Representatives, military, educators meet for interstate compact

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Karen S. Spangler

Managing Editor

Mainland representatives from the National Interstate Compact Commission in Kentucky met with members of the Hawaii State Educational Opportunity for Military Children (also referred to as the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission or MIC3) on April 15 to discuss ways to improve the quality of education and address unique challenges faced by children of military families.

Rep. K. Mark Takai Hawaii State Representative of (District 34- Aiea, Pearl City), military leaders, Hawaii Department of Education officials and educators convened at Lehua Elementary School in Pearl City, host school for the Friday session. Lehua is one of the 45 schools in Hawaii that have significant populations of military dependent students.

Sixth grade students at Lehua welcomed guests and offered presentations and slam poetry, talking about what they experienced as their parents leave on deployment and the ensuing separations. They also used the strategies of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” in their presentations.

Beginning this school year, Lehua implemented the “Seven Habits” by Steven Covey in its curriculum. Known in schools as “The Leader in Me” program, students learn the habits of success and leadership skills as part of their curriculum.

Faye Toyama, principal at Lehua Elementary, explained that 61 percent of the school’s students are military dependents, according to the school’s official enrollment count day in August 2010. She emphasized the importance of the interstate compact to help children from military families as they transition to schools in other states.

“The interstate compact is important for all students to continue their education as much as possible with the least amount of interruption, especially at the primary school level when the basic foundations are established for lifelong learning,” Toyama said.

“When students are enrolled after the school year starts, they are missing out on learning, as well as the social aspects of being among peers. The compact allows for students to transition as smoothly as possible when their parents are transferred from one duty station to another,” she added.

Brig. Gen. (retired) Norman Arflack, executive director of the National Interstate Compact Commission, and Rick Masters, legal counsel to the commission, highlighted the significance of the military in celebration of the Month of the Military Child and the importance of the compact for military children.

Arflack commended the state of Hawaii on the accomplishments that it has made with regard to the compact. “If every state had the organization and structure Hawaii has, there would no challenges. You have broken the code here in Hawaii,” he said.

Masters noted that other states look to Hawaii as a model and that Hawaii is one of the most active state models in the nation. “Other states monitor what is being done here. This is what the compact is about,” he said.

So far, 36 states have joined the interstate compact. According to Arflack, the 36 states that are currently members of the compact represent almost 78 percent of the military student population.

The goal is for all 50 states and U.S. territories to eventually be part of the compact. Six states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Nebraska, North Dakota and Nevada, currently have pending legislation.

Arflack said that Hawaii has the largest number of representatives in military uniform. “It’s important to have senior leaders sitting around the table with educators and making decisions,” he said. Arflack noted that the participation between all military branches and the Department of Education is an important part of Hawaii’s program and what makes it so successful.

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Kathleen F. Berg who serves as the state commissioner for Hawaii for the Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, added, “We have a really nice working model here [in Hawaii]. There needs to be a lot of sharing among states.”

Takai discussed the significance of the military involvement. “We have considerable participation from all branches of the military [Department of Defense] and homeland security with the Coast Guard,” he said.

“We go to the mainland and we are one of the models that other states look to for guidance,” he noted.

“Our military children, just like our local children, deserve the very best. We work tirelessly to meet the special needs and demands of being a military child,” Takai added.

Hawaii enacted Act 152 in 2009 that allowed Hawaii to join the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children for two years. Currently, the legislature is discussing reauthorization of the law under House Bill 4 for the enactment of the interstate compact on educational opportunity for military children, which was introduced by Takai.

“The interstate compact strengthens and builds on Hawaii’s support to our military community. The compact will ease the challenges created when children are uprooted from school as parents are transferred or are deployed,” Takai explained.

There are common problems that impact military students as a result of frequent moves and deployments. States that join the compact agree to work together with other “com-pact” states in creating uniform standards of practice regarding transfer of school records, course placement, graduation requirements, redundant or missed testing, and entrance age variations.

“The overall purpose of the interstate compact is to remove educational barriers faced by children of military families due to frequent moves and deployment of military parents,” Takai said.

Arflack emphasized the importance of the interstate compact for military children. “We’re trying to see that military kids aren’t disadvantaged,” he said.

“[Military] children talk about how tough it is when their parents deploy. We have to do what we can do as a commission to relieve that burden,” Arflack said.

For more information about the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, visit the Aloha, Military Families and Students (AMFAS) website a t http://militaryfamily.k12.hi. us/ or

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Category: News