U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer today praised the Senate’s passage of her amendment to H.R. 2055, the Fiscal Year 2012 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.
The bipartisan amendment, cosponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to report on the status and improvement plan for all DOD-managed schools classified as ‘poor’ or ‘failing.’
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Senator Boxer said “Military children deserve an environment that enhances their learning experience—not one that detracts from their education or puts them in harm’s way. I am pleased the Senate has approved this bipartisan amendment, which will help ensure that military children have safe, quality schools that put them on a path to a bright and successful future.”
Earlier this week, Senator Boxer, co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, led 11 of her colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter urging Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to address the state of disrepair of many DOD-managed schools for children of military families. More than 86,000 children attend DOD schools across the United States, Europe, and the Pacific region.
While the DOD is required to provide “academic services of a high quality” to the children of our service men and women, a 2009 DOD report found that 76 of the 189 schools assessed, or 40 percent, had facilities that were “failing” and should be considered for replacement. Another 73, or 39 percent, were assessed as “under-maintained.” The seriousness of this issue was recently highlighted in an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity published in Newsweek. The report describes failing infrastructure such as persistent leaks, corrosion, and mold, as well as overcrowding and a reliance on temporary facilities.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Sec. ___ No later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall report to the Congressional Defense Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the status and improvement plan for all DODEA schools with an overall condition rating of Q3 (poor) and Q4 (failing) as identified in the October 2009 Report to Congress on Department of Defense Education Activity’s Military Construction Program.