Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 8/Student Soapbox
As this is a military town many of you are (or have friends who are) so called "military brats".
From what I hear, life as a "military brat" is not easy: moving from town to town, having to make new friends every two years.
And then there's school: a new one every few years. Sometimes curriculum aligns; sometimes it doesn't.
What can be done to make school transitions easier for kids whose parents are in the military?
Should we have a national curriculum so the topics for instruction will be consistent across the states? Special military school similar to the DODD (Department of Defense Dependents)  schools in other countries? Something else?
Add your response below. Extra credit will be awarded to multimedia responses.
Listen to my horror story!
Oh my where do I begin...my husband has been in the military for over 15 years and I have two daughters (one 16 and one going to be 7 next month). My 16 yr old has had it the hardest. We have moved all over the world and she has attended many schools. The problem that we have found, along with the socialization and adjusting aspect, is the curriculum in the different school districts she has attended. Two of the schools she attended tried to hold her back and move her back a grade because they said that her previous schools were substandard. Getting her help in reading and math, has been a struggle in some of the schools. In Hawaii, for instance, military students were told that they could not play sports for the school because since they were in the military, they would be leaving in three years or less...the coach told them that he did not have time to waste on them (this was not just one school in particular, but several)...as a result, many of the wives out of my husbands command moved back to the mainland without their husbands so their children could play sports. One of the best types of schools that she went to was the DOD school overseas...this was not because the curriculum was top notch or the sports program was outstanding...it was simply because all of the kids going there were military kids and the teachers understood what the kids were going through emotionally when their dad or mom or both went on deployment. Instead of punishing the kids for misbehaving, having emotional breakdowns, skipping school, etc...they worked with the kids, sometimes one-on-one to help them understand what was going on and how to survive the deployment. There is a really good website if you are interested in hearing stories or finding out more information about military kids: http://www.militarybrat.com/ Scarlett1 (talk) 03:33, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
My father grew up in a military family where his father was a Colonel in the Air Force. He moved sixteen times from the time he was age 3 until age 18. On top of being mobile he was later diagnosed (in his adult years) with an extreme case of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. He had a really difficult time adapting to the varying curriculum and cultures in each location. Once he got comfortable making friends and such he would have to move. I'm not sure if his problems derived from lack of stability due to being so mobile or ADHD... or both. All I know is the moving didn't help his cirumstances. Perhaps having a set curriculum for those in the military would assist in creating some sort of stability. I do think it is a good idea, I would just be careful not to ostracize these children from the general population creating yet another hurdle to jump. Rpaige (talk) 07:40, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Being a so called "military brat" myself I did experience the moving around and the new schools. It wasn't so bad when I was younger because i didn't really notice the differences in the . I first noticed it when i moved from Virginia Beach to Tennessee in between the fourth and fifth grade. I was in a private school in VA and a public school in TN. I noticed that some of the material that the kids in my class in TN were just learning for the first time I had covered the previous year in VA. The other time I noticed a difference was Moving back to VA a year later. Except this time I was the one that was behind. I think that what could be done is not necessarily one set national curriculum, but a set of guidelines that will help keep grades on the same page throughout the country. Rcoll029 (talk) 04:19, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
That's not how it was for me.
