Touching Base--Volume 2 Issue 1
Archived Information

January 2009 — Volume 2 Issue 1
"Families like yours make many sacrifices for the good of our nation. The quality of your children's education should never be one of them." - Secretary Margaret Spellings
Message to Military Kids and Families Summit, Tacoma, Washington


ED Gives Books to Toys for Tots

Education Deputy Secretary Ray Simon donated approximately 12,000 new books from First Book to Lt. Gen Henry P. (Pete) Osman, USMC (Ret.) for the Marine Toys for Tots program in Quantico, VA, on Dec. 3, 2008. These books will be given to underprivileged children across the country during the holiday season. Recognizing the recent Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Education and Defense, Deputy Secretary Simon also gave 100 books to the base's W.W. Ashurst Elementary School library in recognition of its students' achievements. The day concluded with Deputy Secretary Simon's reading The Napping House to kindergarten students and going on a tour of the Toys for Tots warehouse. See photos at

Secretary Spellings Sends Message to Washington's Military Kids and Families Summit

Secretary Spellings delivered opening remarks via video to about 500 people who attended the Second Annual Washington State Military Kids and Families Summit on Nov. 14, 2008 in Tacoma, Washington. The U.S. Department of Education's Region X Office and the U.S. Department of Defense's Regional Liaisons Office co-sponsored the event with the theme, "Care, Connect and Collaborate," which joined families with educators, community leaders and those interested in supporting military children. Other coalition sponsors included: the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington National Guard, US Army Reserve, and Navy Region NW. The summit included workshops on deployment, transition, reunion and related issues. For more information go to

Secretary Spellings Announces Final Regulations To Strengthen No Child Left Behind

On Oct. 28, 2008, Secretary Margaret Spellings announced final regulations to strengthen and clarify No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The new regulations focus on how schools and districts can determine whether students are learning and what percentage of students are graduating. The regulations also require schools to notify parents in a clear and timely way about their public school choice and supplemental educational services (tutoring) options. The regulations seek to ensure that states make more information available to the public about which tutoring providers are available, how these providers are approved and monitored, and how effective they are in helping students improve. When military families move to a new area, they, along with other parents, can expect that schools will let them know if they are meeting the education goals set by the state. For more information about the final regulations and to view the secretary's full remarks, fact sheets, and a Webcast of the announcement, visit

Remembering a Veteran

Flag in Honor of Military Officer Is a Reminder of the Power of Education

On a credenza in the Education Secretary's Conference Room, a triangular shadow box containing an American flag rests between the pictures of the president and the vice president. In 2001, Lt. Col. William Joseph Sheridan arranged for ED officials to receive the American flag that would be draped on his casket. He was buried six years later with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 19, 2007. In the Army, he earned his GED and, subsequently, both his bachelor's and master's degrees. He credited a solid education for his rise from the enlisted ranks to becoming an officer. He thanked the country for his success by bequeathing the flag to the U.S. Department of Education.

ED and DoD

Impact Aid Regulations Amended

Amended regulations implementing the Payments for Federal Property portion of the Impact Aid program were published in the Federal Register Nov. 20, 2008. Under the amended regulations, a local official should consider the most developed and profitable use when setting valuation to military installation acreage. The new amendment is necessary to clarify and improve the administration of payments under section 8002. For more information, go to

VA Meets with ED

ED's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) staff and grantees met with representatives from the VA and the DoD about the OSERS-funded Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Model Systems National Data and Statistical Center on Nov. 12 and 13, 2008 in Denver, CO. The group began the work of developing a congressionally-mandated TBI registry for military service personnel. A follow-up meeting was held on December 8 in Washington, DC.

ED Informs Schools About Veterans Awareness Week

ED Review's Nov. 7, 2008 issue reminded schools to invite veterans to the classroom during National Veterans Awareness Week, Nov. 9-15, and especially on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The article encouraged schools to ask veterans to teach short lessons about the history and significance of Veterans Day to help students reflect upon the ideals of liberty, freedom, and democracy. For more information, go to

DoD Coordinates STEM Grants with ED

On Oct. 1, 2008, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), in coordination with ED, announced DoDEA's Pilot Grant Program to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning opportunities at military-connected schools. The awards were given to

  • The Hawaii Department of Education: Bridging the Mathematical Continuum Project, an initiative to prepare all students for achievement in Algebra I and II. Its three components are Math Whizz, Developing Mathematical Ideas, and TI-Nspire Teacher Leader Cadre.
  • The Beaufort County School District, South Carolina: Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID), a college preparatory program to help students who are not achieving to their potential and often are economically disadvantaged. The grant will introduce AVID into two military-impacted secondary schools: Robert Smalls Middle School and Battery Creek High School.
  • The El Paso Independent School District: contract with The Princeton Review to conduct a science coaching initiative to include small-group and one-on-one professional development sessions; classroom support and feedback to teachers; model lessons using best practices and the inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning; lunch time and conference period professional development; and co-teaching and model instruction for new science teachers. In the first year, teachers at four priority schools will be served: Bassett Middle and the elementary campuses of Bliss, Burnet and Travis.
For more information, please see

DoDEA Launches Website

On Sept. 30, 2008, The Department of Defense's Educational Partnership Branch launched a new website to provide information that directly relates to the work of educators and administrators in military-connected school systems. Among the resources is a directory of school liaison officers who coordinate and assist school-aged children of military parents with educational opportunities and information necessary to succeed in school. The site also explains impact aid.

