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Kids’ education a growing concern for mil families

An increasing number of military spouses and servicemembers are worried about their children’s education in civilian schools, according to a recent survey by Blue Star Families, a non-profit group for military families.

The group conducted surveys in 2009 and 2010 on the key issues facing military families. The percentage of respondents who listed their children’s education as their top concern rose from 3 to 12 percent.

Many parents worried that having to attend a new school with every permanent change of station move was hurting their children’s education, the executive summary said.

“Moving from state to state, school to school causes huge gaps in the education process,” one person who responded to the survey wrote. “Every state has its own standards and requirements for graduation. Many children have to change classes and even take extra classes to meet all the requirements to graduate on time or spend 5-6 years in high school.”

The increase in concern about education could reflect a growing awareness of an effort among 37 states to standardize course placement, transferring records and graduation requirements for children in military families, said Vivian Greentree, director of research and policy for Blue Star Families.

“They realize that it’s not just a personal problem, but it’s something that all military families have gone through and there’s ways we can address it through a standardized format,” she said.

The survey also found that 34 percent of respondents had little or no confidence that their children’s civilian schools were responsive to their needs as a military family.

“My children do not attend schools that are equipped with helping military children,” one person wrote. “My children attend public schools and do not have peers, teacher, administrators or counselors who can even fathom the life of a military child. As a result, my child does not have a safe place at school to express her feelings of sadness, and anger.”

Here are some other comments from the survey:

“Recognize that moving families means moving children between schools. It is one thing to move a child from a school in Texas to a school in Kentucky. It is another thing to have to change schools multiple times in Kentucky because of housing issues on and off post. Children should be allowed to remain in the same school even if their family must move to a different area of post. Post schools should be available for families living off post who are on the waiting list for on post housing, so that the children do not have to be uprooted when housing becomes available.”

“I worry about gaps in their education, changing schools and not ever picking up exactly where they left off. I worry about them feeling anonymous when they move to a new school and feel like they aren't part of the community”

“My children’s problems were more due to the fact that their teachers had no idea what a deployment really meant and how deep a concern it would be for older children who do understand the dangers of said deployment. The teachers would tell them to 'get over it' and that instead of being worried, that they should 'feel proud.'"

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