I did not grow up in a military family but do have many friends who have traveled the globe as "military brats". In my experience with them, I often heard complaints about the moves and the difficulty settling into each new school. I think that the curriculum differences can be very difficult for children whose parents travel frequently; however, I believe it is the social aspect of the moving that is most difficult. In almost all the cases that I have seen, the children have adapted well to the new school curriculum. I think that when the social transition is a smooth one, the school aspect goes well too. Military brats generally become very resiliant and are quite good at making friends and settling into new places quickly. If this is done, I think that the educational aspects will also be much easier. I am not sure of a solution to the issue of varying curriculums; I don't know that I completely agree with a national curriculum. As for the military families and children, I would focus on making a smooth transition (socially) into the new home/ school and the rest will fall into place! Khedl002 (talk) 02:42, 26 July 2009 (UTC)khedl002
I have never experienced this personally but I do have friends that are the children of parents in the military. They would tell me that yes, there were some hard times, but overall they enjoyed being in the military. They enjoyed being able to see different parts of the world and meeting different people. Never, did they mention it being difficult going from school to school with the academics. Not to say this is not a problem and that not everyone has or had problems with being in a military family..it varies. I am not sure whether a national curriculum would be the best but at the same time I am not sure it would be a huge problem. It does take a lot of effort and time to make a whole country on the same page academically. Sston008 (talk) 23:35, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
I did not grow up in a military family, however, I had friends who's parents were in the military and it was always hard to see them go for me. I can only imagine how hard it was for them having to make new friends every place they moved too. I think a national curriculum would be a great idea, but it actually happening, I just do not know if it will. Every teacher teaches differently and has their own style. It would be hard to keep track of all the teachers in all the schools to make sure they are all doing what the curriculum is stating. I do not believe a national curriculum would be nice, but I do not think it will happen. I do wonder if schools would be different if a curriculum was in place. Lwill031 (talk) 18:28, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Well this is not a story about me, but it is about my first cousin who is considered a "military brat". He has moved schools so many times I have lost count. It seemed like it was not a big deal at first but as he got older we began to notice how the moving affected him not only in school, but socially also. It always came down to one thing each time; either he was bored with the material because he already learned it or he was very far behind. He was never anywhere for such a period of time that he could make friends. By the time kids would start warming up to him he would have to move. I think a national curriculum would be great but I don't think it is possible. No teacher teaches at the same pace or the same. He has been in the same school now for 3 years and is begging to stay so he can graduate there. He has close friends there that he never has had before. He is highly intelligent and I wonder where he would be without support from his parents and his self determination. Hcomb003 (talk) 19:51, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
My oldest son is a military brat. He attended 9 different schools by the time he graduated high school. The longest he ever stayed in one school was 2 years and he only did that twice. Most of the time, there were many other students in the same circumstances as he was so he and those other students made friends quickly as they understood the situation. Curriculum issues were a totally different matter however. He was considered a "gifted student" but because qualifications were different everywhere he went, he usually didn't attend those programs. He was very bored in school and had poor study habits because the work came easily to him (until he hit college that is). I don't believe in a national curriculum, but I do have to wonder how much better off he would have been had there been one. Sciaston (talk) 20:43, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
I did not grow up in a military family, but I have some friends who did. Other than the stresses of having to get used to a new area and make new friends, they did not have many problems adjusting to the school. I think that military students should be given some assistance in catching up to the same place as the other students of their age group, but they do not need a standardized national curriculum. Sbutl016 (talk) 19:54, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
The only time I personally had to move away from home was college, and it was a hard transition as a grown young adult. However, when it comes to military brats my niece is the perfect case. My brother joined the army a little shy of ten years ago and she has had to adapt to different countries and cultures. They have not mentioned that adapting to different types of curricula is hard but the social bonding is what has made each of their (especially my little niece)moves difficult. Maybe military brats should be exempt from harsh curriculum requirements and take placement tests to meet the needs of each school.Ehern004 (talk) 16:31, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
