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        I have been lurking on DailyKos for quite a while, but this is my first attempt at a diary. I decided to write because the so-called sequester and its effects seem to have largely dropped off the radar in recent weeks. While I oppose the sequester in its entirety, I am writing about my personal knowledge of one aspect of these budget cuts which, I believe, has been overlooked by many on both sides of the sequester issue. This issue is the effect of the sequester on the lives and education of military children throughout the world.
    First, I would like to acknowledge my personal bias; as a teacher for the Department of Defense Education Activity (“DODEA”) and the mother of two children attending DODEA schools, I am personally affected by the sequester. For those of you not familiar with DODEA, it is a civilian agency under the Department of Defense (“DOD”) responsible for educating the dependents of military and civilian DOD personnel throughout the world. Thus, if a military service member is stationed in North Carolina, Germany, South Korea, or any of the other military installations the United States maintains both in the U.S. and overseas, his or her children most likely attend a DODEA operated school on the military base where s/he is stationed. Civilian DOD employees working overseas, such as myself, are also eligible to send their children to DODEA schools, although most students are the children of active duty military personnel.
    Along with many other federal agencies, DODEA has been affected by the sequester. These effects include a drastic decrease in funds available for supplies such as copy paper, pencil sharpeners, and instructional materials; a decrease in the number and quality of extracurricular activities offered by the schools; and the furlough of DODEA employees resulting in fewer instructional days.
    While the sequester will certainly affect my bank account, teachers are actually quite fortunate here. While other Department of Defense employees are being furloughed for up to eleven days, DODEA teachers only face five furlough days. This is primarily because teachers cannot be furloughed while on summer break and, once school is back in session, there are not enough weeks left in the fiscal year to furlough teachers for more than five days or one day per week for the first five weeks of school. Nonetheless, other school employees, such as school based administrators, office staff, custodians, and maintenance workers are facing the full eleven furlough days.
    The bigger issue here, however, is the effect of these furloughs on the children. These military children and families are already sacrificing a lot for their loved ones to serve in the U.S. military. They are living far away from home and extended families, often in an unfamiliar culture; are required to move and change schools frequently; and have difficulty maintaining friendships because friends and neighbors are continually moving to new duty stations. Now these children, who are already paying a significant price that they never asked for, are losing five instructional days from their education. While this may not seem like a lot, it is especially significant as it comes at the beginning of the school year when students already have to relearn material and skills lost over the summer break. Moreover, school is the one constant in the lives of many of these children. A considerable number of these military children are attending a new school for the first time, struggling to learn a new routine, and attempting to forge new relationships with teachers and peers. The disruption caused by the furlough of employees and the resulting closure of schools is an additional stressor these children do not deserve.
    At the same time the educational lives of many of these children are being disrupted at school, their families are facing the stress and hardship of reduced income. While the pay of military personnel is not directly affected by the sequester, many of their spouses will be bringing home less money. DODEA schools, for instance, give preference in hiring to the spouses of military personnel. Consequently, many of our teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, office staff, and maintenance workers are the spouses of active duty military personnel. Many non-military parents also work at other civilian positions on base such as the commissary; exchanges; family support centers; day care centers; and Morale, Recreation, and Welfare facilities whose employees are also facing furloughs. When you are living overseas, there are few other options.  
    So, when someone tells you how wonderfully the sequester is working out (yes, my very conservative brother actually said this to me), ask them about the military children. Supporting the troops means more than putting a yellow ribbon magnet on the back of your car. While professing to “support” our troops, many conservatives also support a policy that is hurting the very families they profess to care so much about.

Originally posted to blueteachermom on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 04:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It is good to know this. (11+ / 0-)

    The sequester is really paying off.

    See, politicians screwed up when the sequester actually affected them. That was never supposed to happen.  You saw how fast they fixed that.

    You know not to hold your breath on ANYTHING getting fixed if it doesn't cause an inconvenience to them.

    The sequester is SUPPOSED TO HURT because that is the goal of republican politics. Yes the sequester is 'bipartisan' but with the spinelessness routinely encountered with democrats, bipartisan = republican.

