Interstate Compact eases transitions
|By Elaine Sanchez, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An interstate compact is spurring sweeping
improvements to the school transition process for military parents and
their children, while also making inroads into addressing parents’
education-related concerns, a Defense Department official said.
The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children
affects everything from school enrollment and eligibility to course
placement and graduation, explained Ed Kringer, director of state
liaison and educational opportunity for the Pentagon’s office of
military community and Family policy. Since its inception in 2006, 39
states have adopted the compact, ensuring inclusion of nearly 90 percent
of military children and teens.
The Defense Department developed the compact in coordination with the
Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts in
an attempt to counter many of the common education challenges military
Families face, he said.
“All parents want good education for their children; they want them to
have a chance to succeed,” Kringer said. “In many cases, many (military)
parents have felt there are roadblocks — unintentional roadblocks — but
roadblocks put in the way of their children.”
A delay in records transfer has been an ongoing concern, he noted, with
some schools taking weeks, or months, to ship records to another state.
This delay can result in a delay in course or program placement. Through
the compact, however, schools are required to ship records within 10
The compact also looks out for students in honors programs, Kringer
said. In the past, school officials have barred students from enrolling
in honors programs until their qualifications could be verified.
Meanwhile, they’ve lost a semester or more of participation in that
“If you’re transferring schools every couple of years and every couple
of years you’re losing that advanced training, that can have a serious
impact,” he said.
The compact works to avoid these education gaps by requiring the gaining
school to presume students are qualified for an honors program if they
were in a similar program in another school and there’s space in the
gaining program, Kringer explained.
The students still can be tested, but meanwhile, they’re not losing
valuable learning time.
Kringer also noted the compact’s impact on extracurricular activities.
Students who move during the school year often miss activity deadlines
and end up having to sit out a year of an activity, such as band or a
sport, until auditions or tryouts are held again. The compact requires
schools to waive the deadlines or, if those dates are steadfast, to find
an alternate way for the student to apply, such as taped auditions.
The value of extracurricular activities can’t be underestimated, Kringer
noted. “It helps them fit in, join in,” he said.
For high-school seniors, the compact works to ensure frequent moves
don’t affect their graduation plans. The compact requires the gaining
school to look closely at courses and exams so students aren’t denied a
graduation due to minor differences in standards between states. If
standards can’t be waived, then school officials should see if students
qualify for a diploma from their former school.
Kringer acknowledged some schools have concerns about having to save
slots or bump someone else out in favor of military students. But that’s
not the case, he said. “We’re just ensuring kids have a chance to
participate, to compete.”
The compact includes many other provisions, Kringer said. He encouraged
parents and school officials to educate themselves about the compact,
particularly as the new school year draws near.
“There are going to be schools with relatively few military children
(that) won’t get the word,” he said. “What’s going to be important is
for parents to understand the compact, what it provides, and also know
what it doesn’t do. And if they hit any roadblocks, Kringer said,
parents and guardians should talk to their local school-liaison officer.
The big-picture goal of the compact, Kringer said, is to alleviate
parents’ education concerns and to keep Families together. He would like
to avoid situations in which the Families choose to stay in one place
while the servicemember moves to another to avoid school transition
“That’s not what we want. ...We don’t want to keep Families apart,” he
said. “We surely don’t want them apart because they’re worried about
their children being put behind because they have to transfer schools.”
Kringer said DoD officials will continue to work with the interstate
commission, the compact’s governing body, to bring the remaining 11
states on board.
More information about Interstate Compacts is available at the website’s
National Link for the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission
(MIC3) at http://www.mic3.net or on the Wisconsin Department of Public
For more information in the Fort McCoy community, call Fort McCoy School
Liaison Officer Rebecca Walley at 608-388-6814 or e-mail
Walley is a Wisconsin Interstate Compact council member.