While I am technically not a military brat, I did move overseas when my mother took a government job and I did attend a DODDS school there. I had a great experience. I thought the teachers were understanding and did their best to make me feel accepted and secure in my studies. We did move during the school year so there was some transition as far as getting on the same page but there was some leeway with the teachers and they helped me by assigning someone in my class that would "tutor" me and help me to catch up. The worst part of the transition was the year that it happened, my freshman year of high school, which is hard enough already, add moving to another country on to the stress. I think that there is a sense of national curriculum in a way in that many teachers understand that sometime in our life as students that we will be taking an SAT or ACT and there are standards that are taught to help students prepare for those tests. The benefits that I gained by living in Europe and experiencing history, art, culture and language first hand; when to that point had been in books and media, was an experience that made me grateful for the tears that were shed about going. There are always going to be struggles when you do something new and foreign to you but in the end those experiences help you and teach you things about yourself. It does not hurt that everyone else in the schools overseas are all in the same boat, so you make friends easily. I am sure that it is harder when you move from state to state, but there should be assistance from guidance counselors and administration to help smooth the transition. Jnewh001 (talk) 18:44, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I grew up in a military family but only had to endure one major move. I moved from Hawaii to Virginia and that was that. My mother was always the head of my household and I am sure that this had a lot to do with our lack of movement. My father did ,however, spend three years away from the family stationed in Madagascar and a horrific stint as a recruiter in Danville Virginia. I would’ve liked to have lived in Madagascar, but feel that missing out on that specific pleasure in order to avoid the circle of hell that is Danville Virginia was worth it. My sincerest apologies to anyone who hails from Danville or thereabouts, I have only visited three times with my father and, admittedly, only to his seedy motel room. But from what I saw, having my eyelids cut off and my eyes slowly dry in the hot summer sun seemed preferable to living there. So all in all, I did not have a horrific experience due to my father’s military involvement. But I am sure things would’ve been different if my mother were not the primary earner in my family. I do feel cheated of time in regards to my childhood with my father but then again I was never subjected to living someplace I didn’t want to or losing what little social connections I made as a child. Most importantly I avoided living in the purgatory of Danville, Virginia. BitterAsianMan (talk) 18:45, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Here's my solution...
I didn't grow up in a military family, so I don't know anything about the moving to one school to another. I can only imagine that this is very hard on the student(s) that have to go through this. I don't think that there is an easy solution to this situation. Depending on how long the student would be at the school, the curriculum should be geared towards giving the student the best education to help him/her to the next school.Msmhobbs04 (talk) 13:56, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
I didn't grow up moving from school to school but I can see the difference in the education system from state to state. My oldest son is starting high school this year. He has two cousins and one Aunt who are the same age and in the same grade (yes an Aunt). They all live in different states; VA, NY, NJ, and GA. The level of knowledge is vastly different. My niece and sister in NY and NJ have read many literature books, have written large essays as well have constructed projects in science. My sister who is an English teacher is shocked that my son barely has to write essays or research papers and compared to her 9th grade students he is way behind in literature. This holds true for my nephew in GA. I don't feel as though my son is learning as much as he needs to in order to be well rounded in academics. I am not going to debate the role of parents in this situation. If I moved back to NY I coul see where the school system would want to hold him back or offer tutoring. I also would like to point out that my son scores almost perfect on his math SOL's and holds a good grade in school generally but even the level of math he is learning is a grade behind what my niece and sister are learning. So just because it looks good on paper doesn't make it right. Are some school systems dumbing down the curriculum so they can show achievement? I believe that there needs to be a national curriculum with the exception of a studying local and state specific genres.Jnemo001 (talk) 06:01, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
The DOD schools sound like something nice for students in military families to attend. Not only do they get the same education curriculum wise across schools, they also are able to meet lasting friends that have similar experiences moving around and changing schools. The teachers are also more understanding and able to help students adjust to the new school and classes. Hcogg001 (talk) 16:16, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with a national curriculum in some fashion, but not because of the military...just sometimes think education should be a national issue and not a state regulated thing. Why not have standards of learning for the country, not just the states. As for the military children, I do believe that assistance is needed for them so they can better fit in in their new classes. Moving so much is devastating for young people. Of course, around here children are not alone in their military-bratiness. Classmates have gone through it too. Counselors should be sensitive to the fact that there are so many students in transition in our area and a system should be in place to assist them with their special issues. Ldomm002 (talk) 02:52, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I do not agree with a national curriculum, but I definitely believe some kind of plan needs to be implemented for those kids of military families. I certainly believe it could be very hard for students to adjust moving so many times. Each time you may be behind or ahead of the curriculum, either circumstance could be frustrating. Honestly, not sure what a good answer would be. I hope that schools understand and are patient with these students whether they have to catch up or if they are ahead. I believe every circustance would be different. Each student should be evaluated and each teacher should adjust accordingly. Aferg006 (talk) 02:33, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
