Tuesday, October 08, 2002

So Typical . . .

Via Education Intelligence Agency

Defense Department Schools Study Wastes Money to Save Money. EIA is devoted to the principle of limited government, especially the federal government. EIA rarely finds itself in agreement with NEA affiliates, especially when the issue concerns reducing the role of the federal government. Nevertheless, EIA finds itself aligned on just such an issue with the Federal Education Association, the NEA affiliate that represents education employees of the Department of Defense (DoD) schools.

For those unfamiliar with the system, the Department of Defense runs schools overseas for the dependents of U.S. military personnel and civilian DoD employees. The department also runs some 58 schools for 32,000 students of military parents in the United States. Congress has mandated a DoD study to determine the fiscal benefits of closing the stateside schools and sending the students to local public schools.

The $1.15 million research contract was awarded to the Donahue Institute, associated with the University of Massachusetts. A second study, at a cost of $450,000, will determine how much it will cost to bring the DoD school facilities into compliance with federal, state and local building regulations for use as public schools by the local district.

As a general rule, the feds should not perform a task better suited to state and local governments. In some Southern states, there might even be a cost benefit to letting local school districts handle the job. What's missing from a such an analysis, however, is the fact that students in DoD schools, especially poor and minority students, significantly outperform their peers. Shouldn't results count for something?

The Federal Education Association and the National Military Family Association are already asking researchers to include measures of quality in their analysis. EIA believes the $1.6 million would be better spent replicating the DoD school environment in the local public schools, instead of the other way around.

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