Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On the third day of opt out a recruiter said to me.....
"The goal is school ownership that can only lead
to a greater number of Army enlistments."
-School Recruiting Program Handbook, United States Army Recruiting Command

The 12 Days of Opt Out
September 12-24, 2005

Check out this blogsite as it changes each day during Sept. 12-24 to educate and highlight the various ways schools are militarized.

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, schools have been coerced into allowing military recruiters on campus- under threat of having federal funds withheld. Until Section 9528 of NCLB can be repealed, here is some information on what you can do now to limit military recruiters who prey on students in schools.

Section 9528 demands schools "
shall provide military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as is provided generally to post secondary educational institutions or to prospective employers of those students."

How often do college recruiters visit your campus? How many times did a potential employer visit your school last year- once during the annual job fair?

How often are military recruiters on campus? In the months leading up to the Iraq War, we had recruiters on campus 4-5 days a week. Army on Monday, National Guard on Tuesday, Navy on Wednesday....each came in and set up a table in the cafeteria and talked to students at lunch time. Pushing military service and pencils, pens, mousepads and stickers on students.

Then, one day the students organized and set up an anti-war table next to the recruiter. This created a very tense situation- pro-war kids tore up peace flyers and threatened the students at the peace table. One of the "peace" students got in a very heated exchange with the recruiter. The photo of the two of them- debating over the table, almost nose-to-nose, got published in the local newspaper. School officials rang the bell and ended lunch 10 minutes early- they were afraid a fight or riot was about to break out.

As successful as this action was- I don't suggest this tactic. It's better to have a counter recruiting table- speak to facts on military service. This is different than an anti-war table (although there is a time and place for that, too!) Set up on a different day or place than the recruiters- if someone has been talking to recruiters, they may not feel comfortable picking up our literature in front the the recruiter. Invite an adult to help out- a local member of Veterans for Peace, a supportive teacher, or someone from a community peace movement or counter recruiting organization (their presence could help keep things civil).

Today, recruiters are no longer allowed in the cafeteria at the high school. Instead, they can meet with students in a small office on campus. Recruiter visits are announced over the school loud speaker system. Teen Peace has been meeting with students in the community at coffee shops, the public library and local business establishments owned by folks who support our work. The students in Teen Peace do the counter recruiting work, one-on-one in the high school, in our community at weekly meetings, and now travel across Washington State to speak to students, parents and community members about opting out, counter recruiting, and conscientious objection.

In the past three years, we have organized parents to come to school board meetings to get them to enforce the opt out policies required by the No Child Left Behind act, helped gather 900 signatures on a petition to convince the school board to let parents decide who contacts the students at home, walked out of school to protest the war, and organized student actions at the high school to remind students to opt out.

Last Spring, I met with the school guidance counselor. Recruiters now visit the school a few times a year- it just isn't very effective for them anymore. When recruiters are on campus, few people visit them in the small office- students know they have other options, don't believe recruiters' hype, and enlistment of students has been reduced 75% since we first began educating, organizing and taking action in 2002.

Liz Rivera Goldstein
Teen Peace Project, Port Townsend, WA

•Gaining equal access to schools

•Military Out of Our Schools -
Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors

• Publications to help you educate, agitate and organize!
Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD)

•Adopt a School Program-Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools (CAMS)

•Not Your Soldier- Student Activist Training Camps for counter recruiting


At 2:36 PM, Blogger josh said...

If you are interested in limiting military recruiter access, I'd urge you to consider the policies of a few other school districts. One district limits all recruiters to 3 days per year, another bans recruiters from classrooms and Humvees from campus, and a third makes sure all visits are monitored by school staff. Read about these and more at a recent Leave My Child Alone blog posting:

At 2:39 PM, Blogger josh said...

The link goes off the screen a bit above, so if you're trying to access the LMCA blog posting about military recruiter access:

try this link


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