Lawmakers from both parties are calling for Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper to scale back plans to increase the pupil-teacher ratios and require teachers to put in 24 unpaid hours per academic quarter at stateside and overseas schools for military dependents.
A letter signed by nineteen senators and members of the House stated that the changes have fomented “ongoing turmoil” in Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools.
“Our military families sacrifice the stability and prosperity that their service affords the American people, and current DoDEA polices place needless stress and uncertainty into already chaotic lives,” the letter stated.
The lawmakers slammed the Pentagon’s decision to change student-teacher ratio, which is based on a determination that class sizes are small in some duty stations.
“The children of our service members should not be limited in the quality or availability of classes due to the demands of military service,” they wrote.
The Pentagon justified the extra-hours requirement as a “professional development” opportunity for educators.
“DoDEA teachers have reported to our offices that they have frequently been required to arrive early or stay late with no actual instruction or guidance. [They] already spend an average of 17 hours per week outside the classroom grading papers, lesson planning and coordinating with their colleagues,” the lawmakers wrote. The additional hours would only add to this “burden.”