The Pentagon and Department of Defense Education Activity — the agency that administers schools for military dependents — have announced plans to furlough teachers and classroom aides up to five days the upcoming school year and Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) as many as 11 days, forfeiting valuable class time and learning for the children of our armed forces members.
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Any furloughs of DoDEA school-level faculty and support staff would do serious harm to the quality of education the children of our military members receive. The last thing the men and women of our armed forces should have to worry about while on the front lines protecting our nation is the education of their children.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) on Thursday urged Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to reject any plans to furlough Department of Defense educators, saying the furloughs would be “disruptive to military families, causing children to lose school days and other vital educational services even as their parents are fighting overseas.”
Senator Warner is asking other Senators to join him by signing on to a letter asking Secretary Hagel to ensure these furloughs don’t happen. Click here to find your Senators’ phone numbers and ask them to sign on to Sen. Warner’s letter today!
High school math teacher and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel added his words of warning, stating:
I was deeply disturbed to learn that sequestration could interrupt the education of K-12 students in Department of Defense-run schools in the United States and overseas.
Shortening the school year by even one day could do irreparable harm to tens of thousands of students in DoD-run schools. In addition to classroom instruction, they would lose learning time essential to their preparation for postsecondary education and success in the global economy of the 21st century.
DoD-run schools provide an excellent education — students’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the “nation’s report card,” exceed the national average. During past crises, they stayed open because teachers and education support professionals were designated “critical” or “essential” — for example, the U.S. government shutdown in 1996; discussions of eliminating or curtailing services to reduce U.S. government spending in Congress these last two years; and the threat of a complete nuclear meltdown when a tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima power plant in 2011.
To ensure DoD-run schools remain open in the event of sequestration, I urge you to classify DoDEA school-level personnel as “critical” — the services they provide are indeed critical to the future of our nation. The parents of the children who attend these schools have pledged to protect our nation with their lives, if necessary. They deserve uninterrupted access to great public schools.