Touching Base--Volume 3 Issue 4

September 2010 — Volume 3 Issue 4

To all of our military families serving this Nation around the world, I offer my sincerest thank you. Your courage, service, and sacrifice are an inspiration to us all.
–First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House, July 4, 2010

School Bus Tour Stops At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

From Aug. 26 to 31, 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went on a tour visiting schools, honoring and listening to teachers, and meeting with parents and students. At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Jamaica Island Family Recreation Area (N.H.), Secretary Duncan had a discussion with military families about how educators can address the unique needs of military children. To read about the “Courage in The Classroom” bus tour, go to

Secretary Arne Duncan and Dr. Jill Biden Listen and Learn

On June 22, 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined Dr. Jill Biden, Congressman Jim Moran (Va.), Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Fairfax County Schools Superintendent Jack Dale and other school and military officials for a classroom visit and roundtable discussion at Fort Belvoir Elementary School. They learned from military parents of children enrolled at the school about the educational challenges affecting them. Issues shared by the active duty service members and spouses in attendance were similar to those often voiced by civilian community members: the need for better teacher training, more after-school programs, funds for construction and renovation, and higher standards for students. In addition, military families shared their unique concerns: the challenges faced by moving multiple times—most families change duty stations every two to three years and are experiencing repeated deployments to war and conflict zones—, the difficulty of transferring between schools in different states or from DOD-operated schools on bases across the world, and the need for the Interstate Compact. To watch a part of this listening and learning session, go to

Secretary Duncan and Dr. Biden Spoke at the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) Conference

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered remarks at the MCEC 2010 annual conference at the Gaylord National Hotel and Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on July 21 to over 1,200 attendees. He spoke about how ED is responding to the unique challenges facing military-connected children and youths, including the need for support for state-developed common core standards, better data collection and improving the lowest-performing schools. He also spoke of his roundtable with military families at Fort Belvoir, Va., (see preceding article). Senior military leaders, military personnel and families, school liaison officers, educators, counselors, community leaders and representatives of private organizations attended the conference. MCEC is a nonprofit focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all children of military families affected by mobility, separation and transition. MCEC conducts research, develops resources, hosts professional institutes and publishes resources for military families and their supporters.

Dr. Biden was the keynote speaker on July 23 at the MCEC Conference. As a Blue Star Mom, Dr. Biden has made military families one of her top priorities. She has traveled to many bases to speak with soldiers and their families. She and first lady Michelle Obama are striving to raise awareness and get all Americans to show appreciation for the special sacrifices of the military and their families.

Michelle Obama Pledges Support for Military Families

On June 13, first lady Michelle Obama launched a national challenge for every American to find ways to make life easier for the families of U.S. troops. Mrs. Obama spoke to 3,500 troops and their families at Camp Pendleton as part of her ongoing mission to help military families. She called the Marine base and the surrounding Southern California cities a model for community support of troops. As first lady, Mrs. Obama has made one of her defining missions that of helping the country to better understand and appreciate the valuable service of military personnel and their families, and of making sure that their voices are heard in Washington, their needs are met, and all Americans realize they should support and engage military families. To read her speech in its entirety, go to

Dr. Jill Biden Celebrates July 4 With Troops in Iraq

Dr. Biden wrapped up her recent trip to Iraq with a roundtable discussion with servicemen and women from the Texas National Guard 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The group was preparing to be redeployed back to the United States, and some time was spent talking about National Guard family support programs, including the Family Readiness Group and the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. “Members of the National Guard and Reserve face unique challenges as they balance the demands of their military service with their responsibilities at home,” she said. To view a photo of Dr. Biden with the servicemen and women and to read the blog about her visit, go to,

ED Staff Present at MCEC Conference

On July 22, 2010, Kathleen Facon, chief of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and Scott Pearson, associate assistant deputy secretary in the Office of Innovation and Improvement at ED, presented at the workshop Enhancing Military Students’ Learning Opportunities and Achievement through Federal Partnerships and Collaboration. The purpose of the presentation was to educate participants about the collaborative efforts of the two federal agencies. The presenters shared how DoD and ED are working together to ease military dependent students’ transition from DoDEA schools to local education agency (LEA) schools that educate military students. They also discussed how they are supporting military families and the schools that serve them.

Scott Pearson was also part of the education panel Leadership Lessons in the Education Setting: Implications for the Military-Connected Student. The discussion included the long-term implications of high mobility rates, the constant challenges of transition, the effects of multiple deployments on children and families, the advantages of common core state standards and improved assessments, the availability of data on military students’ academic achievement, high school graduation and college attendance rates of military-connected students, and education policies – in sum, the decisions, innovations and issues that affect military children. The other panelists were: Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Norman E. Arflack, executive director, Interstate Commission on Educational Opportunities for Military Children; Joe Hairston, superintendent of schools, Baltimore County Public Schools, Md.; Robert Muller, superintendent of schools, Killeen Independent School District, Texas; Christine Hill, deputy chief of curriculum for DoDEA; William Harrison, chairman of the board of education for North Carolina and moderator, vice chair of the MCEC board of directors.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton participated in an MCEC senior leadership panel on July 23, on the topic Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Leaders. Panelists discussed how educators, military professionals, parents, and mentors can lay the groundwork for children’s future success and responded to questions related to the challenges facing military families. The other panelists were Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., chief of staff, U.S. Army; Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, U.S. Navy; Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, chief of staff, U.S. Air Force; Gen. James T. Conway, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; Vice Adm. John P. Currier, chief of staff, U.S. Coast Guard; and Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director, Air National Guard. For more about educational resources for military children and families, go to

ED Outreach Staff Visit Military Installations

On July 1, at Naval Station (NS) Great Lakes (Ill.), ED’s Scott Pearson, deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Innovation and Improvement, and Eric Waldo, special assistant to Secretary Arne Duncan, met with military personnel and spouses to listen and learn from them. Officers, school administrators and staff, sailors, and spouses with school-aged children participated in the meeting. Among the issues discussed were: families transitioning to NS Great Lakes; meeting the emotional needs of children with parents deployed to combat zones; and federal impact aid.

