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The Department of Defense Dependents Schools (note: no apostrophe in dependents) has been counted among the twelve largest American school system, and, yet relatively little has been written about the systems, its triumphs, its failures, and the focus of this paper, its unique social environment.
Since the DoDDs system is so diverse and spread in area, this study will focus primarily on a single school, Samurai High School, which may be taken as representative of a single large part of one DoDDs' subsystems, DoDDs Pacific Area Schools.
The study will examine the forces that effect the school environment, suggest some of the inevitable strengths and weakness stemming from those social forces, and end with some subjective overall assessments of the school and, by extension, the DoDDs Pacific Schools as a whole.
The first military schools were a result of General Winfield Scott's attempts to secure an education for his soldiers stationed out on the frontier. The present DoDDs system of 150,000 students around the world, with approximately 25,000 in the Pacific (Walling, 1985, p. 424) stemmed from the U.S. Armed Forces' desire to retain veterans after the conclusion of World War II. With the first rumblings of the Cold War already starting to be heard, American strategic planners wanted permanent bases and forces in the Pacific.
Even in the early fifties, retention of personnel had become a serious issue for the services. Training represented a significant investment, and losing personnel wasted that investment. With the end of the draft in the seventies and the increasingly high-tech focus of the eighties and nineties, the Air Force, which ran the DoDDs Pacific schools, continued to invest rising amounts of money in its training, and, consequently, its need to retain personnel rose also. Even in 1954, Stars and Stripes noted "It takes 48 months, after basic, to make some of our men experts in radar. If they don't reenlist, our money is wasted." (Stars and Stripes, September 13, 1954, quoted in Oshiro, p. 73).
One way that the Armed Forces hoped to retain married personnel was by allowing servicemen to have a normal family life. The base schools allowed families to relocate and wives and children to join husbands. Further, as Americans started to marry foreign nationals of the countries in which they were posted, the base schools guaranteed that such children would grow up as definitively American and avoid creating potential future cultural conflicts in the home of servicemen.
While the education officials might set goals and objectives, it was always clear that the schools had to serve the larger objectives of the Armed Forces, i.e. maintaining national security through the various "missions" of the bases. The schools' tasks in doing this involved improving morale among the military members of the community. In other words, while educational planners might try to make sure that students received a quality education, the most important consideration to military leaders was that military members PERCEIVED their children were receiving a quality education. This is not to suggest that the base schools were not good schools, but it does suggest that keeping good public relations would be a key objective to leaders on any base while school problems might be, in the interest of the base's mission, handled quietly.
There exists a serious lack of analyses written about DoDDs Pacific and DoDDs schools in general. There are a number of factors involved in this that deserve explanation before wading through any of the materials written about DoDDs Pacific. This explanation will also show why DoDDs schools have escaped much of the traditional external criticism that sometimes produces positive change in American schools.
First, in a curious way, the present DoDDs schools are a direct continuation of Scott's military post schools in that they are a closed, isolated system. Scott's troops were in the midst of a wilderness, the Great Lakes, significant distances from their home culture and relatively out of touch. The DoDDs Pacific schools range over a wide area of the Pacific. Distances are so great even within a single country, such as Japan, that all teachers can only be economically assembled once or twice a year. Scott, at first, appointed chaplains, members of the military community as his instructors. In the DoDDs schools, while direct military influence on administration is diminishing, many educators are retired military or dependent spouses, i.e. part of the military community. It's doubtful whether Scott's chaplains had many around to criticize their work in public. DoDDs Pacific, similarly, while often featured in newspapers such as Stars and Stripes and The Fuji Flyer, seldom comes under the kind of serious analytic scrutiny that produces productive change.
There's lack of periodical literature about DoDDs. The main source of background information for this paper, for example, is a doctoral thesis written by Yoshinobu Oshiro, a former military man, teacher, and reserve colonel in the US Air Force. Oshiro's thesis runs a weighty 150 pages, and yet, he has not a single book length source covering the DoDDs system and only eight periodical articles written in the space of 25 years, meaning an average of only a measly single article every third year. This author only found one periodical article written since 1973. In part, this reflects the problems involved with authors of Phi Delta Kappa or similar publications just getting to this distant part of the world and partly the dismaying psychological effect of authors having to sift through piles of government documents to find some of the relevant information.
The bulk of Oshiro's non-documentary source materials consists of articles from periodicals such as The Air Force Times and Stars and Stripes. These organs locally appear, to an uniformed observer, to serve as a kind of substitute for the big city newspaper. Big city newspapers, like the LA Times, with their tradition of muckraking and sensationalism, however, often print articles critical of the schools or simply give information about lawsuits against the schools, which, in turn, generate criticism. The articles in Oshiro's study, in contrast, though occasionally criticizing the DoDDs schools, as might be expected, usually give a positive picture that their readers, airmen and spouses, would wish to see. This is because these papers, like DoDDs schools, serve a morale building function, and it's in the interests of morale for servicemen to believe their children are getting a good education.
The most valuable analyses of the problems of the DoDDs schools remain the Congressional studies cited by Oshiro several times. While Congressmen, with their traditional mix of loyalties and interests, might not seem a very logical source for informative thought, the studies suggest some important changes later put into effect by the DoDDs Pacific school. That some of the problems noted, such as students attending school in 120 degree temporary buildings, seem so incredibly bad, however, suggests that only a very serious problem would likely draw the attention of a Congressional study. After all, the temporary buildings noted above had been in use for twenty-five years before Congress ordered some changes made in housing.
