Feb. 24, 2020 | By Brian W. Everstine, Air Force Magazine

The Air Force on Feb. 24 announced it will consider public education support for military children and a state’s policies for accepting professional licenses as part of future basing decisions.

The new policy is aimed at making sure an area is ready to accommodate transferring military families before the service plans to base a new mission or aircraft at a location. This means that if a state wants to bring in an increased Air Force presence, it needs to strive to meet the established criteria.

“The communities where service members live and work impact readiness, retention, and the satisfaction of families,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said in a release. “Future basing decisions made with a consistent framework will ensure optimal conditions for service members and their families.”

Airmen have reported their decision to remain in Active Duty often hinges on the ability of their spouses to sustain their careers and for children to be in a good school, according to the service.

Under the new criteria, the service will evaluate the public education systems on academic performance, school climate, and service offerings. This includes data on graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, suspension rate, availability of free pre-kindergarten, and student-to-teacher ratio, among others.

For licensure, the Air Force will evaluate how a state can accept licenses in accounting, cosmetology, emergency medical service, engineering, law, nursing, physical therapy, psychology, and teaching, among others that may arise. The impact is based on current laws, interstate compacts, military-specific rules, and executive impacts that are in place.

“We know improving schools and changing licensure regulations take time, but efforts to meet the unique needs of military families are vital,” Barrett said in the release. “States that have improved services for military families should be commended and emulated.”

The service will formally incorporate the criteria into the basing process this spring.