    No politician is doing anything about it now because its no skin off their ass.

    •  True (10+ / 0-)

      Even with regard to defense spending, politicians seem to only care about making sure defense contractors get their cash. They couldn't care less about the young people and families who actually bear the brunt of their never ending wars.

      •  The sequester was the only realistic (0+ / 0-)

        way to cut a bloated military. A huge military only leads to more wars. Why have a super-powerful military if you are not going to use it. There are two sides to the sequester. I think we would all agree that a debt of about $58,000 per person will also inflict punishment on our children and grandchildren.

        I think all children are precious, and they will be punished by any cut in education funding, wether they are from military families or civilian families. In America bombs are given priority over bread.

        War is costly. Peace is priceless!

        by frostbite on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 07:05:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sequester (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lorikeet

          Unfortunately, for a long time the military has been our only "jobs" program in the U.S. While I agree the military is bloated, the sequester cut everything as opposed to targeting the programs that need to be cut most urgently. As for the debt issue, I believe that public debt is much less of an issue in our society than private debt which results in a modern form of involuntary servitude.

    •  Republicans are all (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xxdr zombiexx, Susan from 29

      political sadists and they look at democratic constitutencies as a bunch of masochists.  

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 07:27:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It was bipartisan intention to HURT (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frostbite

      It was supposed to be so hurtful and painful to both sides that it would be unthinkable that it could be allowed to happen, and would force them all to find compromise agreements.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:29:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sequester Is One Of The Most Depressing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Anna M, Vetwife

    things that has happened in politics over the last few decades. Says a lot because there have been many other tragic political stories to compete with it as the years have gone by. Our leaders constructed this preliminary "grand bargain" because the sequester was suppose to have such a devastating effect that it would never happen because it would force our leaders to compromise to the ultimate "grand bargain". To see Washington fecklessly not make a deal as the sequester has been implemented and not see our Democratic leaders put this front and center in an attempt to condemn GOP obstruction that caused it almost seems designed to make people very apathetic about politics who look at this as part of the larger issue of mismanagement of the politics of economic recovery. The data shows that while the private sector is contributing to the economic recovery, government spending austerity worldwide is producing sluggish economic growth and adding full percentage points to unemployment rates. We have the sequester now here, bringing misery, and it is being ignored as a political issue. Support Obama, but his mishandling of the political optics of this is an opportunity lost in trying to achieve a consensus for a progressive agenda.

    All words. But I am heartbroken that people like yourself are seeing the effects of the sequester up close and personal and nobody seeming to give a damn about it.
           

  •  Great first diary. Glad that you decided to write (6+ / 0-)

    it.  

  •  I'm so glad you decided to write. (5+ / 0-)

    We overlap in a couple of areas of interest. I'm a military wife and often bring military issues to DailyKos. I also am interested in education - specifically progressive education models.

    We need more voices that speak for our military families. Please tag your pieces with the word "military" in the future and they will show up in the stream of the Military Community Members of DailyKos. If you're ever interested in writing more and want to publish with your group, let me know!

  •  Of course it does (0+ / 0-)

    ...that way there is the most widespread political pressure to end it.

    NSA gets held harmless.  Few of the boondoggle research, development, and procurement projects got sequestered.  But personnel and other expenses are expendable to this Congress and the military brass that made the budget decisions.

    Politicians of both parties "support the troops" rhetorically but continue to shaft military families.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 09:48:17 AM PDT

  •  Stop ALL of the sequester or NONE of it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, radmul

    The problem with choosing to undo the sequester in  bits and pieces is that only those parts of the budget which can muster Republican Party support will be freed from the sequester. This means that the Republican Party dictates the operations and priorities of the government from a minority position.

    As far as I'm concerned, the sequester should have crippled the airline industry and to hell with the inconvenience of those who can afford to fly.

    "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"--Eleanor Roosevelt

    by KJC MD on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:43:47 AM PDT

    •  I also see your pain. (0+ / 0-)

      The problem is that making an exception for your particular issue means that similar problems will continue to exist throughout other programs. Aid for people with disabilities. Food stamps or school lunches for malnourished children. Infrastructure maintenance and repair. So many other things that government does to promote the general welfare.

