I know this is going to take on the tone of a “not in my backyard” type argument, and while on a purely economic grounds I agree with Senator Coburn as it relates to the cost savings, I want to bring up the intangibles of DoD schools.
My daughter attended on post schools for her elementary and part of her middle school years, up to grade 7. I then retired and she was thrust into the government run, union administered school system. While in middle school in the civilian sector I don’t think she ever turned in so much as one homework assignment. Oh she did them but it seemed really pointless since she already knew the material. She got into a bad habit on not doing the homework or in most cases simply leaving it in her book bag collecting dust. Her reason. She maxed all the tests so what difference did the homework make. You see she was about a year and a half ahead of her civilian counterparts. This created all sorts of discord at the school as teachers really got upset when she told them you already knew the material and implied that maybe a lot of the kids in the class simply weren’t all that smart to start with. A couple of times a year the administration loved her. That would be when it came time for the testing related to determining progress under the NCLB and she would score in the top 5%.
Reason number two. Military children live a lifestyle that is completely foreign to those outside the gates of a military installation. The bonding, and the understanding of what it means to have a parent deployed or dealing with the military life can not be replicated in a civilian school. Very young children need that environment. My daughter became very withdrawn and introverted after we left the friendly confines of the military. No matter how hard she tried to make friends there simply wasn’t that much they had in common and therefore could relate too. Often a child would tell her that they couldn’t be friends because the other childs parents after finding out I was prior military would forbid it, often due to the stereotype perpetuated about how veterans were nothing more then homicidal maniacs with either drug or alcohol problems ready to go on a killing spree at the slightest provocation. (Something I used I’ll admit in more then one discussion with a stupid school administrator when trying to address the problem of bullying. Honestly the fear in their eyes sometimes was priceless.) BTW I also learned to quit fighting with them. The first couple of times I did she was made to pay the price either through in school suspension or in one really grievous incident after getting beat up and I demanded action she was referred to a mental health clinic. Thankfully the counselor spent about 30 minutes and wrote one of the most scathing reports I have read back to the school and the school board condemning them for their actions.
Point number three. Children of military families never, ever, ever, win a dispute with either other students or school administrators and teachers. Their arguments are dismissed out of hand, normally with a flippant comment about how their mommy or daddy is in the military like that is some sort of affliction comparable to MS or cancer.
There was a pretty infamous case a couple of years ago involving a First Sergeant whose kids attended a civilian school which required uniforms. The mother found out that the school rather then looking for the lowest bidder or even opening the process selected a company and forced everybody to buy the clothes from them. She voiced her concerns at a PTA meeting. The school immediately wrote a rebuttal letter about the family in a letter to the editor of the local paper. The whole affair got rather messy with the soldier’s career being threatened and the school administrators threatening and bullying the family in the hopes of shutting them out. The whole debacle played out in the public eye.
So Senator while I can agree with you from a purely dollar and cents point of view, the advantages of an DoD education, regardless of the conditions of the facilities, far outweigh those costs. I would rather see our civilian schools adopt the DoD teaching methods which produce far better results then anything I have seen on the outside. It is ironic that while Dod schools turn out far better educated students in spite of the conditions cited that in the same breath it destroys the arguments used by so many school systems as being the reason they fail. It is just a shame that for those stateside once a child reaches high school they have no choice but to attend a civilian school. I can not see forcing a child to attend a school where at best the attitude they would be treated with would be cool at best and outright hostile in worse cases. Imagine being an 8 year old having to attend a civilian school in the Seattle area where teachers take their students on field trips to block military convoy of supplies. How many more stories do you think there would be of a teacher suspending a student for taking a phone call from his mother in Iraq or making a drawing of his dad in his uniform complete with a weapon.