Should Stateside DoDEA Schools Stay Open?


If you are a parent or teacher on one of the 15 stateside military installations home to Defense Department Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, you could soon be contacted to participate in focus groups for a new study on the school system.

The study, which is being conducted by the RAND Corp., is looking for cost savings within the DoDEA system. If this study is like others done in the past on this subject, such as one in 2003, it could ultimately recommend that DoDEA shutter schools and bus military kids off base. Another option it might give could be transferring operation of the schools on base to the local school districts. That move would leave the schools open but move them out of DoDEA control -- meaning DoDEA teachers and school boards would go away.

Those recommendations were made after the 2003 study which looked at the then 14 bases. But thanks to cost limitations, like the price tag for subsidizing the local school district in return for taking on the students, most of the closures and transfers never happened. In fact of the 10 recommended for some kind of transfer or closure only one base -- Werner Robbins Air Force Base, Ga., -- was ultimately moved.

But the RAND researchers doing the new study say this one is different from past ones thanks to the current military atmosphere. After more than 10 years of war and the reality of sequestration and a future possible round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC), now is the time to take another look, they said.

"We are aware that there have been a number of studies on this issue of the year years and we have the previous studies," said Charles Goldman, a RAND Corp. researcher who is helping lead the study. "One thing I think is important to recognize is that the context has changed ... we're winding down wars overseas and so there are changes that are happening in terms of the military and there might be changes coming in the future in terms of installations. And so it's important to revisit this subject at this point."

You can read more details about the study itself, including comments from DoDEA officials, over at Military.com.

Joyce Raezer, director of the National Military Family Association, told us that ultimately past studies have revealed that parents, teachers and commanders all love DoDEA schools. And since transferring them is costly, keeping them open makes a lot of sense.

Fortunately for parents of children at these schools YOU will be the ones giving input for the study. Researchers plan to pick parents and some students at random and then invite them to participate in in-depth focus groups for the study.

If you're picked what will you tell the researchers? Do you want these schools to stay open? Would you be OK with transferring them to the outside district as long as your child does not have to be bused into the community? Or does busing sound OK?

Get the conversation on this important topic started in the comments -- and let us know what you think.

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