Photo courtesy of army.mil.
Thanks to the hard work of activists across the country, and DoD educators across the globe, DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) students will no longer miss school days this year. Since DoDEA students are funded entirely through the Department of Defense budget, they were hit especially hard by across the board sequestration cuts, losing 9% of their total operating budget. Until last week’s action by the Pentagon, this would have meant an entire week of missed classes for students.
Chuck McCarter, President of the Federal Education Association, had to following to say after the announcement:
We did it! Last week, the Pentagon announced that all furlough days for DoDEA educators have been cancelled. This means that DoDEA students will lose absolutely zero days of classroom instruction due to this manufactured budget crisis.
This is a massive win for FEA (Federal Education Association) members, who went to bat on behalf of their students to try to curtail the furlough threat. The Pentagon originally announced plans to furlough civilian employees, including DoDEA faculty and staff, for 22 days. That number was later reduced to 11 days, then to five days for classroom educators (ESPs and other DoDEA positions were still facing 11 days) before this latest announcement. Educators who belong to FEA wrote thousands of letters to Congress, protesting plans to close schools down and the impact it would have on students.
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As we hoped all along, the closer we came to the possibility of schools closing down because of budget cuts, the more heat these decision makers began to feel. At the same time, the Pentagon began reporting in recent weeks it had achieved enough savings elsewhere to trim the number of furlough days for other civilian employees from the planned 11 days down to six.
Losing classroom time at any point is something we can’t afford, but losing it at the start of the school year would have been especially harmful. The cancellation of the remaining furlough days is great news and a great start to the school year!
The members of our armed forces, who put their lives on the line for this country everyday, should never have to worry that their children are being abandoned by the country they have pledged to defend. Reversing what would have been a devastating loss of instruction time for the children of military families is the least we can do to show their parents that we honor and respect their service and commitment to this great nation.