DOD report ranks Ohio in the middle for support for military families
(Tribune News Service) — Ohio doesn't especially stand out in a just-released Department of Defense assessment of how well states educate children of military families and how well states welcome professionally licensed military spouses as they try to find employment after a move.
The report, titled "Support of Military Families 2021," grades states by colors. "Green" states are seen as "highly supportive of military families," while "yellow" states are "moderately supportive," with red states regarded as "least supportive."
Schools were judged on several criteria, including student-to-teacher ratios, graduation rates and more. States were measured as well on how well they eliminate barriers to license portability for military spouses.
In terms of licensure portability, only eight states and Washington, D.C., were graded as green. Two states were red, and 41, including Ohio, received a "yellow" ranking.
The nearest green state to Ohio is Michigan.
Ohio appears to fall in the middle of the pack in most categories, despite recent well publicized efforts to make the state more friendly to military families and retirees.
The ranking matters to Pentagon decision-makers. If a state is welcoming to military families, the Department of Defense notices. And if the DOD notices, then so do defense-sector employers.
Making the Buckeye State more welcoming to military families and retirees has long been a priority for state leaders. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with north of 30,000 military and civilian employees, is the state's largest employer at one site.
In a virtual signing ceremony in June 2020, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 16, a bill said to benefit Wright-Patterson families who move into Ohio but don't automatically qualify for lower in-state college tuition reserved for longtime state residents.
The governor also signed Ohio Senate Bill 7 in a January 2020 visit to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. That bill requires state occupational licensing agencies to issue temporary licenses or certificates to uniformed service members and their spouses who are validly licensed in another jurisdiction and have moved to Ohio for military duty.
Another change: Retirement pay received for service on military active duty or the National Guard or Reserves, as well as pay received by surviving spouses, has been exempt from the Ohio income tax since 2008.
Wright-Patterson received an overall "yellow" rating for the array of public schools around the base, falling within the middle 33 percent of all Air Force installations as assessed.
In education, absenteeism and pre-kindergarten education are graded as "red." Suspension rates get a "yellow" grade.
A change from 2019: The overall education rating for schools near Wright-Patt did not shift, "However," the report added, "graduation rates shifted from yellow to red while student-to-teacher ratios shifted from red to yellow."
Ohio received an overall yellow rating for licensure portability, indicating state statutes "contain barriers to licensure and certification portability for military spouses," the report said, adding: "This assessment was awarded for issuing of temporary licenses."
Ohio also provides temporary licensure with no supervisory requirements for the law profession, the report noted.
"Although Ohio has enacted legislation to join the Physical Therapy Compact, as of the time of this assessment, the compact benefits are not yet being provided to military spouses as additional requirements need to be met in order for Ohio to fully receive all of the compact privileges," the report said.
The compact is described as an "agreement between member states to improve access to physical therapy services for the public by increasing the mobility of eligible physical therapy providers to work in multiple states."
Said the report: "Barriers remain for all occupations as they include language that state boards 'may' issue a temporary license (for) certification to military spouses rather than 'shall' issue."
And the report points to barriers for "other occupations" as current statutes do not exclude any other occupations from licensure portability burdens.
The report says it relied on "publicly available, reputable third-party sources" for its data.
Education data is from the Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection and EDFacts, and Stanford Education Data Archive.
The reports can be found here.
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