Military Kids Can Face Additional Challenges at School
With PCS orders arriving early next year, I’m already beginning to feel some of the stresses that come with moving a family, especially with young boys who will be experiencing their first of several PCS moves from one school to another. This article from last week’s Military Child Education Coalition seminar only verified some of those specific concerns. The Commander of U.S. Pacific Command explained that, “It’s no surprise that studies have shown that children of military parents are often more vulnerable to fear and anxiety, and that those stressors manifest themselves behaviorally and academically.” Admiral Harry Harris Jr. also stressed the fact that the children of military parents repeatedly endure the hardships and challenges of “engagement, disengagement, and reengagement as they move to new schools every two to three years.” The past fourteen years of our servicemembers fighting the war on terror have set conditions for our military families to experience all types of stresses, from back to back deployments to required PCS moves into the midst of a school year.
A friend of mine who recently PCS’d to a new duty location told me how her son didn’t make the school basketball team because he arrived just after try-outs were complete. Another friend is worried her child won’t get into Honors classes because they didn’t arrive in time to take the mandatory exams required by for the advanced placement classes. These are just a couple examples of how our military families are oftentimes vulnerable to some of the inherent and seemingly inevitable challenges, even with use of the Military Interstate Children's Compact. It also provides some insight into a disturbing fact; the current educational system is not designed to fully support the flexible lifestyle of a servicemember and his/her family.
Admiral Harris identified these issues and stressed that academics is what will help our children ultimately achieve their goals. He used the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known today as the G.I. Bill, as an example of where legislation was created to improve the quality of life for our veterans. Now that the G.I. Bill is transferrable to our military children, this does serve as a critical benefit and a significant consolation to the challenges our children will likely endure at some point during their parent(s) military career—delayed school enrollment, inappropriate grade-level placement, exclusion from educational programs/extracurricular activities and delayed graduation. It’s important that the Army continue to look at ways to ensure that our military children do not experience unnecessary hits to their quality of academics and extracurricular opportunities.