Touching Base--Volume 6 Issue 1

June 2013 — Volume 6, Issue 2

Celebrating the Military-Connected Child

During April,  the Month of the Military Child, DoDEA focused on the educational transition issues that affect military-connected children by inviting  three military-connected students (2 students attend public school and 1 student attends Quantico Middle/High School) to speak at their Headquarters (HQ) DoDEA Speaker Series event. Heartfelt, moving, and inspirational stories were shared by the students.  Click here to view the event.

Military Children Share Their Experiences Through the Arts at the Department of Education

On Wednesday, April 3, in celebration of the Month of the Military Child, the U.S. Department of Education Student Art Exhibit Program partnered with the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) to host the art exhibit "America's Children.” The exhibit featured some 50 works of visual art and writing from students based around the U.S., including Puerto Rico, and Canada and Germany.  Communicating the unique life experiences of military-connected children at the event were Taylor Walton, MCEC Student 2 Student president at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Va.; ED's Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Programs Eric Waldo; Mary Keller, president and CEO of MCEC; Patricia Shinseki, board member of MCEC; and student performers from Mount Vernon High School.  To read about the day's event and see photos of the students, visit


Flint Arts on the Road Brings a Community Together for Education

On April 22, the U.S. Department of Education was proud to host the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint School of Performing Arts, Flint Youth Theatre, and Tapology for the Flint Arts on the Road student art exhibit, which opened. Flint Arts on the Road is the first initiative of Flint Cultural Center institutions to produce cross-disciplinary collaborative programming showcasing the special talents of exceptional students in the visual and performing arts. The visit to D.C. for the opening also provided them a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience as they met and performed with their peers at several D.C.-area arts education institutions. Click here to read more about the event and click here to view additional photos from the event.


Early Learning Conference Call Held

On April 24, the U.S. Department of Education's (ED) held a conference call as a part of the outreach on the President's early learning proposal, ‘Preschool for All' to get input from stakeholders,  Over 200 stakeholders from the parent /family, community, and faith-based organizations participated including representatives from over 20 State Departments of Education and 25 local school districts.  Both ED and HHS senior staff were on hand to discuss the early learning plan, the funding, and respond to questions regarding early learning that affect the parent/family, community, and faith-based organizations. 

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Center for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships, moderated the conference call. Steven Hicks, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Early Learning in Office of Elementary and Secondary Education From the US Department of Education, and Richard Rodriguez Senior Advisor for Early Childhood Development and Education, Administration for Children and Families, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development from the U.S.  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led the discussion.
Questions asked included:

  • Any sense of the criteria for grants under the new money that will be available for early learning?
  • How will parents be engaged in the new programs?
  • Many preschools are not affordable; will there be subsidies or reimbursement monies for parents?

To sign up to receive updates, please visit


Department of Education and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) D.C. Charter Schools Visit

Many military families are concerned with the variance of access to high-quality educational options for their students when transitioning between duty stations.  A 2008 DoD GAO study recommended offering military families a public charter school option in areas with poorly-performing local schools. DoDEA will be leading the effort on developing guidance/standards that can be implemented by the military services in the establishment of these schools.  On May 7, 2013, school tours were the first-step in the information gathering process for developing this guidance.

Stephan Huh, ED (Charter Schools Office), served as tour facilitator and provided participants with an overview guide to charter schools.  The first school visited was E.L. Haynes, a Tier 1 DC PCS which currently serves 950 students from grades Pre-K through 10. The second school visited was the newly renovated Capital City Public Charter School, which serves 950 students in Pre-K through 12.  Scott Pearson, PCSB Executive Director, provided comments and discussed how the PCSB is leading the transformation of public education in DC and serves as a national model for charter school authorizing and accountability. Discussion also included topics around change in current charter school laws to enable schools to give enrollment preference to military-connected students and specific questions regarding local military installation charter school initiatives.  The last tour stop was the DC PCSB.  The PCSB is the sole charter school authorizer in the district and annually evaluates charter schools for academic results, legal compliance and fiscal management, and holds them accountable for results using a Performance Management Framework (PMF). Officials discussed their various roles at the PCSB to include oversight and accountability.  Information gathered from these visits will be used by the DoD Charter School Task Force (led by DoDEA) develop standards related to the establishment and operation of charter schools on military installations in coordination with the DoD Components, the Military Services and ED.


A New Family Engagement Partnership

The U.S. Department of Education's (ED) Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was pleased to announce on May 9 a new partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) to advance family engagement in education across the country. Through the partnership, ED and NCFL will jointly develop and implement strategies to raise the awareness and understanding of effective family and community engagement in education. Emphasis will be placed on how teachers and families can better collaborate to improve student engagement and learning.  NCFL brings to this work more than 20 years of experience providing tools and resources for educators and parents to create lifelong learning opportunities for the entire family. To learn more about the partnership, click here.


