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Consider Military Kids…They Also Serve!

03.26.2013, by Susan Conolly

The Military Child Education Coalition ® (MCEC®) asks that our nation’s political leaders, regardless of party affiliation, consider the kids.  The current sequestration cuts will impact the education of the over 1.2 million military-connected children who are in grades K-12.  We ask our lawmakers to consider working together in a bipartisan way toward achieving a well thought-out Federal budget plan.

Every school district in America has military-connected children and youth.  Over 80 % of military-connected children attend U.S. public schools, and less than 8% attend Department of Defense schools. These children live with the perpetual challenges presented by frequent moves, parental deployments, and a host of life transitions including reintegration and dealing with profoundly changed parents. In their own way, military-connected children serve alongside their military parents.  Approximately 12 % of these children have the amplified challenges associated with special needs. The well-being of all military-connected children and youth depends heavily on a strong, consistent network of supportive adults and, most-especially, educators. Teachers, mentors, and role models play a pivotal role in the future of all children, but especially the military child.

The education experience of the children should not suffer due to the inability of our Congress and the Administration to come together and agree upon a sensible budget plan.    Children should not be made to suffer the unintended consequences of indecision. Though there are differing opinions about the fiscal crisis and the impact on education, there are looming and mounting certainties destined to occur unless solutions are considered now.  The Department of Defense schools (DoDEA) have already announced plans to furlough staff starting next month. This is now! Public school districts won’t feel the pain immediately because key formula funding programs such as Title 1 grants and special education are paid forward, so the districts won’t feel the full implications until the 2013-2014 school year. Most public school districts are already well into the process of drafting budgets and making plans for the coming school year. They need to know what their funding will look like- hiring and staffing decisions and commitments need to be made now. The majority of school district funding is spent on personnel- so staff cuts or layoffs are fairly certain. We also know that the over 600 districts receiving Impact Aid due to parents working on military bases may take a minimal cut in April, but significant hits are on next year’s horizon.  Further reductions could come if added to any state and local reductions.

Consider that children, who have personally experienced the implications of more than a decade of war, rely on the predictability of schools, after-school and summer programs. They deserve to have the institutions—both from DoD and in their school districts—to be predictable, reliable, and available to them.

To reduce the quality of our children’s education for the sake of political victories is neither acceptable nor responsible with regard to our nation’s most vital treasure. In keeping with its mission to ensure quality educational opportunities for our country’s military-connected children, the Military Child Education Coalition applauds all efforts that will strengthen our national security, and our global competitiveness by providing for the future of our children through a quality education.