Blog: The Educated Reporter

At Camp Lejeune, Unexpected Lessons in School Success

Michael Winerip’s latest column in the New York Times — about children on military bases outscoring their civilian peers on the “Nation’s Report Card” — got me thinking.

I spent nine years in southern Nevada, which is home to Nellis Air Force Base. Stories about the children of military families usually revolved around how they were dealing with the stress of having a parent on active duty overseas or perhaps a profile of a particularly outstanding graduate. To be honest, we didn’t spend much time on how those schools might be operating differently than the off-base campuses.

I doubt many people knew, prior to reading Winerip’s column, that the schools on military bases are not subject to the stringent regulations of No Child Left Behind. I’m curious about the origins of that exemption, and I plan to look into it.

There are a lot of nice moments in Winerip’s column (no surprise there, right?). But perhaps my favorite is this one: “It has become fashionable for American educators to fly off to Helsinki to investigate how schools there produce such high-achieving Finns. But for just $69.95 a night, they can stay at the Days Inn in Jacksonville, N.C., and investigate how the schools here on the Camp Lejeune Marine base produce such high-achieving Americans — both black and white.”

Winerip describes a Camp Lejeune elementary school where the principal has autonomy, the teachers union and the administration work in concert — not conflict — and standardized tests are used to guide individual student instruction.

Come to think of it, that does sound a fair bit like Finland.



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