West Palm Beach
Being "Red Squadron" doesn't do much for you against Academy Ties except getting both squads to 48 points. You could downgrade to Rookies and equip them with Torpedoes while changing two Academies to Obsidian Squadron. That way they get to see the difference in PS when moving shooting etc.
But I guess keeping it simple in the first game is probably the way to go. It's all about fun anyway :-)
Here is my take on an "escalating" three games list:
1. "Flight School"
Rookie + R2 + Integratetd Astromech x2
Academy Tie x4
--> Everybody being a "Rookie" is thematic in a sense and they can learn the basics of maneuvering and shooting.
2. "Veteran Pilots"
Red Squadron + R2 + Integrated Astromech + Proton Torpedoes x2
Obsidian Squadron x2 ; Black Squadron + VI x2
--> Going with the theme that they are not rookies anymore. The difference in PS focusing on turn order and the impact on positioning, taking actions and attacking. They learn about Elite talents and attacking with secondary weapons.
You could give both TIEs of the same PS to one player or give one of them to everybody.
3. "Named Elites"
Luke + R2 + Integrated Astromech + Proton Torpedoes
Wedge + R2 + Integrated Astromech + Proton Torpedoes
Mauler + Crack Shot
Scourge + Crack Shot
--> You add Pilot abilities while you keep the known upgrades from the last squad (for rebels).
Luke + R2 + Integrated Astromech + Proton Torpedoes + Exp. Handling
Wedge + R2 + Integrated Astromech + Proton Torpedoes + Exp. Handling
Vader + Engine Upgrade + Proton Rockets + X1 + ATC + VI
Turr Phenirr + Royal Guard + Stealth + TC + PTL
This might be a bigger jump for the Imperials in complexity - but you get Vader :-)
This sounds interesting.