Teacher Furloughs Rock U.S. Military Academies

'The intellectual depth and rigor...is quickly being lost,' one instructor says.

U.S. Army cadets take notes during a lecture on terrorism on March 30,  2007, at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
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This story was updated at 10:50 a.m. Thursday to reflect new information:

Officials for the service academies announced that football games on Saturday, Oct. 5 would proceed as planned. The games between Air Force and Navy in Annapolis, Md., as well as West Point and Boston College in Boston were originally canceled due to the government shutdown.

Scott Strasemeier, the Navy associate athletic director, tweeted Wednesday night "#NavyFootball game on Saturday against Air Force is a GO." 

#NavyFootball game on Saturday against Air Force is a GO. Kickoff 11:30 AM on CBS. No word on the rest of the sports this weekend.

— Scott Strasemeier (@ScottStras) October 3, 2013

United Airlines had offered to fly the Air Force Academy to the Navy game, following restrictions on non-essential travel for military members. USA Today reported late Wednesday that the Department of Defense had approved the teams' travel. 


This story was originally posted at 12:42 p.m. Wednesday:

America's future military leaders are getting a dose of the more grueling aspects of government service, as all civilian faculty at the three largest service academies were sent home from classes.

[READ: Shutdown Scraps Games at All Service Academies]

Civilians make up more than a quarter of the staff at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a third at the U.S. Air Force Academy and more than half of the teachers at the U.S. Naval Academy. All of them were forced from the classroom Tuesday morning following the government shutdown, leaving their military officer colleagues with a larger load on their mortarboards.

"We're in full business. As far as the students are concerned...they haven't seen an impact," said one Naval Academy military instructor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

But that could change as these temporary plans face off against a deadlocked Congress.

"The intellectual depth and rigor that usually goes with a top college is quickly being lost," the officer says.

This staffing shortfall is different than those under sequestration this past summer. Those furloughs, which prompted the Naval Academy to plan for class cancellations, were a cost-saving measure and thus military counterparts were barred from picking up any of the slack.

These are required by law, leaving teachers scrambling to maintain the high educational standards these officers-in-training expect.

Instructors are doubling or as much as tripling up on their usual course loads after Tuesday morning, when civilian faculty were allowed four hours to come to work and prepare for their absences.

The Naval Academy instructor and his colleagues are spreading the vacant 100- and 200-level classes between them, which are within their expertise to teach. Putting a body behind the podium gets increasingly difficult, the officer says, in the more advanced classes that only a select few civilians taught.

[BEST COLLEGES: U.S. Naval Academy]

This temporary scheme was set up to last for about a week, the officer says, warning of future degradation if Congress is unable to agree on a budget and re-open the government.

Congress' inability to reach a consensus on the budget by Monday night prompted the government to shut down due to a lack of appropriations. This excepts any active-duty military member, or civilian whose work supports those missions. It also exempts contractors, whose money was allocated prior to the shutdown.

This leaves roughly 400,000 Department of Defense civilian employees out of work.

The Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. receives funding from the Department of Transportation, and closed down entirely in the wake of the shutdown. All of the midshipmen at the much smaller academy there will be sent home, Marine Log reports, if the budget situation is not resolved within a week.

The three military academies have issued statements saying they will accomplish their missions of preparing cadets and midshipmen. Extra curricular activities, faculty research, trips and other events outside of the classroom will likely take a hit.

Update 10/03/2013: Officials for the service academies announced that football games on Saturday, Oct. 5 would proceed as planned, despite earlier reports they would be canceled due to the government shutdown.