Tens of thousands of military families received an update on their fall plans July 15, when the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) announced return-to-school protocols for the 2020-2021 school year. Families can get more information on those plans – which include a July 28 deadline for families at any of the 160 Pentagon-run schools to choose a virtual-only school environment – at DoDEA’s website.
“Education is a critical quality of life component for military families and communities,” said DoDEA Director Tom Brady in his message accompanying the announcement. MOAA shares that opinion and has been working on several fronts to improve that component – not just for families in the DoDEA system, and not just during the pandemic.
The ongoing FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) process offers several examples of MOAA-supported programs. MOAA will continue to monitor these proposals in both the House and Senate and work to secure their inclusion in the final NDAA:
- DoDEA Directives. The House NDAA draft would mandate a DoDEA performance study, which would include a “review of the curriculum relating to health, resiliency, and nutrition” taught to nearly 70,000 military dependents, as well as an “analysis of the outcomes experienced by students” measured against other school systems and using DoDEA methodologies. The Senate version includes mandatory class-size limits: An 18-to-1 student-teacher ration for kindergarten through third grade, and language capping class sizes for fourth grade and up to the same average student-teacher ratio as the 2019-20 school year.
- Impact Aid. The House NDAA draft allocates $40 million for providing assistance to local educational agencies with significant numbers of military children, however the amount of Impact Aid given has not kept up with inflation and the needs of school districts. MOAA urges Congress to provide full impact aid funding that realistically covers expenses schools have and gives schools the flexibility to support military children in a COVID-19 environment.
- EFMP Improvements. MOAA’s work to draw attention to the Exceptional Family Member Program has led to the inclusion of meaningful EFMP reforms in the House NDAA draft, including standardization of the program across the services and the creation of performance metrics. Learn more about these reforms here.
Beyond the NDAA, MOAA is a part of the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative – a collaborative effort to identify and meet the needs of military families during the coronavirus crisis. And MOAA’s own COVID-19 Relief Fund supports ongoing national programs addressing military spouse employment and financial education, as well as grants to MOAA chapters to perform community outreach to currently serving and veteran families alike.
You can add your support for the above programs, and others, by joining MOAA or upgrading your MOAA membership, and by staying up to date on the latest MOAA advocacy news as the NDAA process continues.