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Bush bill helps military students

Published: Sunday, July 13, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, recently applauded the governor for signing a proposal into law that eases the transitions of military students moving in and out of Illinois schools. 

“These families give up so much in order to serve in our military. The least we can do is ensure that school transfers are as easy on their children as possible,” Bush, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, said in a news release.

The new law makes school transfers easier for children of active duty military personnel by ensuring that military children who move to Illinois from other states remain in the same grade. If they were in second grade in another state, Illinois schools must also place them in second grade.

In 2010, Illinois joined the Interstate Compact for Military Children, which now serves 46 states. The compact works to ease the burden on military students and their families, who often move to a new state every few years. In the 45 other compact states, military students enter the same grade level at their new schools, retain previously earned credit and are offered opportunities for extracurricular activities. Illinois’ law had not offered the same assurances until today. 

“Unfortunately, Illinois’ law has not measured up to the laws of other states in the interstate compact,” Bush said. “These changes to our law will now help guarantee that children can move to our state with as little disruption to their education as possible.”

In addition to required grade placement, the new law will also speed up the admissions process to Illinois schools by allowing parents to use unofficial records from the previous school until official records are available. 

It also states that military students shall be awarded the opportunity to transfer into extracurricular activities, such as basketball or volleyball, if they are qualified and space is available.

Illinois is home to 10,000 military students, most of whom have at least one parent on active duty on military bases statewide. These students may transfer schools up to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation. 

Military advocates believe these small changes to the interstate compact language will eliminate many unfair hurdles for military children who transfer into Illinois schools.  

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