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.

(Note: MilitaryFreeZone.org has published Opt-Out forms for students and parents to fill out in order to block school officials from giving the student's information to the Pentagon.)

Posted by MikeBurke on June 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack

May 28, 2005

Leave My Child Alone

Working Assets -- along with Acorn and a group called Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue -- has launched the website LeaveMyChildAlone.org in order to fight the provision inside the No Child Left Behind Act that forces schools to hand over student information to recruiters unless parents opt out of the deal.

The group is organizing "Opt Out house parties" across the country on June 1.

Meanwhile in Vermont, the Rutland Herald reports that nearly 10 percent of the student body at Rutland High School has opted off of recruitment lists.

Posted by MikeBurke on May 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 21, 2005

Rep. Jim McDermott Slams Seattle Times For Backing Recruiters in High School

In a column titled "High-school Students and Soldiers Deserve More," Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) writes:

The Seattle Times' editorial "Don't ban recruiters from high school" (April 15) does a disservice to every high-school junior and senior, as well as every soldier who would like some say over his or her destiny. That should have been painfully obvious following The Times' own coverage of Emiliano Santiago, a soldier who has served his country with distinction, but now faces a sentence to serve because the military cannot recruit enough soldiers.

Buried in the fine print of Santiago's recruitment paperwork eight years ago was a provision called stop-loss. It is meant to ensure that America has enough soldiers to defend itself in time of national emergency, but the Pentagon under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has perverted the use of stop-loss because military recruitment is significantly below goals.

Stop-loss now affects 50,000 soldiers. Santiago could end up serving until Christmas Eve, 2031, 37 years after he signed up — a virtual lifetime.

Every student and every parent should remember Santiago's case because it could happen to you, and no one in the military is going to tell you beforehand. And stop-loss is not the only stealth tactic in use by the military.

A provision buried in the No Child Left Behind law forces high schools to turn over student contact information to military recruiters. Any school that balks can lose all of its federal money. The Seattle Times casually tells its readers that a student can sign a form to opt out. The reality is that young people have lost their right to privacy and The Times is stone-cold silent on restoring this fundamental right in a free society.

I served my country as an officer in the United States Navy, and I believe that every American has a responsibility to give back to our country. For some, a career in the military is the right choice. But a decision to even consider a military career belongs solely with the individual, and that's not what we have today. That's why I joined with the punk band Anti-Flag to launch a nationwide drive to alert students on how to opt out and demand that Congress restore student privacy. (More information can be found at www.militaryfreezone.org)

Meanwhile, don't blame the recruiters. These people were selected because they are role models, the best of the best to represent the military. Now, they suffer under a quota system, and recruiters are under increasing pressure to find soldiers. Army National Guard recruitment plunged 31 percent in February and fell another 12 percent in March.

Young people are the hope and future of this great nation. We owe them more than to casually compromise their basic right to privacy. According to The Seattle Times, students have the right to die in Iraq, but they don't have the right to privacy. With misguided opinion like this, is it any wonder that young people don't trust adults?

Posted by MikeBurke on April 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 18, 2005

Punk Rockers & Politicians Launch MilitaryFreeZone.org

Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) gathered with the band Anti-Flag Thursday on Capitol Hill to help launch the site MilitaryFreeZone.org and a national petition drive to restore privacy to student records in schools.

The petition aims to rewrite the provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that forces schools to hand over personal student information to military recruiters. MilitaryFreeZone.org also has published a form students can submit in order to block the military from accessing personal information about them.

"Not only has No Child Left Behind been shortchanged by the war in Iraq, now we learn the military is using it for an immoral recruitment scheme," said Rep. Pete Stark in a statement. "No Child Left Behind is supposed to be about student achievement, not military recruiting."

Posted by MikeBurke on March 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 08, 2005

No Child Left Unrecruited: 9 Democrats Back Call to Protect Students From Military Recruiters

Nine Democratic members of Congress have officially co-sponsored Rep. Mike Honda's (D-CA) bill for amending the No Child Left Behind Act to protect high school students from military recruiters.

Honda introduced the "Student Privacy Protection Act of 2005" last month. The legislation would block public schools from releasing personal information about students to recruiters without the explicit permission of the student or parent. Under the NCLB Act, schools risk losing federal aid if they do not hand over the names of every students along with their home phone numbers and home addresses. A student or parent wishing to opt out must file paperwork with the school requesting their personal information not be handed over.

Co-sponsoring Honda's legislation are Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL).

In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act requires that military recruiters be given near-unfettered access to school grounds.

"Military recruitment efforts are omnipresent inside our public schools," writes Michael Berg, director of the Carolina Peace Resource Center in a recent article. "Recruiters walk freely around high school cafeterias in uniforms and talk to students. They hang posters on the school walls. They loiter in the parking lots. A recent Richland 1 career fair for eighth graders, held at Fort Jackson (South Carolina), had those representing careers other than the military confined behind tables and answering three short questions, while military personnel operated in groups wandering around, intercepting and talking to children at will."

For an excellent overview of the military recruiting provisons of the No Child Left Behind Act read David Goodman's article "No Child Left Unrecruited" from Mother Jones.

Posted by MikeBurke on March 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

New House Bill Aims To Limit Military Recruiter Access to Students

From the San Francisco Chronicle: "San Jose Democratic Rep. Mike Honda, citing privacy concerns, has proposed a law that would make it easier for parents to block military recruiters from gaining easy access to high school students on or off campus...

"The No Child Left Behind Act approved by Congress in 2001 requires school districts to provide military recruiters with the same access to high schools given to college or job recruiters.

"Under the current law, parents must tell school officials they don't want their child contacted by the military, at school or home. Otherwise, schools are required to turn over students' names, addresses and phone numbers to Pentagon recruiters. Honda wants to turn that around, and allow the military to talk only to those students whose parents approve such contact." [More]

In announcing the Student Privacy Protection Act, Rep. Honda (D-CA) said, "I want to ensure that students are willing recipients of the military’s recruitment efforts... Let students and their families choose who they want soliciting them in the mail and on the phone during dinner."

To date, the San Francisco Chronicle is the only national news outlet to report on the legislation.

Posted by MikeBurke on March 5, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (8)