Military Interstate Children’s Compact Aids U.S. Military Families

For Kate Wren Gavlak, the work of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, or MIC3, is about more than legislation; it is work she engages in every day. Gavlak, who is chair of the commission, represents California, which has the largest population of active duty, Reserve and Guard service members in the nation. She also serves as the superintendent of the Travis Unified School District, a district created in 1962, in part, to serve the children of military personnel stationed at Travis Air Force Base.

MIC3’s goal is to make the policies that affect military students more consistent across states. The compact, which was first introduced in 2008, addresses education transition issues encountered by military families, including issues related to enrollment, attendance, eligibility and graduation.

“The compact does not resolve every issue, but in bringing together every state around a set of best practices and common ideals, we are able to show military personnel and their families that their students matter,” said Gavlak. “The compact sets a standard for all parties to always do what is right for the student, and by maintaining that idea as our mantra, we cannot go wrong.”

For thousands of military families across the nation, the end of a school year means the journey to a new home, new community and new school. As military personnel receive new orders and relocate with their families, the moves for military children often mean more than just finding new friends in school. It means ensuring that their new states, school districts and schools are in compliance with the Military Interstate Children’s Compact.

The Military Interstate Children’s Compact was created with assistance from The Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts. Since its introduction almost 10 years ago, every state in the nation has joined the compact, working collaboratively on a comprehensive approach to provide consistent policies in every state and school district.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that across active duty and selected reserve populations, there are 2,150,651 military personnel and 2,875,977 family members, including spouses, children and adult dependents. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 60 percent of children of military families are school age with nearly 80 percent of those children attending public schools across the nation. The department estimates that on average the children of military personnel change schools between six to nine times throughout their K–12 years, which is three times more than non-military families and students.

The compact, which offers assistance to children of active duty members of the uniformed services, National Guard and Reserve members on active duty, and veterans who are medically discharged or retired for one year, has sought to remove red tape and barriers, which have in the past required students to repeat grades or even ruled them ineligible to graduate due to varied requirements across the nation.

As MIC3 closes in on its first decade, the commission and its new executive director, Cherise Imai, continue to focus on the founding mission of the compact. “With all 50 states and the District of Columbia signed onto the compact, MIC3 has and will continue to play a vital role in supporting both the transition of military children as they move between states, and highlighting the key role and best practices of schools in successful transitions of families,” said Imai.

Prior to being named the commission’s new leader, Imai, who served as the military liaison for the Hawaii State Department of Education, provided technical assistance across seven islands that encompass 15 districts and 255 schools and was an instrumental component for the successful implementation of the compact in Hawaii.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead MIC3 in engaging states, our membership, school districts and critical community partners to fully realize our shared vision and the way forward,” Imai said.

In December, MIC3 will join other compact commissions and compact administrators, as well as legislators and members of the judiciary, in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, for the first Summit of the States on Interstate Collaboration, hosted by The Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts.

MIC3 will present a session about NCIC’s work and how they have successfully built a compact across 50 states and the District of Columbia that shares data, implements best practices and reduces barriers for military families.

“I’m excited about attending the first Summit of the States, networking and learning about the most pressing issues facing state governments,” said Imai. “More importantly, I look forward to sharing MIC3’s mission and how we support transitioning military students, families and public schools.”

Please visit here for more information on the Military Interstate Children’s Compact.

Please visit here for more information on the 2016 Summit of the States on Interstate Collaboration.