Right Now

Today, Dr. Coburn has asked Senate leadership for a roll call vote on the following amendment to S. 1867, the Department of Defense Authorization Bill.

Coburn Amendment 1369 - Provide Funding for Students and Local Schools by closing unnecessary Defense Department schools

• DoD operates 64 schools on 16 military installations in the U.S called the Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS). Today 26,000 students are taught by 2,300 teachers who are DoD employees.

• A number of schools were originally justified because the post-World War II military was racially integrated while some of the local schools where military bases were located were still segregated. DDESS was initially established when schools in the South were segregated, however it is no longer clear why the system is still necessary, or why the Defense Department plans to spend $1.2 billion for FY 2011-FY 2015 to rebuild these schools, raising the cost per student from $51,000 in FY 2011 to $81,000 in FY 2015. [1] [3]

Despite generous funding, a recent report by the Center for Public Integrity noted:

“Conditions are so bad [on military-run schools] that some educators at base schools envy the civilian public schools off base, which admittedly have their own challenges. Also, some of the new schools in town make our schools look like a prison,” says David C. Primer, who uses a trailer as a classroom to teach students German at the vaunted Marine headquarters in Quantico, Va., just 30 miles south of the nation‘s capital, in one of the country‘s most affluent suburbs.[2]

• DoD must provide quality educational opportunities for the children of our men and women in uniform serving overseas where English-speaking schools are not available and the overseas schools appear to be meeting that goal. This amendment would not affect any schools outside the United States such as the DDESS schools in Cuba or Puerto Rico.

• This amendment would adopt a recommendation from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform who also recommended closing DDESS and allowing those students to attend local schools just as students of military parents do elsewhere in the country.[3]

• This amendment would allow the Secretary of Defense to transfer up to $12,000 per student per year to any schools affected by this closure. This amendment would allow nearly four years for DOD to close the domestic DDESS.

• This amendment would only affect schools in the DDESS system (except for Cuba and Puerto Rico). The full list of schools and installations can be found here: http://www.am.dodea.edu/ddessasc/districts/communitylocations.html.

[1] “Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools, ?DDESS/DODDS – Cuba History,” http://www.am.dodea.edu/ddessasc/aboutddess/description_history.html, Accessed May 12, 2011.

[2] Lombardi, Kristen, ?Daddy, Why is My School Falling Down?? Newsweek, June 27, 2011, http://www.newsweek.com/2011/06/26/military-children-s-schools-in-disrepair.html.

[3] National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, “The Moment of Truth: Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform,” Dec. 1,2010, http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf