Education in a Military Community – Community Conversation

Education In a Military Community
Fayetteville Regional Chamber of Commerce – presenters
Fayetteville Regional Association of REALTORS – presenting sponsorship
December 3, 2014

Eric Guckian – Governor Pat McCrory’s Education Adviser
Major General (Retired) Cornell Wilson – Governor Pat McCrory’s Military Adviser
Dr. Frank Till – Superintendent of Cumberland County schools
Reema Khrais – education reporter for WUNC radio
Colonel Jeffrey Sanborn – Fort Bragg’s Garrison Commander
Major General (Retired) Bennie Williams – former Chief of Staff for Baltimore public schools

Moderator:  Matthew Leatherman (Chamber Policy Advisory)

The Army has informed military host communities that it will factor local public education quality and scores into future military troop relocations.  The two hour meeting opened up communication between the military and the community.  Below are the talking points from each speaker.

Reema Khrais:

  • There are 3 new policies that transformed education (teacher pay, budget, and common core)
  • More teachers are leaving for different reasons but mainly tied to the budget
  • There are 7,000 less teacher assistants
  • The current budget is based on student growth that will no longer be the case
  • Lawmakers won’t fund total enrollment – they are not required
  • Schools are scrambling to fund resources

Major General Bennie Williams:

  • I am in support of Core Standards
  • ASVAB test (The ASVAB is a multiple-aptitude battery that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.) students are not passing the test
  • 1 out of 5 students nationally do not graduate
  • 1 out of 4 students  nationally cannot pass the ASVAB
  • 1 out 4 students nationally are to overweight to join the military
  • On Fort Brag there is a 50/50 split on post vs. public.  Benchmarks are needed

Colonel Jeffrey Sanborn:

  • The Wested study ( a new study commissioned by the Army Chief of Staff. The study was conducted by research company WestEd. The company published a report about schools surrounding United States large military  installations.)
  • The Wested study is flawed.  The challenge of the study measured school performances but didn’t measure military kids in city schools
  • The study failed to measure high school military students so there is a disparity with high school students
  • The study did tell us that high schools that surround Fort Bragg are challenged
  • The military community is chasing the best schools and are pushing further out in the community
  • Now there are forgotten neighborhoods that are not being reinvested
  • How do we reinvest in older neighborhoods and bring back economic vitality?
  • Shaw Heights is a case in point…it had great momentum
  • Families are moving farther away and there are longer commutes and traffic conjestion
  • The soldiers quality of life is sufferening
  • Currently on post students are fragmented. None of the high school kids go to the same school…it’s not healthy
  • School programs/curriculums need to be portable
  • Portablity is important

Eric Guckian:

  • We gave a 297 million pay raise for teachers
  • 65% of North Carolina kids are not ready proficiently
  • Students do not have access to higher level course work and we need it

Major General (Retired) Cornell Wilson:

  • There is 45 billion in income to North Carolina from the military…we are second to agriculture
  • On BRAC – we have been the beneficiaries
  • Now there is a “shadow BRAC” that is not studied or funded but it does exist and it will draw down forces
  • Base troops will be based on schools and this is called a “soft issue”
  • The real challenge is the new “shadow BRAC”
  • The soft issues are quality of life for the soldiers and education

Dr. Frank Till:

  • We are part of the Interstate Compact
  • 33% of students are military connected
  • Older neighborhoods are not being refurbished
  • Poor children are faceless and generally not the first generation of poverty
  • 60% of kids are unfit

Question and Answer

Q – Are there any legislative changes?

A – (Sanborn) Data is being collected called the “Military Student Identifier.”  Next year it will be mandantory to collect military student information.  This is called the Interstate Compact.

Q – Will future base realignments be based on schools?  How substantial is it or ought to be?

A – (Sanborn) There is a lot of uncertainty but it is a NEW factor from the Chief of Staff.  This is not about BRAC. The analysis is ongoing.  There will be closed installations.  Fort Bragg is not going anywhere and the state stands to gain.  We have a couple of years to focus on education.

A – (Williams) This is a huge issue.  National averages are 20% don’t graduate on time.  Twenty percent are disqualified to join the army.  Twenty three percent have low scores on the military entrance exam and 30% can’t pass the test.

Q – On portability, are there any statistics how students are performing when they transfer elsewhere?

A – (Sanborn) No

Next Steps:  (Chamber quote) State and local government will continue engaging with the Army on these topics and they constantly seek to improve our education management and performance.  Our decision makers will assess today’s situation and describe their ideas for moving forward together with the Army.


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Published by Angie Hedgepeth

Angie Hedgepeth, Government Affairs Director for the Association, attends all the local meetings each month, as well as NAR and NCAR meetings, and keeps members abreast of the multiple issues being addressed in local, state and national government. She prepares reports on the meetings she attends and they are included in the weekly "Government Affairs Update".