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Current Issue: Helping Military Families moving their children to California Public Schools

FACT SHEET - Assembly Bill AB 343

AB 343 (Saldaña) Background

Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Lori Saldaña

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children

Summary

This bill would allow California to join the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which will provide for the uniform treatment, at the state and local district level, of military children transferring between school districts and states.

Background

There are about 60,000 school-age military dependents between the ages of 5 and 18 years old in California. Unfortunately, military families encounter significant school challenges when dealing with enrollment, eligibility, placement, and graduation of their children. Twenty-five percent of the students lose their course credits due to multiple school transfers from out-of-state and out-of-country Department of Defense schools to California schools. Because of the high rotation of military personnel, school-age military dependents attend as many as seven schools. Students can be penalized for missing state tests required to enter or exit various levels of the educational system. Tests are often specific to the state and consequently, entrance/exit tests taken in another state are not recognized. In addition, children enrolled in Kindergarten in one state may not qualify by age when transferred during the year to another state, and those who have completed Kindergarten in another state are sometimes denied entry into first grade due to the age requirement.

In 2008, the Department of Defense and the Council of State Governments developed an interstate compact to address this issue. However, California and each participating state must adopt the Compact through legislation.

Related Legislation

AB 2102 (Saldaña, Chapter #608, 2006) requires the State Department of Education to establish a formal liaison with the United States Department of Defense and school districts that enroll military dependents to establish guidelines for school credit transfer and procedures to help military dependents in meeting local graduation requirements.

AB 1809 (Saldaña, 2008) would have allowed California to join other states in the nation to create the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. This bill was held in Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 2049 (Saldaña, Chapter #589, 2008) was introduced after AB 1809 was held in the Assembly. AB 2049 created a task force to review and make recommendations concerning the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children. The task force was responsible for reviewing the compact and issuing a final report in regards to its impact on California.

Proposal

The findings of the task force, created by AB 2049, recommended that California join the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. As a result, AB 343 was introduced with several amendments that would address some of the concerns that were raised while AB 1809 was moving through the legislative process. AB 343 will facilitate the educational placement and advancement of military children and help remove barriers to their educational success due to the frequent moves and deployment of their parents. The compact establishes the Interstate Commission, which will address future interstate problems and issues as they arise.

Contact: Chris Alvarez, (916) 319-2076

Updated: 3/13/09

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