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Charter Schools Group Applauds Congressional Action to Stop Discrimination Against Online Charter School Students Interested in Serving in the Armed Forces

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools praised the inclusion of a provision in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will prohibit the Department of Defense (DOD) from unfairly discriminating against students interested in enlisting in the armed forces who have graduated from online and blended learning high schools, some of which are public charter schools. The bill was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives on December 12, 2013 and by the U.S. Senate today. Upon passage, Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance said, “Despite congressional action in 2011 to stop unfair recruitment and enlistment practices, the Department of Defense found a workaround and is now requiring students from online public charter schools, as well as blended learning charter schools, to score higher on the qualification test than their traditional public school counterparts. As long as graduates who wish to enlist meet the same uniform standards and qualifications as other students, they should be given fair consideration, regardless of the type of high school they attended.” The Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA included a provision requiring DOD to treat a student who attends an online high school accredited by the state in the same manner as a graduate of a secondary school for recruitment and enlistment purposes in the Armed Services. In June 2012, however, DOD implemented a new recruitment and enlistment policy requiring online charter high schools, and blended learning charter high school graduates to score 50 or higher on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Students graduating from a traditional public high school are eligible to serve with a score as low as 31 to 36 depending on the branch of service. “Some graduates from online and blended learning charter high schools have been selected—through a rigorous application process—to attend our nation’s military academies and become officers in our armed forces,” continued Rees. “This important amendment recognizes what these academies have already discovered, that online and blended learning charter high schools have graduated high-achieving individuals. If these students choose to enlist, they should be given the same consideration as all other students.” The National Alliance has been working to end this discriminatory policy since 2011 and this past June, Representatives John Kline (R-MN), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and Jared Polis (D-CO) offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 NDAA to require DOD to implement uniform screening, assessment, and testing procedures for all students regardless of the type of state-accredited high school. In November, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) offered an identical amendment in the Senate. About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. www.publiccharters.org.