Here is an example of meaningful criticism from an investigation by a United States House Committee in Education and Labor in April of 1966. The Committee commented on the following:1. There is a very serious disparity between the actual administrative and operating procedures of the DOD school network. 2. Many schools are housed in inadequate facilities. There is a serious lack of necessary equipment and supplies. 3. The number of students in most classrooms is exceptionally large, and insufficient numbers of teachers and specialists are employed. The DoDDs schools do not take full advantage of the opportunities for intercultural exchange. 4. There is a serious lack of uniformity in the quality and degree of education offered by the various schools. 5. Schools are ineligible to participate in Federal programs beneficial to many facets of education. 6.There are insufficient funds made available. (U. S. house of Representatives, Select Subcommittee on Education, Committee on Education and Labor, Department of Defense Education of Dependents Overseas, Washington, DC: 91st Congress, 2nd Session, June 1970, 100, quoted in Oshiro, p. 5).
Most of the defects noted above were subsequently corrected, including, most notably, the creation of the Host Nation Program. Congress, however, was far more likely to focus its attention on big money programs for new defense project than its thousands of distant dependents. Congress, then, could only give an erratic voice towards criticizing and improving its distant educational organs.
The DoDDs Pacific schools, then, developed in an atmosphere relatively devoid of study or meaningful criticism by sources outside the system. The armed forces newspapers had more interest in lauding than lambasting its own schools. The American journals existed a long way away from these far-flung schools. Congress, while it could be aroused occasionally by a glaring problem, generally concerned itself with more lucrative matters.
Largely, then, this left the DoDDs schools to fend for themselves and try to decide the best way to educate their charges. This did not mean, however, the schools could simply deteriorate and rot because, in the final analysis, the schools had to answer to their chief consumer: the Armed Forces personnel stationed at their bases. No matter how rosy a picture the local and service papers might paint, if
the military personnel became dissatisfied, they could transfer (PCS) from their region or, worse, from a military standpoint, leave the service altogether. The problem then, for DoDDs Pacific administrators, proved to be keeping the military personnel satisfied with their children's education, and the military personnel often proved to be wise consumers of the educational product.
While the DoDDs Pacific schools might be conceived of as, like Scott's army posts, "lonely outposts," they had to be effective teaching outposts, at a certain level, or else they'd become deserted outposts._
The most valuable analyses of the problems of the DoDDs schools remain the Congressional studies cited.
In a awareness both of the need to keep educational standards high and that no external body was liable to provide much meaningful input, DoDDs Pacific instituted a number of programs designed to improve itself. While, again, these might be termed mere "public relations moves," they also represent a genuine effort on the part of educators not to let their schools deteriorate and fail. Leaders at the top realized that they, lacking outsiders to criticize and move their system forward, must develop inside sources to perform that function themselves.
As part of this attempt to maintain educational quality, DoDDs Pacific has tried to assert its independence from the military by making a number of moves to draw its schools towards a centralized hierarchy, the intention being that the local school would not then become a casualty of low standing on base priority lists and draw strength from a common, centrally derived agenda. With such a far-flung system, it was felt that a strong central leadership could help maintain quality.
On example of this effort at centralization by DoDDs is the issue of a statement, echoing John Dewey, of a system-wide educational philosophy:
"There are three major responsibilities of a public school system...The school, as an institution in a democracy, is concerned with creating opportunities to permit and encourage each person to realize his or her fullest potential...A second responsibility of the school is that of a change agent...Finally, a continuing purpose of the school is that of introducing youths to the roles of adults within our social system." (DS2000.5 1978, p. (V).
A number of system-wide programs are designed to try to put this philosophy into action by maintaining quality. First, and most ancient, among these system-wide processes is accreditation. The DoDDs schools, almost at the moment of their conception, contacted the North Central Association to have that body accredit their schools. The DoDDs schools have a strong record with 98% (Walling, 1985, p. 425) of the schools presently accredited, and it should be noted that of the remaining 3% some just lack the size necessary. The U.S. government dutifully flies the NCA association representatives out to schools in need of review process and proudly notes that no DoDDs school ever lost its accreditation.
Second, the schools have instituted a seven-year process of program review. This process progresses through the various departments in the worldwide system on a rotating basis so that different departments are in a different stage in the process in different years. The actual evaluation, also, features outsiders from different schools flown in to review the program. The process is known as the System-wide Program Evaluation (SPE) and includes 14 steps:Phase I: Develop and Obtain Approval of Evaluation Plan 1. Identify program and components to be evaluated. 2. Identify purposes for evaluation and evaluation questions to include criterion-referenced testing. 3. Identify data collection targets. 4. Develop data collection plan. 5. Develop or select assessment techniques. 6. Identify proposed analysis and reporting requirements. Phase II: Conduct Evaluation 7. Implement assessment program. 8. Compile, analyze, and interpret data. 9. Develop strategies for program improvement based upon assessment interpretation. 10.Identify resources needed to implement program improvement strategies. Phase III: Follow Up Activities 11. Implement program improvement strategies. 12. Monitor program improvement strategies using formative evaluation. 13. Conduct summative evaluation. 14. Plan program directions/improvements (DS 2000.5 1978, p. 75).
The SPE generates such products as: course "scope and sequences;" program guides, described as "system-wide publications designed to use-in planning, implementing, modifying, and evaluating a particular subject area;" learning and time and location charts; and materials review procedures (DS 2000.5, 1978, p. 93).
Such a process yielded the following objectives for "Language Arts 7." This list, notably, includes only about half as many objectives as the list, often criticized as overlong, in use by Los Angeles:
Language Arts 7 .Show tolerance for other points of view. .Show an understanding of listening responsively. .Appreciate the importance of speech in problem solving. .Write in complete sentences. .Spell correctly those words used in written communication. .Use capitalization and punctuation correctly. .Read different types of literature (folk tales, fantasy, mythology, historical novels, mysteries, biographies). .Apply information found in the dictionary and the thesaurus. .Use the media center research facilities. .Use Standard American English in classroom situations. .Demonstrate ability to use proofreading skills prior to rewriting compositions (DSPA Manual 2000.9, 1987, p. 1).
