The Marines aren’t the only military service looking for a few good men and women. So are the Navy, Air Force and Army.
They need enlistees who have a solid academic background, who can think critically, solve problems and work as a team. Unfortunately, more than 20 percent of Florida’s high school graduates do not measure up because they cannot pass the military entrance exams.
This is on top of those excluded for poor physical condition, a criminal record, dropping out of school or other disqualifying reasons.
That literally leaves only a few good men and women qualified to serve their nation. This shortage of eligible applicants is of increasing concern to military leaders. In 2012, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cited quality education as one of America’s greatest national security challenges.
Mission: Readiness, a national security organization comprised of more than 500 retired admirals, generals and other senior leaders, addresses these concerns in a new report that supports Florida’s transition to more rigorous academic standards known as the Florida Standards.
Titled Keeping Our Families and Our Country Strong, the report states: “Today’s military is a cutting-edge, high-tech enterprise. The country will face significant problems if there are not enough men and women who can perform the challenging jobs the military requires.’’
Put another way, smart weapons require smart soldiers.
Mission: Readiness notes that the Florida Standards and aligned assessments “are critical components of the educational experience that prepare young people to meet the demands of the 21st century economy and military.’’
The report also raises another issue, quoting Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno in warning that states with low-performing schools may lose their military bases in future base realignments.
“If they [states] want to keep the military in their communities,’’ said Gen. Odierno, “they’d better start paying attention to the schools that are outside and inside our installations, because as we evaluate and as we make decisions on future force structure, that will be one of the criteria.”
Military installations contribute $70 billion annually to Florida’s economy.
Florida’s public education system is on track toward ensuring all students are equipped to succeed. That bodes well for our students, our state, our economy and our nation’s security.