I feel that there should be some kind of program in place as a transition for military students. Since every curriculum is not going to be the same at each school, it would be beneficial to accommodate these students with an introduction to the new school's curriculum. In that introduction, the student will be introduced to the new school's curriculum, and how it is different from their previous school's. They will also be given time, and information to adjust to the new curriculum so a smoother transition can be achieved. I do not feel that there should be a special curriculum put into place just for military students, because then they will feel segregated from the other students at their school. I do feel however that implementing a program, or programs, to help facilitate the transition to the new curriculum would be beneficial to these military students who are moved from school to school. Rburt005 (talk) 15:49, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Although I wish I had the perfect solution for military students, it’s very difficult to come up with one. I was not one to favor a National Curriculum before, but in the case of military students, I think a national curriculum would be beneficial. That way, the topics of instruction would be consistent across the states and parents and students would not have to worry about the whether the curriculums are aligned. I was never a military student myself, but I have had a few good friends who have been, and this has always been a frustration for them. I think it would be a much easier academic transition for the student if they could count on the curriculum being the same wherever they went. Afett001 (talk) 18:45, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
While I think there should be a very loose national curriculum across the United States to help especially with situations such as this, I don't think it should be so authoritarian as to dictate completely and utterly what we can teach. There should be so much wiggle room you could dance with a two-left footed, epileptic elephant. Hsmit022 (talk) 17:27, 24 July 2009 (UTC)
Transitioning to a new school is very difficult. Students from military families move often which forces children to enter several new schools. I do not believe a national curriculum is the answer. I believe most schools attempt to make this transition as smooth as possible and often offer additional assistance to new students, especially non-Virginia residents. Entering a Virginia public school and facing the SOLs is a daunting experience for a child who has never had to meet such requirements. Teachers are concerned with "catching up" students on new material and preparing them for testing. Additional instruction and assistance to fill in the cracks is valuable. I believe a positive partnership between the school staff and the family can make a stressful transition a wonderful experience. Let the student and parents know that you are there for them and not to hesitate to ask questions or for assistnace. You can't make up for all of the moving and changes but you can certain try. And of course a smiling face makes a world of difference! Acrow005 (talk) 23:42, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
Although I know nothing of coming from a military family, I understand that moving many times for a child is pretty devastating. Many of my friends come from military families and have explained the difficulties of these transitions to me. Some children feel isolated, lack confidence, and never really find stability in their education. Other children have explained to me that they simply got used to moving around all the time and that eventually it was not a big deal. Regardless of which mold a child fits in, the truth is that we still need some kind of national standards to abide by. I have read a lot of research on federal curriculum and do not see any problem with the idea. Why shouldn’t Susan from Arkansas have the same education requirements as Amber from New York? The problem…education has always been a state’s obligation. Now, instead of reform, or even trying a uniform curriculum, states and federal government just get lost in the arguments and debates of it all. In the meantime, states still have control and I see no promising way to ease the transition for military students, other than teachers doing their best to be more aware of the emotional needs of the “new kid”. Abitt002 (talk) 18:00, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Whether a child is part of a military family or not, school transitions are never completely easy. Besides switching teaching styles and course content, children have to leave old friends and social groups and form new ones. Although finding new social groups will depend on the student, there is a possible solution for school transitions. By having a national curriculum in at least public and DODDs schools, students do not suffer academically. However, there are some disadvantages of a national curriculum. The most obvious is that education is primarily managed by the government at state and local levels. A national curriculum would contradict one of the very foundations of our national government. Another major issue is that each state has different views on what should, or should not be taught. For example, Virginia tends to only focus on a very small perspective of local history that includes minorities while California focuses strongly on all minorities in the area. If a national curriculum were to be developed, how would the country decide what a child should be taught? Would a national vote occur or would representatives from each state decide?