As part of ED’s outreach, Cynthia Hearn Dorfman, chief management officer and director of regional operations for the Office of Communications and Outreach, made a visit to Fort McCoy in rural western Wisconsin on July 20. Ms. Dorfman led a discussion about federal education reform issues with teachers and observed Fort McCoy Environmental Division’s summer academy for local kindergarten-12 grade math and science teachers, a federally funded on-site training activity. The training provided outdoor demonstrations of how everyday activities connect math and science lessons to real-world environmental careers and issues.

During her visit, Ms. Dorfman also met with a small group of military spouses to get their input on the challenges that face school-aged children of military personnel.

Feedback Received About ED Veterans Employment Program

The chief human capital officer recently received feedback from the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM’s) Human Capital Office on ED’s Veterans Employment Operational Plan FY2010-12 as required in Executive Order 13518 – Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government. Human Capital and Client Services (HCCS) is pleased to announce that ED’s plan is considered as a model agency plan. HCCS provides leadership and direction in the formulation and implementation of policies, programs, and systems to promote efficient and effective human capital management. HCCS represents ED on human capital and human resources matters with OPM, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), other federal agencies, the Congress and the public.

FSA Conducts Workshop at National Guard Family Programs Volunteer Training Workshop Conference

Michelle Draughn, chief of staff for Student Aid Awareness and Applicant Services, and Gary Rozier, management and program analyst, at Federal Student Aid (FSA), were presenters at the 2010 National Guard Family Programs Volunteer Training Workshop in New Orleans, La. Aug. 3-4. The workshop, $100 Billion in Financial Aid for Eligible Students, provided information on financial aid for military personnel and how to conduct free scholarship searches at To view some of the workshop, go to .

Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Prepares for Conference

On Sept. 15-17, RSA held the 2010 National Employment and Disability Conference in Arlington, Va. RSA has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which will sponsor a session to discuss veteran-specific employment issues. This session is expected to bring 150 VA employment specialists to Washington, D.C. For more information, go to

ED’s Veterans Employment Program

ED’s Veterans Employment Program will host the first Veterans Appreciation Day in November to coincide with Veterans Day. The event will be for veterans currently employed at ED. For more information, please contact Len Clark at 202-401-3855 or

The Veterans Employment Program hosted teleconferences, “Strengthening Your Resume for Federal Employment,” every Tuesday from June 1 through Aug. 31 for military spouses, veterans, and military personnel, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The sessions helped veterans understand the federal application process. Veterans were shown how to write resumes and applications for federal civil service employment, and how to translate their military skills development, training, and leadership into skills and competencies related to the civilian federal government.

The Veterans Employment Program launched VetsConnect@ED, the first veterans networking group at ED. The first meet-and-greet sessions were held Aug. 26 and 31, when all veterans employed at the Department got together to form a networking group, supply information for a profile of all veterans hired and convey success stories within ED to OPM. The group will allow veterans to keep abreast of information pertinent to veterans and military spouses and to collaborate on all that’s going on.

Secretary’s 13 Proposed Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs Published

The secretary’s priorities for FY 2011 and beyond have been published for public comment in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Federal Register. Comments were due Sept. 7, 2010. Projects that are designed to address the needs of military-connected students are in the Statement of Proposed Priority 9. The conditions leading to the proposed priority are military deployments following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which have placed an enormous strain on military families and their children. Also, over 80 percent of children of active-duty military personnel attending elementary or secondary school attend public schools in the United States. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the Department of Education and the Department of Defense acknowledge the unique educational needs and challenges faced by the children of military servicemen and servicewomen. As a result, this priority is part of the administration's commitment to the families of its servicemen and servicewomen. Go to for more information.

Legislation Supporting Veterans

The House introduced H.R. 5826, to amend Title 38 (Veterans' Benefits) of the U. S. Code to expand the definition of “active duty” for the purposes of the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs to include certain service in the National Guard. For more information, go to .

The House introduced H.R. 5933 to amend Title 38 (Veterans' Benefits) of the U. S. Code to improve educational assistance for veterans who served in the Armed Forces after Sept. 11, 2001.

The Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs hearings held on Aug. 5 considered several bills, including S. 3447, the "Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010," to amend Title 38 (Veterans' Benefits) of the U. S. Code to improve educational assistance for veterans who served in the Armed Forces after Sept. 11, 2001.

DODEA’s Educational Partnership Sponsors a New Program for Military-Connected Schools

DODEA has launched a new program that supports teachers who work with special needs children of military personnel by providing them 16 special education training modules, with insights and tips for any educator or support staff serving military children. Schools that serve military families can find a summary of the professional development topics and find out how to order the training modules by visiting DoDEA's Educational Partnership website at, or by emailing David Butler at Upon request, DoDEA's Educational Partnership will provide these high-quality special education resources free of charge for educators.

Contacts:Carrie Jasper, Writer and Editor; Charles Boyer, Special Advisor for Military Families; Cynthia Hearn Dorfman, Advisor; Julie Ewart, Len Clark, and Michelle Draughn, Kathy Facon, Contributors
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Last Modified: 10/13/2010