Photo: USACE, DoDEA celebrate awesome during Engineers Week 2013 (8494454017), Wiesbaden Middle School; author: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe; public domain
Last October the New York Times reported that the schools run by the Department of Defense for about 66,000 children of service members have been doing better than public schools in all 50 states, as measured by the widely followed National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. Most of these schools are on American military bases.
The Department of Defense Education Activity schools were first in our nation on the NAEP reading and math assessments in 2022. These schools were the only state or jurisdiction to show an increase in performance in any grade or subject that year.
The U.S. Army has a larger minority population than America as a whole: 46% compared with 40%. The outperformance of secondary schools on military bases compared with other public schools is due to better discipline.
A total of 45% of students in these Department of Defense secondary schools are in low-income families, which is higher than the national average of 38%. Moreover, one-third of the children in military families move each year due to transfers from their parents, which is a hardship.
The military knows how to discipline its members, without permitting bad behavior until expulsion becomes necessary. Corporal punishment, such as swatting a misbehaving student, was allowed nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court for public schools in Ingraham v. Wright in 1977, yet states outside the South ban it.
In public schools, 77% of teachers are female today, in sharp contrast with how our military is run. The overwhelming percentage of those public school teachers are liberal and opposed to any physical punishment of any kind for bad conduct.
Studies show that physical penalties for misbehavior are not any more harmful than other forms of punishment, such as repeated yelling. Many of the same students who are violent toward other students and teachers also play violent sports like football, which create a far greater risk of injury to them than any physical discipline would.