DoDDs has also instituted a system-wide school homework policy in a statement saying "DoDDs strongly supports the philosophy that homework is a necessary adjunct to school life."(2000.8, 1990, p. 1). All these programs, mandated by DoDDs and initiated by DoDDs Pacific are designed to give uniformity as well as quality to its widely scattered schools.
Other DoDDs efforts focus on improving the individual school but are, again, mandated by the central administration. Each school, for example, is required to have its own school improvement plan to be completed in a space of five years. This plan must include the following steps:a. limitations and recommendations b. steps for resolutions c. persons responsible for each step d. a time frame for each step e. evidence of success(DS 2010.1, 1987, p. 1-2)
Another way in which each individual school is encouraged to maintain quality is through its School Advisory Council, known as the "SAC," which has representatives from the parents, staff, and students. Here schools can hear suggestions and complaints and respond. Again, as part of DoDDs Pacific's continued effort at centralizing control, principals are required to send reports of each meeting to their region (DSPR 2000.1, p. 1).
Teachers, as everywhere, are encouraged to continue taking courses and are required to do so as part of their credential renewal. The schools publish lists of stateside summer programs. DoDDs Pacific also offers a rotating in-service program, with speakers from outside the system, as well as offering salary advancement for teachers who complete courses on their own. DoDDs teachers are advised of their "responsibility to demonstrate talent and potential for making an ongoing contribution with DoDDs-Pacific" (DS 2020.1, 1980, p. 1).
Inevitably, these attempts at "self-improvement" have their limitations. The accreditation representatives have to deal with problems of distance, government inspired paperwork, and the unique military environment in their attempt to analyze the DoDDs schools. DoDDs regulations further call for augmentation of visitation teams by administrators (at least 50%) (DS 2010.1, 1987, p. 1_1) although the regulation notes that it is "desirable" to have at least one educator from another region. This leaves the system at least partly in danger of trying to improve and evaluate itself.
Keeping teachers "up to date" has also proven to be a difficult task for DoDDs Pacific. Despite some tuition assistance, courses offered through local university programs are expensive and do not pay for themselves for participants through step increases on the salary scale. Similarly, Stateside courses, unless participants can lodge with relatives and drive to the cites, do not pay for themselves. The economically logical course of action for a teacher, unfortunately for the system, is to take the minimum number of courses required to keep the credential. System-wide "in-services" cost the system a fair amount of money because speakers must be flown in and are, hence, relatively infrequent.
One notably forward-thinking feature of DoDDs Pacific is the School Advisory Councils. The SACs continue the tradition of the local military's involvement and interest in children's education, albeit in a more democratic form. Similarly, constructed councils were introduced in Los Angeles in 1990, with much fanfare, but only after a bitter strike in which they were a key issue. Other big city school districts were only thinking about following LAUSD's lead when DoDDs Pacific had operated such institutions for years (Walling, 1985, p. 425).
Finally, despite all efforts at centralization, the local base environment can have a significant positive or negative effect on the school. Distances in the Pacific are great, and, as will be explored in the following chapter, social pressures can have as significant or more significant effect on a given school than a government program designed and mandated hundreds of miles away.
The resulting effects of these problems and programs is to keep DoDDs teachers, and the system as a whole, a little "behind" comparably sized Stateside school districts. In the last year, for example, this author, only watched one speaker of any note, Harry Wong, and Wong had been in his biggest demand as a speaker back when he won California Teacher of the Year in the mid_1980s. Also, the key in-service of the year was about "cooperative learning" which had been a "hot topic" back in about 1985 and was regarded as a "given" in Los Angeles by 1988. The positive effect of this time lag is that it may spare DoDDs Pacific a lot of the "fads" that blaze in and out in the various big-city school districts. The negative effect is that educational innovation is likely to cross the Pacific only a few years later.
DoDDs Pacific then have made efforts at keeping their schools up to date through self-analysis, the accreditation processes, in-services, school improvement, and DoDDs mandated program reviews, but problems of logistics and distances can limit their achievements.
DoDDs schools, while tied together with one another through the influences above, also function as part of individual communities, those bases that Yoshinobu Oshiro calls "lonely islands of America." (Oshiro, p. 3). The composite picture that emerges from the information gathered is that of a small, factory town influenced both by the tightness of its social community and the importance of its factory, i.e. the local military base.
To understand this environment, it's perhaps most helpful to view a single school as representative of the group. This paper is examining Samurai High School as the school with which the author, a Samurai High School teacher, is most familiar. Education began at Samurai back in 1947 (Oshiro, p. 64), and the high school began functioning back in 1971.
In an attempt to gain some insight into the Samurai environment, three people were interviewed: Dr. Richard Oldster, District Superintendent for Japan, whose office happens to be on this base, MS. June April, a Samurai High School assistant principal for several years, and Mr. Chauncey Gardiner, a teacher at Samurai since it began functioning as a high school.
Mr. Oldster seemed very positive about the DoDDs Pacific school, the base environments as a whole, and Samurai High School in particular. He emphasized the system's achievements and seemed very proud of the schools and their personnel. Mr. Oldster stressed that the school represented, despite the diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, a relatively "homogeneous population" (for all indirect and direct quotes of Mr. Oldster see Addendum I, p. 35) with a "select group" of adults, Air Force personnel and dependents, as parents.