      "When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?"--Eleanor Roosevelt

      by KJC MD on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 10:50:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  sequester (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KJC MD

      I am not advocating undoing the sequester in bits and pieces. I am merely trying to educate people about one of the less well known effects of the sequester, one which conservatives ostensibly care about.

  •  I have one question? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, ms in la, jen, velvetdays

    Does the DODEA provide summer school overseas?  Do they provide extended school year to special education students?  By that I mean do teachers actually stay during the summer to provide instruction or do they still have the kids go to the "medically related service providers" and call that extended school year?  How posh are the offices for the DODEA administrators where you are overseas?  

    I worked in urban and rural school districts inthe US with not much money and bought my own supplies and copy paper as well as food for hungry kids.  We did everything we could to be sure kids didn't suffer, OURSELVES.  Sometimes there might be days missed from school, for bad weather.  The kids didn't suffer much for a few missed days. Still, the schools manage to have an extended school year and some run school lunch programs in the park for hungry kids in the summer, because the federal laws require such and so do the states.  My school districts haven't been perfect, but at least they tried.

    The kids will be allright if they miss five days of school for the sequester.  Think of them as snow days.

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:24:10 AM PDT

    •  As the diarist noted, 5 days for military kids (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean

      Especially those overseas, feel a lot different than they do for other kids. A school where the vast majority of kids are military brats has a whole set of issues you don't find elsewhere. Although most schools have a small number of kids moving in and out during the year, DODEA schools have one absolute certainty; every child there is going to transfer out eventually. And it is almost always in the middle of the year.

      I grew up as an Army brat in the Cold War era. We were stationed in Germany. Every month or so I lost a friend or two. Classrooms communities were hard to maintain; there were always new kids, and short timers. Every new kid comes in with a different set of skills and deficits. And, because teachers are often military spouses, the teacher turnover is high.

      So please don't just shrug this off, ljm

      •  I'm not shrugging it off (0+ / 0-)

        I worked in many of those schools overseas.  The military child has differences from kids in the rest of American life, but not that much.  I worked with kids who lived on the streets in an urban school district.  I've worked with kids who had parents who pimped them for money for drugs.  Then there's the never ending problem of incest, that doesn't ever seem to be treated in the same way as other crime.  It didn't get treated as such when I worked over there AT ALL, which was the genesis of my whistleblowing.  I worked through the summer seeing kids for their IEP related services, but was there a teacher in sight for the kids to attend summer school for an extended school year?  No, not a single teacher, they cleared out for the summer.  As for supplies, the teachers all had nice classrooms with supplies, except the special education teachers and related providers.  I'm not a prima donna either.  After working for the government, I went on a project with an NGO working with kids in Armenia after the earthquake.  We had 2 hours of electricity a day and usually no running water.  It was also a country at war with Azerbaijan.  USAID paid for that project.  I wrote a report for them on the miserable living conditions of the orphans I worked with in the orphanage across the street from where I lived.  At least with USAID, they wanted to read my report and didn't "kill" me for it.  I finished out my career working in converted closests, furnace rooms, hallways, libraries and of course full inclusion in the schools with teachers who welcomed special education kids into their classrooms and those of us who were to provide their IEP services.  In the end I had 14 schools and 2 diagnostic clinic days assigned to me.  When I retired, I gave all the supplies and equipment I'd purchased over the years to those who remained to work there after me.  I retired before I was very well paid.  I was at the top of the salary schedule for my education of years of service.  I was making about $40,000 a year at that point.  I am grateful I have my small pension through the state.  Those coming after me won't have that anymore.  Education in the USA has changed and not in a good way.

        Shine like the humblest star.

        by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:42:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Response (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ljm, angelajean, Friend of the court

      Here they have a summer enrichment program for elementary age students, but summer school for older kids entails taking online classes. Parents of students with severe disabilities that would require an extended school year are generally not allowed to be stationed here. However, there are exceptions and, yes, we do offer extended school year services. There are plenty of teachers here throughout the summer.

