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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
April is Month of the Military Child and a great opportunity to discuss the challenges facing students in military families as they move from state to state and school to school three times as often as their civilian peers. In a recent op-ed in the Daily Caller, former Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, discussed the importance of high, comparable education standards for military-connected students. "We owe them a better educational experience than what they’re currently receiving," Brewer writes.
Real Clear Defense: Is Education Our Military's Achilles Heel?
Active duty military men and women account for roughly 1 million sons and daughters needing a good, promising education in this country. Many of these students face the challenges of new schools, different teachers, and military parents not knowing the education progress their children are making. “Rigorous and comparable standards, especially in core subjects, are important to minimizing the disruptive impact of frequent moves,” Chairwoman of Military Family for High Standards Christi Ham writes. "How the states implement the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act will be the real test of their commitment to this effort.”
Richmond times-dispatch: How Virginia can improve education for military families
Virginia is a state where children of military families make up a large portion of the student population. A new report written by the Lexington Institute’s Don Soifer and the Collaborative for Student Success’ Jim Cowen explores how Virginia can help improve the education experience of the many military families living in the Commonwealth. The report found, Virginia “has made powerful strides in meeting the education needs of military families, but still has room to make significant improvements.” As Cowen and Soifer explained, “the challenges that military families face with their children’s education are not unique, just more complicated and more frequent.”
Washington Post: When troops worry about their kids’ schools, our military suffers
For service members, a major component of military readiness is knowing that as they move from base to base with family in tow, the quality of their children’s education doesn’t suffer. Military readiness is being negatively impacted because many military families are making decisions about whether to leave the Armed Forces or to accept a move to a particular duty station based in part on the quality of the surrounding schools. In a recent Washington Post article by the Collaborative's Jim Cowen, it is made clear that when troops worry about their kids, our military suffers.
THe Hill: The stealth factor in military readiness
The Collaborative’s Jim Cowen and Marcus Lingenfelter of the National Math and Science Initiative write about the education of military-connected students and its potential impact on military readiness. They argue, “Military families now make choices about whether to accept a particular duty station or, worse, even depart the armed forces based in part on the quality of the surrounding schools.” Highlighting the findings from a recent survey of Military Times readers, Cowen and Lingenfelter make the case for high, comparable standards for military-connected students.
Real Clear Defense: quality education imperative for military children
Military service necessitates a nomadic lifestyle, and while frequent moves are tough for adults, they can be even harder for children, writes Melissa Johnson, a military spouse. Moving every 18 months to two years, on average, is not a situation conducive to a consistent educational foundation. Comparable education standards, which have been adopted by military schools and most states, are “an obvious improvement for the one million military-connected children.” Likewise, the military student identifier will help ensure that students who move regularly do not fall through the cracks and will better ensure they get the support they need.
Our nation’s military families make incredible sacrifices to selflessly serve our country. Often, one of those sacrifices is the education of their children. Lack of consistent education standards should not be the cost to bear for so many of our military families. "It is imperative for policymakers in these 40-plus states to continue to stay the course on their high, consistent standards. It is the least they can do for military families," writes the former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Gen. James “Spider” Marks.
Given the frequency of moves made by military families — they relocate an average of six to nine times throughout a child’s K-12 career. As a result, the education of military children can suffer, with students disadvantaged by being either ahead of or behind their peers. That’s why military families around the country have responded with a new nationwide effort pushing for consistent and comparable education standards for children of all ages, for pre-K and K-12 students.
On average, military-connected children will move six to nine times during their K-12 career. “That’s why military families support high, consistent educational standards,” writes Melissa Johnson, a member of Military Families for High Standards. Rigorous, consistent standards “can lessen the jarring impact of a move,” and in most states the concerted effort to create greater comparability has raised classroom expectations.
HUFFINGTON POST: Military families have many stories
Highlighting Military Family Month, Military Families for High Standards Chairwoman Christi Ham writes that military families have many stories – stories that tend to revolve around frequent relocations. “Families feel displaced and yet they function with great resolve.”
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 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…”