These questions are really difficult to answer because one year of experimental education can be extremely beneficial or damaging to a generation of children. As a military brat myself, I understand too well the frustration of constantly switching schools and being significantly ahead, or behind, my peers. I do not know if a national curriculum is entirely necessarily because I strongly believe that education should always be left within the state’s hands. Some national influence is acceptable, and sometimes even necessary to improve the country’s education system. But for the most part, education should be left to the states. I have noticed that the national associations for math, science, language arts and social studies each of standards of what a child should know kindergarten to 12th grade. Perhaps those should be a national standards and a national curriculum would be based on that. Adart001 (talk) 01:30, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm really not sure how I feel about this situation. I also agree that education should be left up to the state, so a national curriculum would obviously over-step that. I am not from a military family, but I would think that it would be emotionally harder for child to switch schools than it would be academically. This is why teachers should be aware of student's situations so that they can accommodate for this. Perhaps the student could receive extra help, if needed, from some type of after school program in high military areas? I don't know the solution, but I don't think that a national curriculum is the answer. Alucy001 (talk) 03:17, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I think that there should be a national curriculum to make sure that the entire nation is up to the same level of education as they should be state wide. I think that is education was the same nation wide, that allot of deficiencies could be avoided within students. When you travel allot and you have to get used to a new setting and probably differents standards each time I am pretty sure that may take some people through a loop and cause confusion.Bpenn005 (talk) 03:38, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Solution? I wouldn't go that far, but at least here are my thoughts...Schools are under the legislation of individual state governments, which usually dole out responsibility to individual cities or townships. The federal government's intervention into the states' rule over education has already been demonstrated by the No Child Left Behind Act. Due to the trickle down effect of that action, states now more frequently and forcefully intervene in local governments' legislation of schools. Should a national curriculum be mandated, this will be an even further limitation of state power, and thus city power to control its own educational systems. Because of the already negative effects of NCLB, and the "dumbing down" of standards to meet such legislation, the backlash of a national curriculum that may "dumb down" the affluent and well off schools as well as the power they exert in the community, may be enough to hasten the adoption of any such national dictation of the specifics of education. However, that does leave quite the plight for those who move frequently, i.e. military brats. To avoid such hassle, those children should have access to federal schools that share the same curriculum as to not impede on states' power to determine the specifics of their education system, and also to help facilitate the unique needs of military families. Scrai010 (talk) 23:23, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
School systems in areas that have a large number of military transfers should have guidance counselors that have had some background in dealing with military families. Having that training might give the counselor some insight into needs and issues that are common for military families in transit. An example of this is a family that just moved into our district from Europe and has had to deal without furniture at their house. They were told it wouldn't be here for a few weeks. This greatly effects how a student would perform in school. I do not believe in a national curriculum. In Virginia we have some unique issues that we would want to focus on, but we wouldn't expect the students in Wyoming to care about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. I do believe there should be guidelines for transfer credit being accepted at schools, similar to that of transferring credit in college. Jtmitchem (talk) 02:18, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
The solution is to give military kids credit for what they have already taken. Guidance counselors should try to plan military transfer students schedules so that they do not have to repeat anything they have already done. But I believe the solution is that military transfer students should get extra leniency; instead of having to do a whole course over, they should be excused from a graduation requirement. Special summer school course opportunities should be available for military students. These summer school courses should be specifically designed for summer school students, and the content of the course should be flexible based on what the student needs. This will help make the transition less difficult. Mbrowder (talk) 17:46, 16 August 2009 (UTC)