      I have also worked in public schools stateside and purchased many of my own supplies. The same is true here, but often supplies are hard to come by. Once the beginning of the school year supplies are gone at the exchange, they are gone and you have to buy them on the economy which can be very expensive.

      If the students only miss five days of school this year, I'm am sure they will survive, although it will be more difficult to adjust and also for teachers to get through the curriculum. However, the sequester is a ten year plan and we may lose more days during the next fiscal year. If we lose more days, the accreditation of our schools will be in jeopardy. This will make it difficult for older students, especially those who plan to attend college in the near future.

      •  I'm not trying to be hard on you (0+ / 0-)

        personally.  I was brutalized for over a year and then went through about 10 years fighting my case through the courts.  If there is extended school year (summer school) for some kids, that's so much better than when I was there.  It would make the lawyer who helped me draft our report happy to know that, as she was a military brat and grew up in DODDS schools.  She was the one who wanted the lack of summer school in our report.  I already was providing services through the summer.  I still have friends teaching here in the schools.  The cuts the states have made have been brutal.  They'd be glad to accept 10 years of 5 missing days if it meant their colleagues didn't have to be fired.  As for supplies, it would have been heaven to be able to order online in my day and have to supplies sent to a military post office through the mail.  I used to do it over the phone with my credit card when I needed something from the states, espeically car parts.  Good luck to you working out your problem with the sequester.  I'm sure from your point of view it does really suck.  Between you and me, the kids I worked with over there were my favorite group of kids from my entire career.  Some of the best people I've known anywhere were in the military there.

        Shine like the humblest star.

        by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:25:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  that's right, 5 days the first year, for teachers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ljm

        11 days for other staff, is what it said.  that means 6 in service days, with no students.  Eleven days for kids.  teachers are not legally, to run a school, without support. it is for ten years.

        I am a special ed. OPH instructional assistant, paid through a federal program.  furlough days sounds good to me. spoke with a CA. School Employees Association rep. on Friday June 21 and she said that they had just gotten a list for more layoffs and were busy, "up-dating seniority lists"

    •  administrators (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ljm

      The DODEA administrators in my location do not have posh offices at all. Surprisingly, the disparity in wages between teachers and administrators is actually less than I have encountered elsewhere.

      •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

        When I was there, the administrators at the "head shed" had very nice offices and were paid senior executive type salaries.  Someone must have decided that had to change.  I'm glad they did.  

        Shine like the humblest star.

        by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:27:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  continued (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ljm

          I'm not saying they don't make good money, but our area superintendent makes a fraction of what the superintendent in my former district makes. I came from Florida where teachers are sorely underpaid so our teachers here make quite a bit more. This makes the difference between administrators and teachers a lot smaller.

  •  I'll add a disclaimer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, ms in la, jen

    In 1989, I was a whistleblower and my report that I tried to route through channels was about what special education kids not getting extended school year overseas in DODDS schools and the miserable conditions kids were expected to receive therapy services under their IEPs in the schools.  Special Education teachers had already tried to improve their conditions through their union.  Almost 25 years later, I still have PTSD from what was done to me for the writing and trying to route that report.  You see, special education services was only provided overseas to kids as a result of a court order when some military parents brought suit at S.H.A.P.E. in the early 1980s and the result was special education and related services having to be provided to the kids overseas.  DODDS didn't want to do it.  The military didn't want to do it.  I suspect they still don't.  It's very difficult for a military member to bring a family member with any sort of special needs overseas.  By the way, when I was overseas, I bought a huge amount of my own supplies to use with the kids.  When I got there, we weren't even allowed to use the money we were provided by congress to buy a box of crayons at the PX.

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:32:51 AM PDT

    •  My brother has $10K worth of teaching supplies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ljm, jen, Vetwife

      he purchased himself, waiting to be moved from his old classroom. He's transferring from one district to another.

      "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes

      Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

      by OleHippieChick on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:39:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Special education services (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ljm, decafdyke

      Special education is definitely an issue in DODDS and overseas DDESS schools. As I noted above, the parents of severely disabled students are restricted from many duty stations which can negatively impact their careers.