Oldster dwelled on the positive environment influencing DoDDs Pacific students. He considered it very important that, unlike people in the other ten largest school districts in America, every child in the DoDDs system has a least one working parent. More students than in the States, also, have one parent at home, so they are relatively more protected from the process he termed "family disintegration," harming American students. In many ways, he considered the average DoDDs Pacific base as more similar to a "middle class neighborhood" than to a big city.
Mr. Oldster considered the students' success a natural product of the positive environment created by the base and school. He emphasized that 1/4 of the schools' teachers were dependent spouses, bringing with them a wealth of experience and an understanding of military life they could pass on to their students. Also the schools had a much larger number of specialists, such as those in reading, music, ESL, than comparably sized Stateside schools, so that individual student difficulties could be more easily assessed and overcome. Finally, he considered the teaching staffs to be good.
As a final point Mr. Oldster hinted at a certain necessary toughness, bred by the system, that would see most DoDDs kids through where others might fail. The moves around the world teach DoDDs students to make new friends and how to cope with new environments. While Stateside kids could always, if they failed, go back to their old neighborhood and school, DoDDs students know they have to rely on their own resources because the bases they grew up on might close or, if still extant, would have totally different personnel. In the end, then, DoDDs students knew they would have to move on in life and succeed because, in a sense, they know "there's no going back."
In the light of these observations, he expressed no surprise that DoDDs students would consistently score well on the ACT or SAT, despite having 48% of its students take the test as compared to 33% nationally (Walling, 1985, p., 426). Overall, Mr. Oldster seem positive and proud of the DoDDs system and its personnel.
MS. April, has functioned as an assistant principal at Samurai High School for 16 years. From my own conversations with her in the past, this author gathered that she has dealt with some less than exemplary parents and students, so her, again, positive assessment of the DoDDs experience is not given lightly.
Like Mr. Oldster, Ms. April emphasized that the children's home environment featured at least one working parent and often a complete set, not the pattern in the United States. (For all references to this interview, see text in Addendum. II , p. 37). She added that there are now, on base, more single parents or families with both parents working, sometimes detrimentally effecting the child.
Ms. April, like Mr. Oldster, felt the student body's experiences built a certain positive "independence." She cited 7th graders holding jobs and traveling to Tokyo by themselves as an example. Some of the rebelliousness of students she also attributed to the base environment. Since, in students' subconscious minds, both parents and the school represented a single common force, all allied to the military, rebellion against the school could substitute for rebellion against the parents.
Ms. April compared the base to a "fishbowl" in which "everyone knows or attempts to know everyone else's business." She suggested that this, while perhaps limiting personal freedom, also put pressure on students and adults to be on their best behavior more than would be the case in the United States. As an example of this, she explained how closely the base authorities worked with the school in the case of a discipline problem. In a small town, the deviant child or adult could be stigmatized, in a big city the deviant would find a like group to conspire with him or her; in a military community, such a person would be "PSCed," sent to another base.
While MS. April lauded the parents of the "best kids" and the activities of the SAC, she hinted at some problems that are peculiar to a military community. On the SAC, for example, despite open elections, all members are officers. It seems that non-officers defer to officers as superiors and do not run. No SAC members, moreover, represent the Asian ethnic group that constitutes about 25% of the total population. In, in a sense, then, that body is not representative.
She also commented on how the base could adversely affect student life by moving kids around in mid-year; she wished aloud that all PSCing could take place during the summer. Such a move would naturally serve the interests of the school, but would force some adjustments from the military establishment. As an example of the kind of problems with military personnel moves, this author had a student who transferred out, went to Guam, and then transferred back again five weeks later. To a parent, this might not seem significant, but the child in question came back to find his girlfriend going out with his best friend and himself almost a "forgotten man." It took several weeks for the student to re-establish himself socially and academically.
MS. April also noted the military officers sometimes try to use their rank to influence school decisions. She noted she once had a child who said: "I don't have to do any work because I'm the general's son." When the General came in for a class visit, she pointedly referred to him, not as "The General," but as "Tommy's father," and the father responded as a father. The potential problems can be serious, especially when the teacher is a dependent whose spouse works with a child's parent.
While Ms. April's opinion was positive, the interview does show that the military environment can sometimes detrimentally effect the school environment.
Mr.Garner, a long-time DoDDs teacher, generally confirmed most of the remarks made by the administrators. While he did not consider the DoDDs schools perfect, he did think them on a par with, if not superior, to comparable schools in the United States. Mr. Garner noted as one of the school's significant changes the abandonment and closing off of the "open school" forum area in the main building. None of the teachers on the original school group had much interest in an "open school" environment, but again this was a decision made outside the school by a central authority distant from the cite.
Mr. Garner also wished that the school could have a more consistent discipline policy, but this is likely a common wish at any school.(For all references to the interview with Mr. Garner, see text in Addendum III, p. 39).
One of Mr. Garner's fondest memories concerned teaching a course in Black literature. He said that teaching the class was an "insightful experience" for himself and the students. Samurai's population is about 40% black, but that Mr. Garner, a white former resident of Oklahoma with a Southern accent could teach the class and be accepted shows, in part, why he calls DoDDs students "more sophisticated" than their Stateside counterparts. By "sophisticated" he refers to the fact that students of all ethnicities, like their parents, tend to mix to accept one another more easily than is the case in the Stateside schools.
The composite picture of the school then is one much like a small company town. Everyone knows one another. Most people work for the same employer, in this case the Air Force. The difference is, however, that in a technical sense the "factory" on a military base, indirectly, owns the school as well. The schools have been made more independent by establishing a hierarchy, ultimately reaching to the Pentagon, outside the bases and by giving schools budgets outside the grasp of base commanders, but the fact remains that the school and community are intimately connected. They share relationships, a general outlook on life that might be characterized as "middle class," and they expect certain standards of behavior. Those who cannot cope, either in school or community, can be exiled away, maintaining the school's solidarity.
