MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Within the military, members are in a constant state of flux. Transitioning from one assignment to the next is hard enough, but adding school-age children into the mix creates additional challenges.
Military and civic leaders addressed this issue recently at the Association of Defense Communities National Summit, in Washington, D.C. They discussed how military leaders are working with local communities to ensure and improve the quality of public K-12 education for military-affiliated children.
“As I visit installations, the number one quality of life issue for Airmen with children is the quality of the schools,” said Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff at the summit. “They’ll say ‘hey, Chief, you can deploy me, you can send me to tough locations, you can make me live in small rural communities…we’re in! But once you start affecting the quality of our children’s education, that’s when we’re going to make difficult decisions’.”
He continued by noting that “as we make future basing decisions…we’re going to start at some of those quality of life issues because of retention. Airmen are not going to stay in the United States Air Force I’m moving them between school systems that are all over the map.” Gen. Goldfein concluded by assuring attendees that “all of the investment that you make in a quality school systems…is well made.”
Air University representatives also attended the Summit, speaking about efforts in the River Region as part of a panel on ‘The Increasing Importance of School Quality in Military Basing.’
“Public schools belong to their communities, and only they can ensure long-term solutions that will benefit all children,” said Dr. Brian Selmeski, chair of Air University’s public K-12 education working group. “We aim to be a catalyst and facilitator for that process. Simultaneously, we are pursuing near-term efforts to provide more military-affiliated families with more high-quality public educational options for their children.”
What was discussed primarily focused on the challenges of highly mobile military families, but they are not the only ones that will benefit from the improvements to local public schools.
“Air University’s particular challenge comes from our need to recruit a high-quality faculty, both military and civilian, as well as military students,” said Col. Jeffrey Donnithorne, Air University chief academic officer at the time of the summit. “We want to make coming to Montgomery an attractive option for military families. The university is excited to be a part of these important conversations across the River Region, as we seek to improve options for military-affiliated families—and eventually improving options for every family in the area.”