Touching Base--Volume 1 Issue 1
Archived Information

January 2008 — Volume 1 Issue 1
"The President and the Department of Education are committed to supporting military families and ensuring children of military families receive a quality education." – Secretary Margaret Spellings

Secretary Spellings Visits Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

In September 2007, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, during her back-to-school bus tour through the Midwest ( The Secretary, who was known as "Starbuck," her military "call sign" while on base, had breakfast with military spouses and discussed education issues that face military families. She also toured STARBASE, a Department of Defense (DoD) program that supplements local school curriculum with 25 contact hours of science and math activities.

STARBASE targets at-risk fifth-graders and offers them an opportunity to participate in hands-on activities in aviation and space exploration. The program hosts 75 class sessions a year; over 4,000 students from eight area school districts have participated.

During the Secretary's visit, she took part in a lesson in which students watched clips from "Apollo 13" and then discussed what they would have done in the same situation. The students also built water rockets. Four students launched their rockets, and then the Secretary, with the help of Colonel Colleen Ryan, launched her own. Afterwards, a student presented Secretary "Starbuck" Spellings with "wings" in honor of her successful launch.

Later, the Secretary read The Story of Ferdinand to the children as part of the Jumpstart Read for the Record campaign (
). She also presented a copy of the book to both STARBASE and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Empowering Parents School Box Released

Secretary Spellings released a new publication, the Empowering Parents School Box, at the first nationally televised Parent Town Hall Meeting on September 19, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio. The school box was the cornerstone of the Secretary's Midwestern bus tour and consists of seven items to help families: three booklets (What Every Parent Needs to Know, Taking a Closer Look, and Learning Checklists); a bookmark on options for parents; a door hanger on Academic Competitiveness Grants; a poster on parental involvement; and a resource guide.

Various organizations that give support to military families, such as Family Assistance Centers, New Comers and Child and Youth Programs have already requested more than 2,000 copies of the Empowering Parents School Box, which is available free from the U.S. Department of Education. To order copies (order # ED003651K) contact EDPUBS at or 1-877-433-7827 (toll free). The publication can also be viewed online at .

Secretary Spellings Launches Operation Caring Classroom

Secretary Spellings delivered a message about The Armed Forces Foundation's Operation Caring Classroom ( to students while visiting Andrew J. Brown Academy in Indianapolis during her back-to-school bus tour. The Pentagon Channel broadcast her message on September 24, 2007 to military families around the world.

The Secretary taped her message while working on a letter writing and crafts campaign with the students. This campaign encourages elementary school children to remember and support the children of military service members on Veteran's Day by sending letters, cards and other craft projects.

The program was launched this school year by Secretary Spellings and Patricia Driscoll, President of The Armed Forces Foundation, and involved one school from every state in the country.

Assistant Secretary Kerri Briggs Travels to Fort Bliss, Texas

On October 29, 2007, Assistant Secretary Briggs participated in a DoD-sponsored team visit to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Fort Bliss expects to see one of the largest expansions of Army activities over the next 5 - 10 years. The community is concerned about the effect that thousands of additional school-aged children will have on education facilities and programs. Assistant Secretary Briggs led a group discussion with Fort Bliss parents on how they identify quality schools for their children and what issues they encounter in transferring from community to community during their military careers.

Secretary Spellings Reads Names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Secretary Spellings joined government officials, military family members and the public on November 8, 2007, for the "Reading of the Names" of the more than 58,000 veterans killed or missing in action, who are remembered on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ( This year's event marked the 25th anniversary commemoration of the memorial ( and was only the fourth time in the memorial's 25-year existence that all the names were read aloud.

Secretary Spellings Praises Nonprofits

On November 22, 2007, Secretary Spellings was interviewed by CNN about how such nonprofits as The Armed Forces Foundation and ThanksUSA help military families. ThanksUSA is an online treasure hunt game based on American values and history ( The players are encouraged to donate to the scholarship fund that benefits the children of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. ThanksUSA has given out more than 1,000 scholarships, totaling nearly $4 million.

ED Says Thank You to the Troops

As part of the Thanksgiving observance, U.S. Department of Education (ED) employees joined Americans from across the country in texting "thank you" to soldiers overseas

Assistant Secretary Michell Clark Addresses Army Accessions Research Consortium

Assistant Secretary Clark spoke at the Army Accessions Research Consortium on December 6, 2007, in Norfolk, Virginia. He talked about ED policies that address the critical need to educate high school students in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math. The focus of the symposium was adapting Army accessions and initial training to the requirements of the components of the Army Force Generation model (ARFORGEN), a program that aims to produce an increased number of trained, ready and cohesive units within the Army.

Assistant Secretary Lauren Maddox Delivers Holiday Cheer to Fort Belvoir Students

Over the holiday season, the U.S. Department of Education donated 1,400 books supplied by PBS and Lyric Publishing to the children of military families who attend Fort Belvoir Elementary School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In addition, Assistant Secretary Maddox and a group of other Department of Education officials presented a handmade holiday card that was signed with greetings from Department employees.

Resource: Military OneSource

1-800-342-9647 or for consultants who are available 24-hours a day, 7-days-a-week, 365 days a year to provide referrals for non-medical, short-term, face-to-face counseling and email consultants on topics such as education, parenting, elder care, transition, special needs and other family matters.

Contacts: Lauren Maddox, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach; Meredith Beaton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Outreach and External Affairs; Emily Casarona, Liaison to the Military Community; Cynthia Hearn Dorfman, Advisor; Carrie Jasper, Editor; Hannah Stearns, Writer
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Note: This document contains information about and from public and private entities and organizations for the reader's information. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any entity or organization or the products or services offered or views expressed. This publication also contains hyperlinks and URLs created and maintained by outside organizations. They are provided for the reader's convenience; however, the Department is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.

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Last Modified: 04/23/2008