- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ANNAPOLIS | Maryland is among 22 states where lawmakers are considering joining an interstate compact to help children in military families transfer between school districts more easily. Eleven states already got started last year.

Maryland officials expect the state to get up to 28,000 new households from military base closure and realignment in coming years, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Tuesday.

“Let’s ease the transition. Let’s join 11 other states and do the right thing,” Mr. Brown, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, testified before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee.

Children in military families change schools an average of six to nine times between kindergarten and 12th grade because of how often active-duty parents must move. States that join the compact agree to work together to develop uniform standards to address several issues.

Those include helping children avoid problems with transferring academic records. They can be placed in classes incorrectly because their official transcripts don’t arrive on time, and different prerequisite requirements between states also can interfere with placement.

The agreement also aims to address different graduation requirements among states. A growing number of states are requiring exit exams, creating more difficulties in transferring from school to school than in the past.

The compact also tries to help students remain in extracurricular activities they could otherwise miss because of the timing of their arrival at a new school.

Military supporters of the compact say it will help the armed forces, because problems with children being uprooted from their homes are often a major reason people leave active duty.

Candice Wheeler, deputy director for government relations for the National Military Families Association, said the compact not only helps children, but also aids states in accommodating new students.

“By uniting with other states in the compact, each state will become a better sending and receiving state of our military children, thus helping to ensure that they have the educational opportunities they deserve,” Ms. Wheeler said at the hearing.

Maryland estimates that up to 2,500 new students from military families will relocate to the state in coming years.

Mary Gable, director of instructional programs with the Maryland State Department of Education, said the department supports the bill and will work with local school systems to ensure consistency of procedures in implementing the compact.

Last year in Maryland, lawmakers decided to form a task force to study the issue before joining. The task force recommended the state join in December.

The 11 states that have joined include: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

The first meeting of the compact’s independent governing body took place in October.

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