Lansing: Flanagan asks districts to help efforts to assist children of military families

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan has asked every local school district in Michigan to voluntarily help assist in a national and state initiative to provide support to school-aged children of military families.

In a memo sent to schools last week, Flanagan appealed to local school superintendents' sense of patriotism and asked them to join him in helping children whose parents bravely and selflessly serve in the military.

"The least we all can do is recognize the sacrifices our military families make for this state and this nation," Flanagan said. "The impact on children cannot be underestimated, and we all should work together to provide them with tangible support."

The United States is in the 10th year of deploying its Armed Forces into sustained combat operations. The stress that these multiple deployments and separations have on military families has increased to unheard of proportions, Flanagan noted.

President Obama and the First Lady recently have committed their attention to strengthening this nation's military families by ensuring that they have the resources they need to be their best. Specifically, they have committed to ensuring excellence in military's children's education and their development. Each of the President's Cabinet Secretaries, including the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has personally committed to improving support for our military families.

Flanagan is asking local districts and charter schools to support these efforts by identifying military-connected children of Michigan with parents or guardians currently serving the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and/or Coast Guard. This will include all children of parents currently serving in the Michigan National Guard, in Reserve United States Forces, or on Active Duty. The state expects that over 3,000 Michigan military service members will be deployed during 2011.

"I am fully aware that I am asking for your voluntary support during a time when mandated data submissions have become such a sensitive issue for school districts," Flanagan wrote in the memo. "The fact that I am writing this letter to you lets you know how committed I am to supporting military-connected children in our state."

Once school-aged children of military families are identified, support can be provided. In states like Michigan that do not have large active duty posts or bases, its military children are spread throughout the state and therefore do not always have access to networks of support.

"I see this voluntary data collection as being critical to helping us monitor the academic growth of and directing future education and counseling resources to those students most affected by deployments and other military family stressors," Flanagan said.

Also, under the President's initiative, the U.S. Department of Education is proposing, as part of No Child Left Behind reauthorization, to give priority to federal grant applications that help address the needs of military-connected students.

Copyright © 2011 State of Michigan

Published: Thu, Mar 17, 2011

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