Touching Base--Volume 1 Issue 2
Archived Information

April 2008 — Volume 1 Issue 2
"The success of students at Tinker Elementary School is a tribute to the progress Oklahoma is making to ensure every child is being challenged and is performing on grade level." - Secretary Margaret Spellings

Secretary's Activities

Secretary Margaret Spellings Congratulates Tinker Air Force Base Children, OK

Secretary Spellings visited Tinker AFB on February 28, 2008 to offer congratulations on the school's accomplishments under the No Child Left Behind Act. The Secretary thanked the children for their hard work, stating, "I heard about you all the way up in Washington, DC." During her visit, the Secretary toured classrooms, spoke to the students and handed out awards at a school assembly, which began with a moment of silence in remembrance of the children who had recently died on base. She also led a roundtable discussion with a group of parents. See also,

Since the Secretary's visit the Department's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools has awarded a grant under Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) to Mid-Del School District that includes Tinker Elementary. The funds will provide additional student and family support services to the school community in the aftermath of the deaths of the two children and their father.

Secretary Spellings on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me Radio Program

On March 8, 2008, Secretary Spellings went on the popular NPR game show, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. A celebrity guest answers questions about recent events on behalf of a caller. The Secretary was paired with Major Bob Munson, an active duty officer in the Air Force, currently stationed at Camp Taji, Iraq. The Secretary answered two out of three questions right, winning on behalf of Major Munson.

Department Leaders

Assistant Secretaries Clark and Briggs Visit Fort Benning, GA

On January 29, 2008, Assistant Secretaries Michell Clark and Kerrie Briggs participated in a DoD-sponsored team visit to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, and toured a Muskogee County high school. Fort Benning is anticipating a significant increase in military dependent children due to changes in Army activities at the installation over the next 5 to 10 years. The community is concerned about how an increase in the number of school-aged children will affect education facilities and programs. Assistant Secretaries Briggs and Clark led a group discussion with Fort Benning parents on issues and experiences they have had with their children's education. From the discussion it was found that the parents do research on the schools before deciding where to live. Their concerns include academic rigor, safety, class sizes, teachers' backgrounds, college attendance rates, special education services, availability of counselors and other support for students whose parents are deployed.

Assistant Secretary Briggs Speaks at Troops-to-Teachers Conference, Washington DC

On February 20, 2008, Assistant Secretary Briggs spoke at the Troops-to-Teachers Conference, which brought together Troops-to-Teachers managers from across the United States to discuss new efforts to improve the recruitment, certification, and placement of participants in the program. Troops-to-Teachers is a U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense program to help eligible military personnel begin a new career as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed. Assistant Secretary Briggs spoke on teacher demographics, retention and the role of state managers in reaching out to the military community

Assistant Secretary Briggs Keynotes STARBASE Directors Meeting, CA

On March 27, 2008, Assistant Secretary Briggs delivered remarks to the state and local directors of the Department of Defense's STARBASE program director's meeting in San Diego, California. Assistant Secretary Briggs discussed the work of the Academic Competitiveness Council and the recent release of the National Math Panel report, which is the first comprehensive report of its kind, focused on scientific evidence to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Regional Offices

Regional Representative Cohn Visits STARBASEs in IL and MI

On January 18, 2008, the Secretary's Regional Representative for Region V, Kristine Cohn, visited the STARBASE programs at Selfridge Air National Guard Base (MI) and the Naval Station Great Lakes (IL). Selfridge Air National Guard Base was the pioneer site for the entire STARBASE program. The Navy's regional commander invited Ms. Cohn to address new sailors at the graduation ceremony, which marked the end of boot camp, at the Naval Station Great Lakes-home to the Navy's only remaining boot camp.

Regional Representative Cohn Attends Parent Forum at Scott Air Force Base, IL

On February 12-13, 2008, Kristine Cohn attended the Military Parents Education Forum at Scott Air Force Base (IL), which was coordinated in conjunction with the base's School Liaison Officer, the IL Parental Information Resource Center grantee and the Regional Department of Education. Ms. Cohn discussed NCLB as a resource for military parents. She also visited some schools that primarily serve Scott AFB families, and participated in an event for county superintendents and principals.

Deputy Regional Representative Zoellick Visits STARBASE in MN

On February 19, 2008, Deputy Regional Representative for Region V, Todd Zoellick, visited STARBASE Minnesota in St. Paul. Mr. Zoellick told the students, teachers and instructors how the science and math taught through the STARBASE program would benefit them in the global economy. Mr. Zoellick also assisted 6th graders in designing an imaginary Mars colony using Computer-Aided Design (CAD), a software program that allowed students to blueprint an International Space Station.

Rich Siders, Region VIII, Deployed to Iraq

On February 5, 2008, attorney Rich Siders, who works in the Department's Office of Civil Rights, reported to Baghdad and will serve for seven months as a staff attorney/advisor for the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. He previously served in Afghanistan as a staff judge advocate for the Criminal Investigative Task Force, where he focused on the constitutionality of detaining battlefield detainees as enemy combatants and other detention related issues. He has been a naval reservist for two years, preceded by four years of active duty in the U.S. Navy.

For Your Information

Report on Disabilities Research Released, Washington D.C.

On January 23, 2008, the Interagency Committee on Disabilities Research (ICDR), made up of 12 federal government agencies and offices, including the U.S. Department of Education, released its '06-'07 Report to the President and Congress. The report recommended a better-coordinated system to provide services to veterans returning from battle with disabilities, especially veterans with brain injuries. For more information about ICDR, go to

Resource: Military Family Resource from Washington State Superintendent

In March 2008, the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction in Washington State, published a new issue of its Tough Topics Series, called Supporting Military Kids Through Deployment. The two-page handout is geared towards teachers and explains the stages of deployment, the symptoms of deployment related stress in kids, and teacher intervention strategies. See

Military Career Fair Held in Washington, DC

On March 4, 2008, had a career fair in Washington DC. The U.S. Department of Education was there to recruit persons in the military for specific jobs that are critical to the mission of the Department. For information about job opportunities in the U.S. Department of Education and other government agencies, go to

Watch for: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Impact Aid Programs

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Impact Aid Section 8002 Program in the Federal Register later this spring. The deadline for comments will be at least 30 days after the date of publication. Comments are to be addressed to Catherine Schagh, Director, Impact Aid Program, U.S. Department of Education, 400 MD Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20202-6244. For information about Impact Aid, see

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; Julie Ewart and Linda Pauley, Contributors
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Last Modified: 09/24/2009