Although education isn't the only value or even the highest ranking value of this community, it is an important value. Ultimately, it breeds a group of students who do above average on national tests and, in most ways, perpetuate the values of their parents: love for their country, independence, a sense of family, and a sense of obligation.
The previous sections of the paper have stressed the kinds of forces molding students in the DoDDs system, the home environment, the military base, and the DoDDs system. In this section, their feelings about the effectiveness of this system will be explored by examining the results of an attitudinal survey administered to forty self-selected seventh through twelfth graders. (The original survey is included in section K, p. 33).
Having students simply say how they feel about their system would be irrelevant as it would give no standard for comparison. Instead the survey given to student constantly asks for a comparison of students' feelings about Samurai High School and that of a Stateside school the students have attended. The seventh through twelve grade students surveyed were informed their survey would have no effect on their grades. It was also emphasized that either positive or negative opinions about Samurai could furnish this author with "something to write about," so the inevitable "study effects" should cancel one another. On the other hand, since the survey had to be voluntary, probably those with violent feelings one way or another were likely to complete the survey. As a means of trying to heighten student attentiveness to the questions, positive and negative statements about Samurai were alternated with possible scores accepted between two extremes (_5 to +5) meant to show the depth of feeling.
The results below are categorized by subject area. The numbers have been averaged and all results re-tabulated to yield a positive number by changing those negative statements strongly disagreed with, i.e. double negatives, into positives. The range of responses has been noted.
5 3 0 -3 -5 strongly agree agree indifferent disagree really disagree
11.Being in Japan is not the only thing I dislike about my school.
Response: .94 Range: 5 to -5
20.If I could somehow teleport this school to my home state and put it side by side with my stateside school, I would still not attend the DoDD's school.
Response: 2.44 Range: 5 to -5
1. DoDDs neighborhoods are safer than those stateside.
Response: 2.47 Range: 5 to -5
7. The base I'm on gives me fewer things to do than I'd have in the States.
Response: 4.23 Range: 5 to -3
10.People on a military base are less interested in a child's education than those around other schools.
Response: 2.20 Range: 5 to -3
13.My experience has been that people on a military base are less racist than those in my hometown.
Response: 1.18 Range: 5 to -3
9. I think that DoDDs schools are not run well and have poor discipline.
Response: 2.64 Range: 5 to -3
12.We have worse materials and buildings here in my DoDDs school.
Response: .85 Range: 5 to -5
14.The best principal or assistant was not at a DoDDs school.
Response: 1.94 Range: 5 to -5
19.The kids with real emotional and behavioral problems get more help on the base than they would in the States.
Response: .58 Range: 5 to -5
17.There are less activities at my DoDDs school than at my school in the States.
Response: 2.88 Range: 5 to -3
2. DoDDs school staff don't help me as much with my school work as those in the States.
Response: .87 Range: 5 to -5
3. I'm less likely to count on DoDDs school personnel for help with my personal problems.
Response: .44 Range: 5 to -5
5. DoDDs teachers have lower expectation than those in the States.
Response: 1.05 Range: 5 to -5
6. My favorite teacher worked (works) for a Stateside school.
Response: 1.99 Range: 5 to -5
4. DoDDs school students are smarter than those in the States.
Response: 1.66 Range: 5 to -5
8. I'm less involved in school activities here than I would be in the States.
Response: .91 Range: 5 to -5
15.I find it harder to make and keep friends at my DoDDs school.
Response: .75 Range: 5 to -5
16.My parents are less involved at my DoDDs school.
Response: 1.63 Range: 5 to -5
18.I did my homework more before I came to this base.
Response: 1.75 Range: 5 to -5
The results indicate more and less than the numbers would indicate. First, on almost every question student responses ran the full range from violently agreeing to violently disagreeing and most scores were at the extremes. This shows how diverse students are and how varied their educational experiences before starting with DoDDs. Any results below 1.0 can probably be safely discounted as any indicator.
The most overwhelming conclusion from the surveys, however, is that students feel dissatisfied. They feel that the DoDDs schools are poorly run and have poor discipline (2.64), they feel their were better administrators elsewhere (1.94). Further their favorite teachers are not with DoDDs (1.99). Their most overwhelming complaint, though, is that the school does not give them enough activities, and, worse, neither does the base (4.23). Even if the school were in the States, students would rather attend another school (2.44).
The base is not seen as a particularly ripe environment for education. Students believe that military base personnel are less interested (2.20) in their education. As a corollary, students report their own parents are less involved (1.63). They themselves claim to be doing less homework (1.75). The base is rated negatively, despite being considered a safer place to live (2.47) and less racist (1.18).
It would seem, in the light of this information, that the DoDDs schools are failing terribly. Two mitigating factors, however, main explain the seemingly negative results. First, Samurai is a high school that includes junior high students (7_8 graders). Despite a long list of student activities, junior high kids can only participate in a few. Correspondingly, the results seem to express this frustration that many things are going on, but they are not allowed to participate. Seventh and eighth graders constituted half the survey as they do half the Samurai population.
Another consideration, and perhaps the most important one, is the degree of resentment felt by Samurai students towards their parents and, by association, Samurai High School. When parents make the decision to come to Japan it its to benefit their career, and while they may tell their children what an enriching experience the move will be, students only see their friends, home, and familiar life fading. These feelings are reflected in the scores against the base as a learning environment and the perception that their parents are "less involved." The survey, then, gave those students a chance to express their homesickness and disgust, not just with their school, but with this "little factory truth" into which they'd been unwillingly thrust by their parents. Administrators might laud the independence the students develop and the abilities to make all new friends, but the surveys show something of the pain inflicted by the process.
