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Advocates gather to say thank you

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Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 4:30 am

HARKER HEIGHTS — State and local education advocates came together Tuesday night to celebrate the passing of legislation aimed to benefit military-connected children.

The international Harker Heights-based nonprofit, Military Child Education Coalition, worked with Texas Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, to pass legislation that sets up a system to collect data on military-connected children through the Public Education Information Management System.

The May legislation was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry. Aycock was the primary author of the House version.

“Every legislator in Texas feels connected to the military,” he said. “They realize the stress ... and this is one way legislators have to say we are here.”

Also in attendance were representatives from the primary co-authors of the bill on the Senate side — Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

“We can look at how kids did before the war started and how they do toward the end of it,” said retired Lt. Gen. Pete Taylor, former coalition chairman. “Jimmie Don and all you other folks, thank you so much for getting behind us.”

Mary Keller, president and CEO of the coalition, said the bill was important because understanding where military children are will help serve them better.

“We honestly didn’t know enough information,” she said.

Data also can be used to apply for grants from the U.S. Department of Education. Aycock said the law does not identify individual children, but collects general data to improve a public school’s ability to meet the needs of this group of uniquely experienced students.

“That’s what being a representative is all about — doing something to make lives better,” he said.

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