Student Data Collection Pilot To Increase Return of Impact Aid Forms

The Department of the Army and ED met Sept. 15, 2008 to coordinate the efforts of a pilot program to increase the number of Impact Aid survey forms returned to schools. The number of returned forms can increase the funding received by schools affected by Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The first phase of the pilot is to advertise to parents the importance of returning the surveys. The focus will be to reach each student at the school districts serving Fort Rucker and Fort Knox, (approximately 20,000), thus catching not only active duty military, but also contractors and federal employees. ED has already provided teleconference Impact Aid training with Fort Knox schools. The second phase will be to implement electronic survey filing and the use of source checks during the 2009-2010 school year.

DoD and ED Collaborate for Data Sharing

DoDEA's Educational Partnership Branch is collaborating with the EDFacts Data Usage Team to apply EDFacts data to identify student academic needs and educational opportunities for stakeholders. This information will drive decisions about priorities and partnerships with military-connected school districts.

ED Enters Computer Matching Agreement with VA

ED and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) entered into an agreement to carry out a computer match in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. §552a), as amended, in compliance with the Office of Management and Budget's Final Guidance Interpreting the Provisions of Public Law 100-503, the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (54 FR 25818 (June 19, 1989)) and OMB Circular A-130, Appendix I (65 FR 77677 (December 12, 2000)). The Computer Matching Agreement was developed to verify that those applying for federal aid to pay college expenses under certain federally assisted benefit programs are veterans. Matching computer records during the application processing is the most efficient and expeditious means of obtaining information to verify veteran status. As a result of this computer match, ED expects to prevent improper payments to applicants who are not veterans.

ED Employees

ED Employees Donate to Troops Overseas

For the holidays, ED employees donated needed items to our military members deployed overseas through Operation Support Our Troops (OSOT) and ED's Office of Management. OSOT works to improve the morale and welfare of the armed forces deployed in harm's way. One way they accomplish this is by sending care packages, as well as personal messages of support, and items that are not readily available to our troops in their deployed locations. Items include personal care items and toiletries, phone cards, pens, stationery, post cards, holiday decorations, and sports equipment. The project began four years ago with staff at the General Services Administration (GSA ) and has since spread to include other agencies, including ED. For more information about OSOT, go to

Veteran Joins U.S. Department of Education

Jermaine L. Sullivan joined the ED Washington, DC office in Oct. 2008 as a Special Events Manager in the Office of Communications and Outreach. He comes to ED from the Army Office of the Surgeon General, where he served in the Executive Office as the Protocol Officer. He began as an enlisted airman and culminated his career as a captain in the U.S. Air Force. He holds a Master's of Education from American InterContinental University Online.

ED Employees Honor Children of Fallen Heroes

On Sept. 20, 2008, ED employees and their families joined others on the Washington Monument Grounds in Washington, DC, for A Time of Remembrance to honor 160 children who lost parents in either Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). The goal of the event was to unite Americans in celebration of the lives of those who have died to protect the United States. Family members, whose relatives had died in American conflicts, from the Revolutionary War to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, attended.

For Your Information

Wounded Warrior Scholarships Awarded

On Dec. 15, 2008, 25 service men and women from across the country were awarded full tuition scholarships to pursue degrees from Colorado Technical University (CTU) Online. The Yellow Ribbon Fund joined CTU in making the awards, which include course materials underwritten by Pearson Education. The online program allows recipients to get a college education while continuing treatment for war injuries at their duty stations or medical centers. Please see
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Tackling Tough Topics: An Educator's Guide to Working With Military Kids Released

Released in Nov. 2008, this booklet is an overview of key situations which military children may have to face: deployment, reunion, violence/war, stress, grief, loss, and death. Published by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, it provides practical, hands-on guidance for talking with students about these topics and includes tips for fostering resilience. To read the booklet, see

Contacts: Meredith Beaton, Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach; Emily Casarona, Liaison to the Military Community; Cynthia Hearn Dorfman, Advisor; Carrie Jasper, Editor; Kathy Facon, Todd May, Connie Gillette, Jermaine L. Sullivan, Sandra Wells, Judy Boysha, Cherie McClung, Marilyn Hall, Kathy Walls-Rivas, Cathy Schagh, Adam Honeysett, Linda Pauley, Donna Foxley, Mona M. Johnson, Victoria Holowink, Elizabeth Pitts, Lynda Edwards, Contributors
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Last Modified: 09/24/2009