Uneven school standards and quality is not a sacrifice military families should have to make

A military spouse whose family has moved 16 times and whose children attended 11 different schools makes a compelling case on an issue that continues to be politicized —the embrace of Common Core State Standards.

Patty Hunzeker, an educator now living in Virginia and a member of Military Families for High Standards, has seen first hand the learning loss experienced by students who must move from state to state with wildly inconsistent standards and uneven school quality. As she wrote in a commentary for the Virginian Pilot:

The answer for military-connected kids and for civilian kids alike comes down to high and measurable academic standards that are consistent from state to state, such as the Common Core State Standards.

As a military spouse, I taught in six different states, in some states several times, as well as overseas in the Department of Defense schools. I experienced first-hand the differences and gaps.

As an educator, I felt fortunate to be able to bring the best practices and high standards from the many places I taught into each classroom. During my years of teaching and moving, I always wondered why there weren’t common high standards throughout the states. And now that more than 40 states, Washington, D.C., and the Department of Defense Education Activity thus far have adopted Common Core, much effort is needed to ensure that they are actually implemented.

The reality is that Common Core is still under attack from some quarters, although mostly around the shared tests taken to measure whether students are reaching the higher bar established by Common Core. Only half of the nation’s states are still members of the Smarter Balanced and PARCC testing consortia, and implementation of the standards remains uneven from state to state and school to school.

Some families—especially those who have stayed in one district—will never understand what these school transitions are like for military families because they only know what they know. They think their local school is fine and their standards are fine, because they’ve never had to move to an area where the quality drops precipitously—where the parent was on the hook to keep their kids engaged in rigorous lessons.

“Ignorance is bliss” is not a luxury afforded to military families like Hunzeker’s. And uneven school standards and quality is not a sacrifice they should have to make.

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Tracy Dell'Angela

Tracy Dell'Angela

Tracy loves to ask questions and write stories. She roots for the underdog, wants our nation to reimagine schools and the teaching profession, and seethes about how much school inequity she sees. She spent most of her career as a journalist covering schools and crime. She and her husband raised two daughters in a diverse suburb of Chicago. She currently runs an education foundation in her community and formerly served as managing editor of Education Post. After leaving journalism she explored her wonkier side communicating school research at the University of Chicago and the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. She is Californian by birth and a Chicagoan in spirit. She loves the outdoors and all animals, especially her spoiled "dingo" dog.

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