August 25, 2005
The Nation: "Military Recruiters Are Now Targeting Sixth Graders. Who's Next?"
The new issue of The Nation has a cover story on military recruiting by Karen Houppert. Read it here.
August 22, 2005
Puerto Rican Activists Launch Campaign to Protect Students From U.S. Military Recruiters
From the Associated Press:
- A coalition of non-governmental groups launched a new campaign Sunday aimed at stopping high schools in Puerto Rico from giving student information to U.S. military recruiters.
The Citizen Coalition Against Militarism will visit high schools around the U.S. Caribbean territory this week to urge students and parents not to allow schools to release students' names, addresses, phone numbers and other data to military recruiters, the group said in a statement.
"Parents of students ... have the moral responsibility to defend the life and privacy of their children," said the coalition, a mix of anti-war groups, human rights organizations and teachers' unions.
The group plans to distribute forms that students and parents can send to schools asking them to withhold personal data from military recruiters, as allowed under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, the group said.
Last year, nearly half of parents of high school students in Puerto Rico asked schools not to release such information to recruiters.
August 02, 2005
Seattle Proposes New Recruiting Rules
Seattle Public Schools is considering new rules that would significantly limit access for military recruiters on high school campuses. According to the Seattle Times,
The proposed rules mandate that:
• Recruiters be confined to designated areas on campus.
• All military recruiters wear uniforms.
• No private appointments be held between recruiters and students on campus, and no private appointments be held when a student is due in class.
• Schools post recruiting rules and upcoming visits on campus throughout the year.
• Organizations advocating alternative careers to the military be allowed on campus at the same time and in the same location as military recruiters.
• Recruiters first receive written permission to be on campus from the principal or a principal's designee. Recruiters must sign in and out of the school office at each visit and leave clear contact details on any written information left behind.
The proposal follows school-year activism on the part of the Garfield High School's Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), and its co-chairwoman Amy Hagopian. In May, the PTSA adopted a symbolic resolution banning recruiters from campus.
"I applaud the fact that they are looking at this issue, and appreciate the fact they took our field stance seriously enough they examined districtwide policies," [Hagopian] said.
Hagopian added she would have liked the district to go further by outlining its anti-discrimination policy to the military, which does not allow openly gay soldiers.
Kentucky students Opt Out, Minnesotans Fight Back
The Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune reports that the latest recruiting battleground in the midwest are "county fairs, street basketball tournaments and music concerts. Anyplace where they are likely to find those in their target market: 17- to 24-year-olds." But "[recruiters] aren't the only ones talking about a military career."
"Counter-recruiters are out there, too, trying to drum up support for their cause and to give young people the "real" information about what they can expect if they join the military.
In Minnesota, a group known as Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) is circulating a petition aimed at blocking recruiters' access to students through schools. The petition asks state and local education leaders to ensure that every student and parent receives an opt-out form and a clear warning that failure to fill it out this fall will result in recruiters obtaining students' names and contact information. It also asks school leaders to stop allowing the military to use the schools as recruiting grounds.
"The idea is to win people over to our side, so that the recruiters are met with such resistance when they come to the schools that they don't see the point in coming anymore," said Brandon Madsen, 18, a self-described socialist and a recent graduate of Bloomington Kennedy High School.
In addition to the petition drive, Youth Against War is planning a student walk-out this fall to draw attention to the recruiting issue.
And students in Kentucky are also turning down recuiters, according to the Lexington Herald-Reader. Once high school students were informed about their right to protect their personal information from recruiters, "about 4,800 [students] in Jefferson County -- 20 percent of the district's high school students -- have barred recruiters from their directory information." Kentucky lets schools decide how much to publicize the opt-out forms, and some local peace activists want the state to go further, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"We've shown there's a demand by parents not to have this information sent to kids," said Chris Harmer, a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Aim Higher, which opposes high school recruiting.
July 06, 2005
Air Force Plans Large Expansion of JROTC Programs
The magazine PeaceWork is reporting that the Air Force plans to expand its high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program by 200 schools by 2007. There are currently 746 high school programs. The Air Force plans to add 46 schools this fall and 75 in both 2006 and 2007. PeaceWork has published a list of the 46 new schools. The magazine has also obtained a list of 207 schools on the Navy's target list for new JROTC programs.
NYCLU Demands Military Hand Over Info On Student Recruitment Tactics
From the New York Civil Liberties Union:
- Concerned about student privacy and abusive practices by military recruiters, the New York Civil Liberties Union today demanded that high-level military officials produce information about recruiter policies and practices and about how students and parents can file complaints against recruiters. The demands came in the form of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to each of the military branches and in the form of letters requesting information from the head recruiters of each military branch...