The survey then, shows significant student dissatisfaction. It also shows that no matter how well constructed an environment for learning might be, students do not have to like it, and will express their dislike at any opportunity. Whether this means the school program is in need of significant revision is open to question but certainly deserves further study and analysis.
The survey then, shows significant student dissatisfaction. It also shows that no matter how well constructed an environment for learning might be, students do not have to like it, and will express their dislike at any opportunity. Whether this means the Ç
From the foregoing information, then some conclusions may be drawn. First, the DoDDs system, and DoDDs Pacific in particular is a relatively closed system, free to work out its own identity and educational goals. The traditional voices of outside criticism, lawsuits, the newspapers, and magazines, present in the Pacific are more like to applaud then criticize the DoDDs schools. The scholarly journals have problems of distance and attaining information from the government leviathan.
Second, the DoDDs system managers have, in an attempt to keep the educational environment healthy and productive, tried to solicit internal and external analysis of its teachers and processes. The NCA functions to accredit the schools. The system itself is on a perpetual seven-year rotational pattern of self-improvement, and each school must create its own school improvement plan. Each school also has an advisory council of its own. Individual teachers are also encouraged to continue their education, and an attempt is made to help them in this activity. DoDDs Pacific's peculiar position in the world sometimes hinders these efforts, and while DoDDs may suffer some losses from not being in the American educational mainstream, it also benefits from being able to avoid some its fadism.
Third, the individual DoDDs school exists in an environment not unlike a small company town, and this has its advantages and disadvantages. Generally, DoDDs parents can supply a healthy family environment and the base a richer social environment that any of comparably-sized districts in the United States. On the other hand, since the community has so many ties between its members, and these often take precedence over educational ones, education can be adversely effected. From the point of view of passing on its cultural values of equality, patriotism, and a belief in hard work, the military base school is quite successful but at the cost of some independence and some loss of freedom of action just as living as living in a small company town might do to its members.
Fourth, the DoDDs schools breed their own kind of students. These students are more sophisticated, able to deal with loss of friends and familiar places, than are their Stateside opposite numbers. They know, or soon know, that they "can't go home again" and most of them react by succeeding. The cost, however, may be a certain resentment towards their parents, their unwillingly adopted country, and the agent they most often see: the school.
Finally, all the above conclusions suggest courses of action. DoDDs should take more effort to have its activities written about in scholarly periodicals. In its efforts at self-improvement, more steps should be taken to keep the schools in touch with the mainland by flying teachers in both directions or starting more program to exchange with the host countries to keep fresh ideas coming into the system. Most important, more study of student dissatisfaction should be undertaken to try to ease some of the burdens of becoming an "independent DoDD student."
General Scott's dependents have come a long way, in distance and in time. They have a long way yet to learn.
This interview was conducted with Mr. Richard Oldster, Director of DoDDs Pacific on May 28, 1991.
Mr. Fruit: How does DoDDs or DoDDs Pacific handle the diverse population attending its schools.
Mr. Oldster: Compared a stateside school we have a relatively homogeneous population. Also have a high number of specialists on our staff, 1/3. Now I know that includes such areas as art and music, but it also includes TAG, ESL, and other programs to help with pupils with special needs.
Mr. Fruit: You say DoDDs student population is relatively homogeneous.
Mr. Oldster: We look at our community. We don't have the extremes of wealth. We don't have the poor and the homeless.
Mr. Fruit: Well, I think stateside they'd be more or less segregated by neighborhood if not by school district.
Mr. Oldster: Well and then we don't have a lot of the problems caused by family, um, disintegration. We do have our single parents, but they are only 12% of the population, and the working second parent is only 23%. That's far less than stateside. The short answer to your question, though, is through specialists we deal with our differences. You don't see it so much here, but at Naval bases such as Yokosoka they have a very high ESL population.
Mr. Fruit: What about money. I've just read recently that DoDDs spends like $3,000 per pupil versus $2,000 per California schools.
Mr. Oldster: Well, we charged outsiders who want to use our schools $6400 per pupil. That figure is arrived at by totaling the costs for buildings, which we don't have to pay here in Japan, construction, salaries, LQAs for teachers, PSC costs, etc. and dividing them by the total student population. About 80% of our costs, incidentally, are for staff.
Mr. Fruit: Well obviously, a stateside school system wouldn't have to handle some of those expenses, but 80% for staff still seems impressive when I know LA schools pay only about 60%. What are some special problems of our students here...I immediately think of moving.
Mr. Oldster: You know, statistics show the average family in the States moves every five years.
Mr. Fruit: I didn't know that, but it seems a bit different for our students because they know they will be moving. They expect to eventually lose their friends. I read part of an article in which they say that this effect may tend to make it harder for military dependents to get close to others.
Mr. Oldster: I think the hardest move is for kids coming from the States to overseas. Those who've been moving around overseas all their lives are usually adjusted to this.
Mr. Fruit: What about the kids going back to the states, particularly those who've never been there, say to go to college.
Mr. Oldster: Well, their parents take them to the school. You know, they don't just send them off. I don't think there have been enough follow up studies to this.
Mr. Fruit: Why do you think so many of our kids do so well on the ACT, SAT, and go to college?
Mr. Oldster: Well, part of it is the base environment itself. We don't have the highs and lows of society. We have a few officers, but everyone here is basically working and functioning at some substantial level of competence. I believe, and I'm not so sure this is true in Germany, that military are really a "select" group.
Mr. Fruit: So you're saying that, in a sense, the military base is a kind of "middle class" neighborhood?