      •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Friend of the court, decafdyke

        for acknowledging this fact, because it's horribly unfair.  I've known kids who grew up with the guilt of the belief that it was because of them their parent's career was ruined.  It's not right.

        Shine like the humblest star.

        by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 08:17:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Friend of the court, ljm

          I agree that it is not fair. Supposedly it is because services are not available in the community, i.e. psychiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, etc. The whole military infrastructure shares the blame.

          •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)

            That was what the original lawsuit was about in the early 1980s.  The parents had children with learning disabilities and services weren't available at the schools at SHAPE.  They wanted DODDS to pay for their kids to go to a private boarding school where their kids could get the services they need, as a school district in the USA might have to do if services weren't available to meet a special education students needs.  The judge wrote a court order (injunctive relief) for DODDS to do this for these kids.  The result was programs being created for kids with special education needs overseas.  DOD always tried to keep kids with severe disabilities from being sent overseas, although, many came anyway.  As I said, at that time, DODDS didn't want us, they didn't want to comply with the court order and the military installations that housed the specialists required through the law, didn't want us either.  That didn't preclude all the military kids born overseas with problems requiring services as infant/toddlers and pre-K.  The specialists were still needed.  I have very mixed feelings about families being moved all over the world for these reasons.  Perhaps troops should go on shorter unaccomapnied tours as happens in places like Korea and make it the same for everyone so no family faces this type of discrimination.  The US taxpayer can't afford the cost of the military now.  Perhaps we've reached the time to make these major changes.  

            Shine like the humblest star.

            by ljm on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 11:25:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  My brother works for DODEA. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ljm, Friend of the court

    He has described enormous unprofessionalism and waste within the system. If a husband and wife are both teachers, their housing allowance is doubled, letting them sock away thousands upon thousands in taxpayer dough. One principal isn't even an educator, btw. Took an online degree course or two, was hired and banks $150K/yr.
    He describes an Ugly American syndrome where Americans belittle their host country and its inhabitants. Shameful. Hope you don't see much of that, but in one particular Asian location, it's like Lord of the Flies, a private fiefdom, where teachers who strive to excel are shivved because they make the others look bad.

    "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes

    Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

    by OleHippieChick on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 11:33:25 AM PDT

    •  Doesn't sound like much has changed (3+ / 0-)

      Fiefdoms and lord of the flies, like the study found, just the smell of money corrupts.  Then there's the smell of power.

      Shine like the humblest star.

      by ljm on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 12:12:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Waste (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OleHippieChick

      I have no doubt that there is some waste in the system, although I have not encountered married teachers who are both collecting a housing allowance. My family and I live on base, but the couples I know who teach here have one spouse who was hired stateside and the other who was hired locally after their arrival. This precludes them from getting a double housing allowance as "local hires" are not eligible for the allowance. I do, however, know a few double military households who are living off base and get the double housing allowance.

      As for the "Ugly American syndrome", I'm sure some of it occurs, but I have seen much of it either. Moreover, most of the teachers I know try to provide a quality education to their students. I have not encountered the scenario you describe.

  •  Conservatives call it "shared sacrifice"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jen

    ...just don't impact their flight schedule!

  •  Have been there/done that... (0+ / 0-)

    ...completely know importance quality education system is for military dependents overseas for at sometime during their schooling military children will attend US public schools and if their experience with DODEA overseas schools are not at least on par with US that will put them at disadvantage when entering US colleges or US work force in general. We should not be surprised by republicans lack of consistent support of military needs.  For them it's all about politics...when it's to their advantage to support military they can't yell loud enough or raise big enough flags.  Unfortunately the officer corps appears to be influenced less by what is best for the rank-and-file and more interested in listening to right-wing-ding-bat rattle against POTUS Obama, imho.

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 02:25:46 PM PDT

  •  Welcome and good diary (0+ / 0-)

    The sequester is affecting so many people, especially those military folks and veterans.   It is affecting the most vunerable in my opinion.  The vets, military kids, education, seniors, the poor.  

    Sequester....should be the name of a drink..some ice and nothing in it., instead of a way of life.  

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 03:44:41 PM PDT

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