‘Operation Educate The Educators’ Gets It Right

Jill biden

This is what I expect from the White House—a national program that helps military families at a comprehensive level.

Dr. Jill Biden appeared at George Mason University Wednesday to announce that Joining Forces’ ‘Operation Educate the Educators’ reached their goal.  Over 100 colleges and universities have committed to including modules about the needs of military children in their coursework for future teachers.

This makes total sense to me.  Since almost every school district in the country has at least one military child, that seed of possibility needs to be planted in future teachers during their college years.

Teachers need to expect military kids to appear in their classrooms.  Teachers need to know about the resources available to them to help navigate military culture before a kid in their class is crying during the Star Spangled Banner.

Military kids already know this is true.  At the Operation Educate the Educators event, I talked to Abigail Bergmann, age 8, and her brother, Samuel, also age 8.  These two Army kids had already been homeschooled, attended local schools in Italy and now attended public school in Fairfax County, VA.  They agreed that teachers really did need to learn about military kids.  “If they aren’t educated,” Abigail asked.  “How can they teach us what to do?”

Their mom Daniela Bergmann was an Army brat herself.  “They have an entirely different life than I did,” said Daniela.  She remembered how her life as a military brat after Vietnam included more time living at overseas bases and less time moving around.  “We anticipate three moves in the next five years.”

Those PCS moves alone mean that Abigail and Samuel and so many military kids just like them will face different academic standards—especially in math.  They will have to find new friends and learn a new set of social rules.  They will have to suffer the slings and arrows and unbending rules of every school secretary and administrator they encounter.

A national effort to educate the people who deal directly with our kids is key—the kind of thing the folks at the Military Child Education Coalition have been fighting to get for years (Yay MCEC!).

Daniela Bergmann acknowledges that the effort doesn’t belong solely to the school administration.  “What is key for military families is for parents to have great relationships with the schools,” said Daniela.  “I can’t expect the school to anticipate my needs.  It is important for me to tell them how they can help.”

Through the Joining Forces program, school systems are already looking for ways to help military kids.  Dr. Biden noted transition rooms in San Diego.  Writing and art therapy offered to National Guard students in Illinois.  Tech savyy teachers in Georgia doing parent/teacher conferences with deployed service members via Skype.

“I’m always inspired by the strength and resilience of military families,” said Dr. Biden. “When I ask about priorities almost everyone mentions education.”

Education has been a top priority for military families for generations.  We have great hopes for future teachers of military children.  As  Abigail Bergmann reminded me today, “Military kids support America.”






About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.
  • Roger

    The military community is blessed that teachers are measured on their ability. I stop to think every time I see a teacher run to wal-mart to buy more paper for the kids to do cutouts instead of teaching them to read. They are covering another day in the classroom to avoid teaching!

  • Victoria

    The good news is that we are moving to a national curriculum (common core) which means (in theory) that all school districts will be covering the same material at the same time. This is great for military families that have to move because their kids won’t miss out academically (in theory). I hope it works the way it’s supposed to!

    • mel

      I think this should be top priority. We shouldn’t have to worry about whether our kids are behind at a new school or if they are bored because the prior school already covered certain topics. This was the greatest adjustment when we moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina. Wisconsin had implemented a new math program which I believe was called Every Day Math and when she started school in NC we found that she missed out on learning math concepts that her current class had already worked through. It was very disheartening for her to be behind and it was a source of great anxiety for her. So along with a new move and having to make new friends, she also had to deal with being lost in the classroom. We try to make our moves as manageable as possible for our kids and it would be great if they didn’t have to deal with the additional stress within their new school.

      • mel

        Sorry, should have stated, “when my daughter started school…”

  • spouse2000

    National Curriculum? Just plain wrong. Keeps the feds out of local schools.

    • Sarah