Why Isn't the Education Compact Helping Us?

Photo: U.S. Army

Dear Q&B,

When we moved last summer, our high schooler changed states and schools. We thought that the interstate compact would make sure that her 4.0 average came with her, but we found out that thanks to the way they grade at our new duty station, grades that once brought her a 4.0 count for less here.

We tried to get the school to work with us or help us understand the situation, but they weren't aware of the compact at all and now we don't know what to do.

How is this supposed to work and what should we do?

Sincerely,| Frustrated Parents

Dear Parents,

The good news is that you're right -- there is a Military Interstate Children's Compact. You can read all about it here.

One of the things it is supposed to do is make transfers easier and, yes, it should help your daughter be able to maintain her grades through a waiver with the new school.

"Should" is the operative word here. For the compact to be effective, it has to be well publicized with school officials. They have to be trained in how it impacts students.

To do that, each state is supposed to have an office staffed with folks who do that job. The problem is that they often don't have such an office since staffing it requires funding from the state. The military services also have school liaison officers to help spread the word (the Army has 93 across the U.S.)

But the compact isn't legally binding, so if states choose not to enforce it after agreeing to it, there's little military leaders can do about it.

"It's important to know the compact is just that -- a compact. It is not a contract. It is not legally binding," said Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff, at a recent meeting of the Association of the United States Army.

The way to make sure the compact is enforced is to "appeal to the good nature" of the states, he said. But that doesn't always work as well as you'd hope.

So what can you do to make your state abide by the standards? Milley said you should ask your school liaison for help and, if it still isn't working, ask them to fleet the problem up the chain of command.

If the problem continues, he said the Army, at least, will increase "various levels of pain." He said he's not afraid to pick up the phone and call elected officials in those states and ask them to abide by the compact.

That's probably not quite the answer you were looking for, and it's definitely not a fast solution. But hopefully if you are able to identify problems and get them in front of someone who can take care of them, it will be better in the long run for all military kids in your area.

Sincerely, Team Q&B

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