The FOIA requests demand information about the tactics and conduct of military recruiters, the criteria by which recruiters target students, the information they give to students about military careers, and complaints filed by students and their families. The letters to the recruiting commands of all four military branches ask what if any mechanisms they have in place to deal with complaints and to protect student privacy.
“We hope that these requests will elicit more information about the methods and goals of military recruiters and what students, parents, and teachers can do when they don’t behave appropriately,” said Jeff Fogel, NYCLU Attorney.
June 20, 2005
ACLU Sues Albuquerque Public Schools Over Military Recruiting
The battle over military recruiting in high schools continues... in New Mexico the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the Albuquerque Public Schools for failing to properly notify parents of their option to prohibit public schools from directly sending their children’s contact information to military recruiters.
“At a time when people who enter the military face the very real prospect of going into battle, parents should have the right to control what the US Department of Defense knows about their children and how easily they can recruit them to become soldiers," said New Mexico ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson.
June 16, 2005
Read the Pentagon's "School Recruiting Program Handbook"
Earlier today, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert mentioned the handbook in his column "Uncle Sam Really Wants You".
- With the situation in Iraq deteriorating and the willingness of Americans to serve in the armed forces declining, a little-known Army publication called the "School Recruiting Program Handbook" is becoming increasingly important, and controversial.
The handbook is the recruiter's bible, the essential guide for those who have to go into the nation's high schools and round up warm bodies to fill the embarrassingly skimpy ranks of the Army's basic training units.
The handbook declares forthrightly, "The goal is school ownership that can only lead to a greater number of Army enlistments."
What I was not able to find in the handbook was anything remotely like the startlingly frank comments of a sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., who was quoted in the May 30 issue of The Army Times. He was addressing troops in the seventh week of basic training, and the paper reported the scene as follows:
"Does anybody know what posthumous means?" Staff Sgt. Andre Allen asked the 150 infantrymen-in-training, members of F Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment.
A few hands went up, but he answered his own question.
"It means after death. Some of you are going to get medals that way,' he said matter-of-factly, underscoring the possibility that some of them would be sent to combat and not return."
That's the honest message recruits get once they're in. The approach recommended by the recruiting handbook is somewhat different. It's much softer. Recruiters trying to sign up high school students are urged to schmooze, schmooze, schmooze.
Here are some excerpts from the "School Recruiting Program Handbook":
- "Black History Month: Participate in events as available"
- "Hispanic Heritage Month. Participate in events as available"
- "Be so helpful and so much a part of the school scene that you are in constant demand."
- "The football team usually starts practicing in August. Contact the coach and volunteer to assist in leading calisthenics or calling cadence during team runs."
- "Homecoming normally happens in October. Coordinate with the homecoming committee to get involved with the parade."
- "Some influential students such as the student president or the captain of the football team may not enlist; however, they can and will provide you with referrals who will enlist."
- "If you wait until they're seniors, it's probably too late."
- "Don't forget the administrative staff. ... Have something to give them (pen, calendar, cup, donuts, etc.) and always remember secretary's week, with a card or flowers."
- "Get involved with local Boy Scout troops. Scoutmasters are typically happy to get any assistance you can offer. Many scouts are [high school] students and potential enlistees or student influencers."
June 13, 2005
The Children’s Crusade: Military Programs Move Into Middle Schools to Fish for Future Soldiers
From In These Times: Tarsha Moore stands as tall as her 4-foot 8-inch frame will allow. Staring straight ahead, she yells out an order to a squad of peers lined up in three perfect columns next to her. Having been in the military program for six years, Tarsha has earned the rank of captain and is in charge of the 28 boys and girls in her squad. This is Lavizzo Elementary School. Tarsha is 14.
The Middle School Cadet Corps (MSCC) program at the K-8 school is part of a growing trend to militarize middle schools. Students at Lavizzo are among the more than 850 Chicago students who have enlisted in one of the city's 26 MSCC programs. At Madero Middle School, the MSCC has evolved into a full-time military academy for kids 11 to 14 years old.
Chicago public schools are home to the largest Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program, which oversees the MSCC, in the country. When moving up to high school, Chicago's graduating eighth-graders can choose from 45 JROTC programs, including three full-time Army military academies, five "school-within-a-school" Army JROTC academies and one JROTC Naval academy.
Proponents of the programs tout leadership training and character development. But critics quote former Defense Secretary Gen. William Cohen, who described JROTC as "one of the best recruiting services that we could have." Read More
June 08, 2005
NJ Parents: Keep Military Recruiters Out of the School Cafeteria
In Highland Park NJ, the Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War met with the local school board on Monday to request that military recruiters be only allowed access to students in the school guidance office -- not the cafeteria. "Right now the military recruiters set up in the cafeteria - they have access to seventh graders," said Mary Walworth, a mother of two.