Mr. Oldster: Yes, and it's only natural kids from that background should attend college. Then there's our teachers. We have a good teaching staff. It used to be 1/3, but it has dropped to 1/4 of our staff are dependents of the military. They've traveled, they've worked many places with different cultures, and they can work well in this environment and help kids that may be having trouble.
Mr. Fruit: I notice we have kids here that are, say, half Korean and half black, half Filipino and half white. I wonder sometimes, how they will fit into the more segregated society in the states.
Mr. Oldster: Those who've been here less than four years don't usually have much problem. Those who've been here longer could have a problem, but then, again, it depends on the individual.
Mr. Fruit: Looking back over what you've said, I think I'm understanding that you're saying our kids have a certain independence.
Mr. Oldster: Well, Mr. Fruit, the high school you went to is still standing, right, and you can go back and visit.
Mr. Fruit: Yes, that's true.
Mr. Oldster: Well, 5 out of 8 military base high schools in Japan are closed; eventually they will all close. The personnel will be shifted.
Mr. Fruit: So what you're saying is our kids are survivors.
Mr. Oldster: Yes, they have to be. All along, they know there's no going back.
Mr. Fruit: Well, thank_you for your time.
Assistant Principal, Samurai High School, May 30, 1991
Mr. Fruit: How did you first become involved with DoDDs?
MS. April: I quit college for one year and worked for United as a stewardess. When I went back to college, I heard from my advisor about the DoDDs schools. I've been with the DoDD program 25 years, 16 years as an administrator.
Mr. Fruit: DoDDs students seem to come from a variety of backgrounds. Does this, in your opinion, make our schools any different from those, say, of a similarly sized school in the states?
MS. April: Yes, it is different. We're one of the ten largest school districts, and yet we're the only one in which at least one parent is getting a paycheck each week.
Mr. Fruit: Do you feel the diversity of students causes discipline problems?
MS. April: Earlier we had fewer single parents and families with both parents working, and that, I think, is better for discipline. If kids get in trouble, though, we are in coordination with the officials. Sad to say, if a child's problem is serious enough, the child is PCSed.
Mr. Fruit: In theory DoDDs is supposed to treat everyone equally and give everyone a fair shot. How does Samurai cope with, say, eighth graders that reading on the second grade and twelfth grade levels.
MS. April: We have reading specialists and Comp. Ed. for those with difficulties. Also those reading scores reflect a theoretical capability, not necessarily ability, to read.
Mr. Fruit: What has been one memorable experience in your career with working DoDDs students that stands out immediately in your mind?
MS. April: I had a boy named Tom Ngo, a Chinese Filipino. He was promoted ahead several grades, and later, when he received a presidential award scholarship, I was invited to the White House to attend the ceremony. He was only 15 at the time. He later went first to a small, Dominican College and subsequently to Oxford. All around he was the neatest kid..
Mr. Fruit: How would you say your experiences with DoDDs, and especially Samurai High, have effected your views on education?
MS. April: I see us as going towards a more traditional kind of education with less electives and choices. Kids sometimes don't want to take advantage of their choices and just want to leave school early. I think they ought to take this chance to explore their options and try things, or, if they plan to graduate early, get into the CWE program, and explore different kinds of options..
Mr. Fruit: What are some special factors that any outsider ought to know about our students?
MS. April: 1)Dodds kids are extremely independent. We have seventh graders who can go to Tokyo by themselves, and they have chances to be on their own. 2)Also, basically, the sponsors are geared to a military community. Kids sometimes rebel against this authority, with their haircuts, actions, but it's a usually just a phase, often a healthy one.
Mr. Fruit: How would you characterize your relationships with parents?
MS. April: The parents who regularly come to school appear to be extremely positive or extremely negative. The parents here are, after all, a product of the sixties with its values on saying your opinion, speaking up for yourself, etc. Thus some conferences can be difficult to handle. Living on the base is like living in a fishbowl: Everyone knows or attempts to know everyone else's business.
Mr. Fruit: So it's in many ways like a small town.
MS. April: Exactly. Sometimes parents try to use their rank to influence the system. I once had a child who'd said: "I don't have to do any work because I'm the general's son." When the General came in for a class visit, I referred to him not as "General," but as "Tommy's father." When he came back the next day, he was mad because his dad made him do all the work he'd been missing.
Mr. Fruit: Do you see any ways in which the system could be improved to better meet the needs of the students?
MS. April: I'd like to see more parents involved in SAC that represent our population. We need, for example, single parents and those of Asian students on the SAC. I'd like to see more parents involved in general, even if it's only attending athletic events. In terms of families, I think more should be done to regularize student life. All PSCing, for example, should be in the summer. Also, more parents should schedule medical appointments after school. Parents should also consider carefully before taking their kids out for a ten-day break. Also the community and base should be more involved together. Why not, for example, have homecoming the same night as a similar function for base alumni of the base colleges, Troy State, Oklahoma, etc.? The community and schools could do more things together.
Mr. Fruit: Thank you very much for your time.
MS. April: You're welcome.
Samurai High School Veteran English Teacher, June 3, 1991
Mr. Fruit: Where and when did you get involved with the DoDDs system? How many years have you been with Samurai?
Mr. Garner: I was involved with teaching teachers back in the University of Oklahoma. In the 1968_1969 year I decided to go back to teaching. I've been with Samurai since 1972 when the high school began.
Mr. Fruit: What are, in your opinion, some special attributes of Samurai High School Students?
Mr. Garner: Some attributes is that they are more mixed, racially and socially, than a comparable group of kids in the States. Compared to the Stateside kids, they're also a bit more sophisticated.
Mr. Fruit: What are some of the important changes that you've seen in the school during your years here?
