The federal government has assumed responsibility for educating children living on federal property since the 1800s by paying those children’s school tuition. The advent of the Korean War led to a significant increase in military housing. Military installations began building schools on federal properties in the southern states in the early 1950s.
There are several reasons why military children began attending schools on military installations rather than the local public schools, also known as Local Education Activities (LEAs). One significant reason is related to desegregation. Desegregation in the U.S. Military occurred prior to desegregation in public education. To support its own desegregation policies and the type of community these policies fostered, the government established desegregated schools for the children of military personnel.
In addition, state law prohibited the expenditure of tax revenues for the education of children living on federal property. The military decided to build its own schools for the children of military personnel rather than paying for these children to attend local public schools.
At present, all stateside U.S. Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA) schools fall under the responsibility of the Department of Defense Title 10 under the direction of the Secretary of Defense. The overseas schools (or, DoDDS) fall under the responsibility of Title 20, Department of Education (DoDEA; School Boards for Department of Defense Domestic Schools Training Materials, 2012).
Throughout the years, there have been many changes and shifts, as well as attempts to reintegrate children into LEAs. From time to time, the cost of supporting the schools is brought into question. In addition, whenever a military installation closes, its associated school, if any, closes too.
Not all military children attend schools on military installations. Many receive quality educations at their LEAs. Regardless if a military child attends a school on a military installation or an LEA, it is important for helping professionals to know the types of education available to military children, to know how to support the needs of these students, and to know the laws that protect and support the social, emotional, and academic success of military children.
Blaisure, K. R., Saathoff-Wells, T., Pereira, A., MacDermid Wadsworth, S., & Dombro, A. L. (2016). Serving military families (2nd ed.). New York: NY: Routledge.
· Chapter 4, “Children and Youth in Military Families” (pp. 73-97)
Card, N. A., Bosch, L., Casper, D. M., Wiggs, C. B., Hawkins, S. A., Schlomer, G. L., & Borden, L. M. (2011). A meta-analytic review of internalizing, externalizing, and academic adjustment among children of deployed military service members. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(4), 508–520.
Duchac, N.E., Minor, J.S., Spitzer, K & Frye, T. (2016). Applying the Military Success Model to school age children. 4 (3), 211-219. Retrieved from http://acegonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/JMGC-Vol-4-Is-3.pdf
Moore, K.D., Fairchild, A.J., Ng, Z.J., & Wooten, N.R. (2017). Evaluating behavioral health interventions for military-connected youth: A systematic review. Military Medicine, 182, 11-12.
Wilson, E. (2010, September 21). DOD supports military children in public schools. American Forces Press Service. Retrieved from http://archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=60951
U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity. (n.d.). About DoDEA: History. Retrieved from http://www.dodea.edu/aboutDoDEA/history.cfm
U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity – DoDEA Americas. (n.d.). DDESS history. Retrieved from http://www.dodea.edu/Americas/aboutAm/amHistory.cfm
Department of Defense Education Activity. (n.d.) All about DoDEA educational partnership. Retrieved from http://www.dodea.edu/Partnership/about.cfm