Recruits"

"The U.S. Army is facing one of its greatest threats since it became an all-volunteer force back in 1973. The failure of our education systems to produce well-educated, high-school graduates is threatening its ability to protect our country."

U.S. News & World Report: “Military Families Need Common Core”

“One of the lessons quickly learned by U.S. military service members is that you move. And move often. On average, a service member moves every two to three years. For those with a family, this can mean six to nine different schools at as many bases during a child’s elementary and high school years…”

St Louis Post Dispatch: “How to keep the Army in Missouri: Improve the schools”

“If local communities want to hedge against future troop cuts in our area, they should pay very close attention to the quality of schools in and around military installations, because the Army certainly is…”