Mr. Garner: We dropped the modular system. That was where kids went to classes twice a week for three hours instead of on a daily basis. We also abandoned the "open classroom" idea. They'd build the school main building like that without really letting teachers understand the system.
Mr. Fruit: Do you feel the school is meeting the needs of its students?
Mr. Garner: Generally the school is but not totally. It's doing about as well as Stateside school. Many schools Stateside are having to cut programs.
Mr. Fruit: What is one important experience or student that you remember from your years here?
Mr. Garner: Being able to teach ethnic literature, especially myself. That helped my students and myself gain insights. I also had good experiences teaching creative writing.
Mr. Fruit: What are some ways you feel that the school environment could be improved?
Mr. Garner: First we could use air conditioning. Also the school could use more consistency in discipline. We could also use paraprofessionals.
Mr. Fruit: Would you tell a young teacher (younger than myself) to get involved in the DoDDs system? Why or why not?
Mr. Garner: Yes, I would tell him or her to get involved. It's a good opportunity to see other cultures. Also the system has better pay and benefits than most systems. Also, rehire is not at the whim of the school board, as it is in many small school systems: incompetence must be proven.
Mr. Fruit: Well Thank you for your time.
Mr. Garner: You're welcome.
Introduction: The following is survey designed to have students compare the schools they've attended in DoDDs Pacific with those they've attended in the States. Note that this survey is completely voluntary and your name will not appear on it. Also, Mr. Fruit is looking for your honest opinion, and negative as well as positive can furnish information worth writing about. Completing the survey will not effect your grade in any way.
Instructions: For each of the following questions respond from 5 to _5. Note that the questions expressing positive and negative opinions about DoDDs Pacific schools are purposely scrambled, so you must READ ALL QUESTIONS CAREFULLY.
For each question, your numerical response should show how much you agree or disagree with the statement as follows. On a separate sheet of paper, simply number 1_20 and record your numbers.
DoDDs school here refers to any elementary, high school, or middle school you attended. For the purposes of the survey, ignore any non-DoDDs Pacific schools (i.e. Germany, England) as the comparison is supposed to between DoDDs Pacific schools and Stateside schools.
5 3 0 -3 -5 strongly agree agree indifferent disagree really disagree1. DoDDs neighborhoods are safer than those stateside. 2. DoDDs school staff don't help me as much with my school work as those in the States. 3. I'm less likely to count on DoDDs school personnel for help with my personal problems. 4. DoDDs school students are smarter than those in the States. 5. DoDDs teachers have lower expectation than those in the States. 6. My favorite teacher worked (works) for a Stateside school. 7. The base I'm on gives me more things to do than I'd have in the States. 8. I'm less involved in school activities here than I would be in the States. 9. I think that DoDDs schools are run well and have good discipline. 10.People on a military base are more interested in a child's education than those around other schools. 11.The only thing I don't like about my DoDDs school is that I have to be in Japan to attend it. 12.We have worse materials and buildings here in my DoDDs school. 13.My experience has been that people on a military base are more racist than those in my hometown. 14.The best principal or assistant was not at a DoDDs school. 15.I find it harder to make and keep friends at my DoDDs school. 16.My parents are more involved at my DoDDs school. 17.There are more activities at my DoDDs school than at my school in the States. 18.I did my homework more before I came to this base. 19.The kids with real emotional and behavioral problems get less help on the base than they would in the States. 20.If I could somehow teleport this school to my home state and put it side by side with my stateside school, I would still not attend the DoDD's school.
Books, Manuscripts and Periodicals
Oshirto, Yoshinobu. Historical Development of the Defense Schools With Emphasis on Japan, Far East Pacific Area, 1946_1973. Unpublished Dissertation in Curriculum Development and Supervision (Doctor of Education). Logan Utah: Utah State University, 1973.
Walling, Donovan R. "America's Overseas School System." Phi Delta Kappan, February 1985, pp. 424-425
Government Documents Listed By DS or DSPR Number (DS=Dependent Schools; DSPAR=Dependent Schools, Pacific Region.)
DSPAR 2000.1, September 7, 1984. "High School Graduation Requirements."
DS 2000.2, April 13, 1984. "Length of the School Day."
DS 2000.3, December 16, 1981. "Parent Conference Policy."
DS 2000.5 June 14, 1978. "Department of Defense Dependent Schools Curriculum Development Program."
DS 2000.6. August 19, 1985. "Pupil Assessment Policy."
DSPAR 2000.7, February 25, 1980. "Topics of Sensitive or Controversial Nature."
DS 2000.8, January 1, 1990. "DoDDS Homework Policy."
DSPAR 2000.9, February 1, 1987. "7-12 Sequential Learning Guide."
DSPAR 2003.1, May 2, 1990. "Department of Defense Dependents Schools Pacific Region Extracurricular Activities and Duties for PL 86-91."
DS 2010.1, December 18, 1987. "Department of Defense Dependents Schools Accreditation Program."
DS 2400.1, May 27, 1977. "Approved List of Basic Textbook Instruction Materials."
DS 2430.1, May 1, 1977. "Reading Improvement Specialists' Guide: Functions and Responsibilities of Developmental Reading."
Interview with Chauncey Gardiner, Samurai High School English Teacher, June 3, 1991. Text in this paper, p 39.
Interview with June April, Assistant Principal, Samurai High School, May 30, 1991. Text in this paper, pp. 37-38.
Interview with Mr. Richard Oldster, Director of DoDDs Pacific Schools. May 28, 1991. Text in this paper, pp. 35-36.
Voluntary Attitudinal Survey For DoDDs Students. Written By Daniel Richard Fruit and administered May 30-31 to Samurai High School 7-12 graders. Sample printed in this paper, pp. 40-41.
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