“By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder –infinitely prouder – to be a father,” said Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

In only a handful of words, MacArthur captured the honor of serving the nation and the joy and privilege of parenting. But while U.S. service members willingly make steep sacrifices to serve in the Armed Forces, they should not have to forego a parenting imperative and sacrifice the educational future of their children.

That’s the message from Military Families for High Standards, a new nationwide effort working to draw attention to the need for high K-12 education standards in schools around bases and military installations.

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Providing all students with a high quality education has long been a priority of mine. As Governor, I worked hard to improve the education system through investments in our public schools, increasing teacher salaries and working to improve early education. Perhaps one of the most important actions I took as Governor to help military children succeed was being part of the process in New Mexico to adopt the Common Core State Standards. These academic goals in English and math are not only of high quality – they are also shared by more than 40 states, which provide a level of consistency that was not possible before. This also extends to military children overseas because the Department of Defense Education Activity – which administers U.S. military schools abroad – also adopted the Common Core.

New Mexico is home to thousands of service families across four active Army and Air Force bases. Military families may move dozens of times over the span of a career, making military-connected kids particularly vulnerable to standards that are inconsistent from state to state.

When a service member moves, they are forced to uproot their children, too. The school system at the new post should be as challenging as a child’s last school. But too often, the standards are not the same and military children pay the price.

The Common Core provides needed consistency while also raising expectations for all children, including those who are struggling. By raising the bar for students, we are ensuring that every child has the opportunities he or she deserves.

And the new, more sophisticated tests aligned to the Common Core do a better job of measuring student learning and giving teachers the information they need to tailor their teaching to meet the educational needs of individual students in their classrooms.

By bringing together the spouses of active duty and former service members from all branches of the U.S. military, Military Families for High Standards provides a collective voice for these children, as well as the policies that will help them succeed.

The disruption of moving is a fact of life for military families - as are the stresses that come with it. We owe it to these families to do all that we can to ensure that they have a high-quality and consistent education experience that prepares them for success – no matter where they live.


A former governor of New Mexico, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy and founder of the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, Richardson is an adviser to Collaborative for Student Success, a grant-making initiative created of regional and national education foundations.