One State Sets a Precedent to Help Children of Military Families Succeed in School

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

 

Most parents have spent the last weeks of summer concerned over the “ifs” and “hows” schools will be reopening as we continue to deal with our nation’s health crisis.

Many classes are beginning virtually this fall, and parents are scrambling to figure out this extended period of at-home learning.

But there’s another group of parents and children facing additional uncertainty – and one state has set a precedent that may help families across the country.

Our nation’s military families understand sacrifice.  While the bravery of our service members is often recognized, their family’s struggles often go unnoticed.

Summer is often a time of uncertainty for military families, as it is the typical season for service members receiving new orders and planning yet another move in their near future.

For their children, the frequent moves mean frequent school changes – and that transition can be stressful even in normal times.

The state of Alabama, however, has passed a law that may offer at least a small amount of comfort for military families on the move again in the coming months.

The Alabama Act 2020-68 was actually passed with support from both parties in February, before the full impact of the pandemic swept our nation.

The law allows for children of military parents to start the upcoming school year virtually in the school they would have been attending this fall.

While that may sound obvious as most children are returning to school virtually, most states require that families already reside in the school district in order to begin classes.

Although many service members received transfer orders and began planning their moves to different states in recent months, those orders have been temporarily put on hold by the Department of Defense as the pandemic continues to disrupt normal activities.

And several military bases have seen spikes in COVID-19 cases recently, further putting on hold any orders for transfer.

Many military families are therefore still in a state of “limbo,” and would not have been established by the beginning of the upcoming school year, so their children would have had to start at one school for just a few weeks right before having to move and begin again.

Even with remote learning, this would be a difficult adjustment for any child.

The law was originally developed to help provide stability and support to military families who needed flexibility as their orders and moves were being processed.

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For children, already anxious at starting over at yet another school, the ability to begin classes with their future school while still out of state can be a lifesaver for their ability to adjust and succeed.

The law currently applies only to high schoolers who will be attending schools in the state at some point during this coming school year.

But with disruptions continuing from the pandemic, Alabama’s State Department of Education is working to extend this law to include all children of military personnel who will be enrolled at some point this year.

Although the Alabama legislature had worked on the bill long before the pandemic hit, its passage into law could not have come at a better time for children facing the stress of uncertainty.

Other states are now recognizing the need for similar legislation to provide the children of military families some form of stability and structure.

It’s a great idea whose time has come – and it certainly has come at an opportune time for the children of our nation’s military.

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