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Menendez, Tillis, Kaine introduce the bipartisan success for Military Connected Students Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced the bipartisan Success for Military Connected Students Act, legislation to extend the maximum student to teacher ratio directive for Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools around the world.

Included in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by Congress, the maximum teacher to student ratio for grades K-3 were set at 1:18 and approximately 1:24 for grades 3-12.

DoDEA schools are responsible for providing quality educational opportunities and services to military dependents around the globe who might not otherwise have access to a high-quality public education. These schools have a long and proud history of serving military families dating back to World War II. Currently, DoDEA schools have more than 66,000 military children enrolled in 160 schools located in 11 foreign countries, 7 states, and 2 territories. More than 8,000 dedicated educators teach these students. DoDEA schools also provide support and resources to Local Educational Agencies throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families. Numerous studies have shown that maintaining smaller teacher-student ratios ensures quality education for students.

“Providing support, resources, and the best education possible to the children of the selfless men and women that serve in our country’s military is the least we can do to show our appreciation for all they do and sacrifice each day. Military families often travel around the United States and the world, and they deserve the peace of mind that their children are receiving a high-quality education designed to ensure their success,” Menendez said. “Education is critically important, and when the student to teacher ratio is balanced, the decreased workload increases the teachers’ capacity to provide thorough services and care to each individual student.”

The National Education Association (NEA), Federal Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) support this legislation.

“Every day, DoDEA educators have a mission to ensure all military-connected students have the opportunity for an education that inspires their curiosity and enthusiasm for discovery. To meet this goal, engaging students at a high level requires class sizes that enable educators to connect one-on-one with their students,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations at the National Education Association. “On behalf of the 6,000 educators we represent that teach in DoDEA schools, NEA strongly supports the (bill name TBD), which would maintain current student-to-teacher ratios through the 2029-2030 DoDEA academic year. “Year after year, DoDEA educators deliver a world class education to DoDEA students and maintaining current class sizes will continue to provide military-connected students the individualized support they so deserve.”

“DoDEA schools are homes away from home for the children of our military and diplomats, but they’re also some of the best schools in terms of academic achievement, owed in no small part to an emphasis on small class sizes. Educators are the first to tell you that reasonable class sizes allow them to give individualized attention to students, use innovative lessons, and help students develop important social skills. We must preserve what works for military-connected children in DoDEA schools and fight for small classes in all public schools, and this legislation introduced by Senators Menendez, Kaine and Tillis ensuring class sizes stay small helps us do just that,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

Sen. Menendez has long advocated for providing K-12 schools, colleges, and universities with the resources needed to ensure each student receives a high-quality education that will set them up for academic and professional success. Last week, Sen. Menendez introduced the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Week Resolution, which designates the week of September 11 as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week. This resolution highlights the important role these institutions play in educating Latino students, helping them attain their full potential by creating opportunities and increasing access to higher education. The Senator has also long supported providing HSIs and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with the resources they need to support their students.

In August, Sen. Menendez announced a combined total of $21,890,548.00 to universities, local school systems and boards of education, medical centers, and head start centers across the state from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In July, Sen. Menendez joined Sen. Chris Van Hollen in introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act, legislation that would finally ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular, mandatory increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our obligation to America’s children and schools. More than 20 Senators and over 60 House members support this bill. In April, Sen. Menendez introduced bipartisan legislation to help veterans, servicemembers, law enforcement, firefighters, educators, and other public service employees in accessing student loan relief by removing a burdensome provision in federal law that makes it harder to access Public Service Loan Forgiveness benefits.

In 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan, Sen. Menendez helped secure $2.76 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding to assist Pre-K-12 schools across New Jersey to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of their students.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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