Thursday, August 23, 2007

Schools and the Military

Last year the Peace Network of the Ozarks approached the Springfield school board to point out that their process for allowing students to opt out of military recruitment efforts in the schools posed at least two problems. First it punished students who opted out by removing their names from all external contact lists so that if they elected not to have their personal information given to military recruiters, they would also be excluded from the yearbook, the school directory, colleges and universities, employers, etc. Secondly, it was obviously not in accord with the law in that the law allows students to opt out of military contact alone by submitting any form to that effect to the school administration. But the school insisted that students must use the school’s form which forced them out of all contact and not just contact with military recruiters.

This year the school board published their “revised” policy. Now students who opt out get to chose what they are excluded from, but still can’t be excluded only from military recruitment. Instead, they can choose not to be included in “District Purposes” like the yearbook, school directory, athletic programs, etc. or “Non-District Purposes” including commercial interests, businesses, employers, military recruiters and others. (i.e. colleges and universities, etc.) Or they can opt out of both categories.

I want this to be perfectly clear: PNO never argued that military recruiters should not be allowed in schools or that students who want to talk to recruiters should be prevented from doing so. We understand that the military is necessary. We understand that it offers career opportunities as well as opportunities for service to country.

Our position is simply that because the law (not the Sunshine Act which has nothing at all to do with this even though the school board cites it in their opt-out form, but the education funding bill which forced schools to accept recruiters if they want to receive federal funds.) clearly states that students may opt out of military recruitment efforts by submitting any statement to that effect. Why does the school board insist on lumping military recruitment with other contacts that are likely to be seen as desirable by all students instead of simply complying with the law without penalizing those who elect to act in accord with it by opting out of recruitment efforts? The result of their approach is forced exposure to military recruitment instead of willing participation, and that is the basis of our objection to the “new” policy. It is far too little, far too late.

Speaking of military and schools, a new twist is schools partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Joppatowne High School is the first school in the country to offer a curriculum titled Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in a magnet program. Way to go BushCo; got to protect der Fadderland. My only hope is that if they make them wear uniforms they won’t include brown shirts.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

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