Now that Trump is raiding the Department of Defense budget to pay for his border wall, something has to give. 127 somethings, in fact, one of which is a new middle school at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
The Pentagon’s decision to divert $62.6 million from the construction of Fort Campbell’s middle school means that 552 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades will continue to cram themselves in, 30 to a classroom in some cases, at the base’s aging Mahaffey Middle School. Teachers at Mahaffey will continue to use mobile carts to store their books, lesson plans and homework assignments because there is not enough classroom space. Students stuffed into makeshift classrooms-within-classrooms will continue to strain to figure out which lesson to listen to and which one to filter out.
Just how badly did they need the new school?
At Fort Campbell, Mahaffey Middle School, around 40 years old, has for more than a decade been in want of deep renovations. As far back as 2007, the Senate Armed Services Committee was hearing testimony from local teachers that the school needed help. “Garbage cans catch water from a leaking room while a broken heating and air-conditioning system produces sauna-like conditions in some classrooms, while other classes have no heat,” Misti K. Stevens, then a member of the Military Child Education Coalition, said in written testimony.
It’s also worth noting what the parents of these kids are doing that has them at Fort Campbell in the first place.
For almost two decades, families at Fort Campbell, the sprawling Army base along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, have borne the brunt of the country’s war efforts as a steady clip of troops with the 101st Airborne Division and from Special Operations units deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hell of way to say “thank you for your service” (or “thanks for your mom or dad’s service, hope they don’t die”). It’s all of a piece with the generally terrible way this country treats its military personnel and veterans, which has only gotten worse now that they need to compete with Trump’s ego for attention.
We’re making the children of military personnel pay because the President promised a big wall and even invented a crisis to justify it. The base being in Kentucky, personnel there thought Mitch McConnell might step in and help, but no dice; Moscow Mitch is following the president’s program, and there’s it’s won’t benefit him or his cronies the way Russian aluminum manufacturing does, so the soldiers are just S.O.L.