Last week, we celebrated Veterans Day and honored the brave women and men who have served and are serving our country. It is also important to remember their families’ sacrifices to support their service.
Did you know that nearly 18,000 children in Maryland are members of military families? That number ranks Maryland as 8th in the country for the number of military children living in our state. Maryland is committed to supporting these children and their families.
I have the honor of representing the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM) on the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) state council on educational opportunity for military children. The MIC3 deals with the challenges of military children and their frequent relocations. It allows for uniform treatment as military children transfer between school districts in member states.
Members of the state council meet annually to discuss the MIC3 Strategic Plan and to identify any particular challenges we face in Maryland. School liaison officers from military institutions across the state are joined by members of the Maryland State Department of Education and representatives from local school systems to discuss the reality military families face in Maryland.
The meetings are a poignant reminder of the impact of military service on a family. Children move frequently to new schools often in new states. Graduation requirements, protocols for enrolling in special academies or programs, try-outs for athletic teams, and delivery of special education services—these are just a few examples of the things that can vary greatly from state to state or even school district to school district! The MIC3 creates uniform rules that attempt to level the playing field for military children by ensuring that as much flexibility as possible is offered.
But many of the most important ways to support military children cannot be guided by rules. As these children move into new schools, they need staff and students who welcome them and help them to build relationships quickly. It is also important that counselors get to know these children so they can support them in the transition to a new school or help them deal with the challenge of having a parent deployed.
Just as we acknowledge the incredible service of our veterans and military personnel, I hope we take the time to share our appreciation for their families who also give so much!