Testimony on AB342 Supporting Military-Connected Students

Don Soifer Testimony In Support of AB 342

On Behalf of Nevada Action for School Options

April 23, 2019


Dear Chairman Denis and Members of the Education Committee,

Thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony in support of AB342, which has strong potential to make an important difference in the educational experiences of Nevada’s military-connected students.

In my work as an education researcher I have been fortunate to get to spend time studying and observing schools serving military installations at many bases and states around the country, publishing two major Gates Foundation-funded white papers and a dozen articles about different aspects of this important work. One recurring recommendation throughout that research has been the value of a strong and functional state commission or council to lead the work related to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which Nevada does not currently have in place.

That may sound like a lot of jargon, but the work of effective state councils has proven important in many ways. On average, these students experience six to nine school changes during the course of their K-12 careers, generally moving across state lines where different state content standards and learning sequences are in use. Moreover, frequent challenges associated with the life of an active-duty family presents well-documented educational hardships, both academic and otherwise.

Right now there is essential work to be done in Nevada implementing the new Military Student Identifier required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. I am not aware that the Nevada Department of Education has made any significant progress to date implementing this requirement. Done right, this data tool will support educators, families, administrators, and policymakers to better understand whether, and how, these students and the schools they attend are succeeding — and why. It also will help inform military families about which schools may be the best fit for their children’s needs.

Targeted professional development for educators serving this essential population about how they can most effectively meet the specific needs of students’ lives as members of active-duty-connected families, expediting systematic intake of student information, including Individualized Education Plans for special-needs students, spearheading direct support for students, including social and emotional supports using district and military resources. and other areas are topics these state councils have advanced for the betterment of the communities they serve.

The designated school liaison detailed in section 4 also has important potential toward these outcomes.

A strong Council such as that advanced in this bill, will support that important work, and other priorities such as keeping the legislature and other governmental entities informed about progress, challenges and developments which can make a powerful difference in the educational experience of military-connected students and their families.

I commend Assemblyman Roberts and the sponsors of AB 342, and encourage this committee to support it.