STEM Initiative to Advance Student Achievement

On May 20, to advance Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in classrooms around the world Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) signed a partnership agreement. The partnership agreement will be an initiative and first STEM partnership between the U.S. Army and DoDEA. To relate directly to DoDEA's K-12 STEM content and curriculum, the program will include the development of a specific civil works project or other USACE functions.  To learn more go to


New Student Loan Resource Available to U.S. Service Members
U.S. Department of Education and Student Loan Servicers Collaborate to Provide Timely, Useful Information

The release of a new brochure announced May 23 provides more information to America's servicemen and servicewomen about their federal education loans, special benefits available to them, and their repayment options with.

"We know that our servicemen and women are faced with an abundance of challenges and transitions while deployed and upon returning to civilian life," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "With Memorial Day approaching, we want to redouble our efforts to ease their transition and provide them with educational opportunities, resources, and the ongoing support they have earned. This easy-to-read brochure is a small but important way to help – it outlines what service members need to know to manage their student loans and maximize their benefits."

The brochure, entitled For Members of the U.S. Armed Services: What You Need to Know About Your Federal Student Loan Benefits, was developed by the U. S. Department of Education and the four Title IV Student Loan Servicers: FedLoan Servicing, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Nelnet Education Loan Servicing and Sallie Mae Department of Education Loan Services.

The free brochure is divided into three parts: the first section describes the special benefits and repayment options available to service members; the second section offers helpful tips for active duty or deployed service members; and the third lists useful student loan resources. Some of the tips are:

  • Establishing online access to student loan accounts to review and make payments online;
  • Exploring repayment plans based on income, which could qualify borrowers for low or zero payment and possible loan forgiveness;
  • Signing up for automatic payments to help keep loans current; and
  • Placing an active duty alert on credit reports to reduce the risk of identity theft.

Consumers can access the brochure at


Expanded Funding for Early Learning

On June 4, the White House released state-by-state fact sheets, outlining what states could expect to receive in federal funding to expand early learning initiatives in their states.

The President's proposal builds upon the strong work already done by states across the country. Governors have called for expanded access to preschool to more four-year-olds. These state leaders recognize that early learning helps prepare young children for educational success, provides crucial support for families, and ultimately strengthens our nation's economy.

The fact sheets explain how the President's plan will:

  • provide high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds,
  • invest in high-quality infant and toddler early learning and development, and
  • expand effective parent and family supports.


States Recognize Importance of Military Student Identifier in Education Data Systems

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office reported that: "There is no data available on these [military-connected] students that could be used to assess the academic achievement or educational outcomes, or determine where funding needs are the greatest." An identifier would recognize where military-connected students attend school, their academic performance in reading, math and science, graduation rates and how they perform over time. The identifier would not be intended to create an accountable subgroup, but rather establish a report-only requirement in the same manner as migrant and homeless children. Identifying this information would help military-connected students by:

  • Facilitating data-driven decision making to improve distribution of DoD and local resources, interventions and other support for maximum impact to schools and students in need.
  • Building awareness at the school and classroom level of students that might be affected by the deployment or service of a parent or guardian or by frequent moves. For example, collecting information on attendance can assist in ascertaining whether military children are absent more often during the deployment of military parents.

A few states have recognized the importance of assigning an identifier for military connected students in their educational data systems.  Texas, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina and now most recently Nevada all have some type of legislation in place to identify their military school age children and provide data on their attendance and educational outcomes.



Toyota Family Learning Grants

Toyota Family Learning is offering grants to communities to fund new family mentor programs and service learning programs targeting vulnerable families; mobile learning adventures for families; online resources; and a website community that will inspire hundreds of thousands of families across the nation to learn, interact, and thrive together.  Toyota Family Learning is a six-year nationwide initiative that will directly address national educational needs to provide opportunities for families. Led by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) and funded by Toyota, the program will feature an intergenerational solution to educational challenges that responds to societal changes and opportunities—including the latest innovations in mobile learning—while engaging families online, offline, and on the go. Click here to learn more and apply. Applications are being accepted now through June 24.

For more information and to see documents in additional languages, visit

Contacts: Massie Ritsch, acting assistant secretary for communications and outreach; Carrie Jasper, writer and editor; Jennifer Dailey-Perkins, Chareese Ross, Gary Jones, and Kathy Facon contributors

To subscribe, update your subscription, modify your password or email address, or stop subscriptions at any time go to Subscriber Preferences Page. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact

To comment on this newsletter, please contact
Touching Base can be found online at:

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.

Print this page Printable view Bookmark  and Share
Last Modified: 07/10/2013