Education council gets earful on how to improve DODDS
March 25, 2009
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Some parents say students should have more homework. Others think there should be less busy work.
On Monday, parents in Sasebo were the first to air their opinions on military schools to the Pacific Theater Education Council, an advisory group that tours facilities in the Pacific and gives suggestions for improvement to school administrators.
The U.S. Pacific Command council is visiting Sasebo, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Misawa Air Base this week as part of the annual outing to collect information from parents, students and teachers.
During a parent forum at Sasebo Elementary, Jean Silvernail, a military child education specialist, led parents in a free-ranging discussion on Department of Defense Dependent Schools.
Jacqui Millberg said her biggest concern is that DODDS schooling provides tailored education to her two children.
"They definitely are different in their learning styles," Millberg said.
She said her second-grader son is a fast learner and is in the Gifted Education Program. Her daughter, she said, needs additional help with reading and has been using the Pacific Literacy Program designed to help improve student reading skills.
The parents, who were invited to the group forum, had praise and concerns.
Kate Canady, a dependent wife and parent to a middle school student, said she is concerned her son is falling behind students in the States because of the DODDS curriculum and may not be able to compete when the family returns.
Her son’s friends in the States were taking algebra at least one year before it was available in Sasebo, she said.
"He’ll be in ninth grade next year and he did not have the opportunities he would have in the States," Canady said. "Most of us came from those (statesside) schools and most of us will return to those schools."
Meanwhile, Lt. Marcelo Dijamco, the assistant public works officer for Sasebo Naval Base, said Sasebo Elementary and E.J. King High School could use some infrastructure upgrades to an annex used for classrooms.
"It used to be an old hospital and we converted it to a school," he said. "We did the best we could."
But now that building needs to be upgraded to provide new facilities for the students, Dijamco said.
The education advisory council will collect the information from the schools and deliver recommendations to DODDS-Pacific and the director of the Department of Defense Education Activity.
The advisory group travels to several schools in the Pacific region every year — last year they traveled to South Korea. Public forums are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Iwakuni’s M.C. Perry Elementary and 4 p.m. Thursday at Misawa’s Sollars Elementary.
"DODDS schools in different parts of the world have very different issues," Silvernail said. "We can actually say we have gone to the different areas to address the issues that are there."
Charles Kelker, the chief of staff for DODDS Pacific, said parents should voice concerns and problems to the advisory council and press for action.
"That is how these issues get moved up the chain of command," he said. "If you don’t make it known, it can’t happen."