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Education Alert: Military Teaches Our Kids

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Flickr/U.S. Army RDECOMThere’s a saying in the Army recruiting community: “First to contact, first to contract.” In the United States, you have to be at least 17 years old to enlist in the armed forces. But, according to those who make a living tracking students’ feelings about the military, it would be pure folly not to start before then. Enter public education. In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, the Department of Defense (DoD) was administering more than a dozen different programs and spending close to $50 million on K–12 outreach targeting the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

As school budgets continue to be decimated, it can be hard for some educators to turn down free STEM education. “The Pentagon has money,” as Corey Mead puts it in his book War Play, “and our public schools are starved for funds.” In their enthusiasm for Pentagon-supported STEM initiatives, educators can forget to check whether there are other motives besides spurring a love of science in the young. In fact, by avoiding the “recruitment” label, the military is able to use STEM education as a Trojan horse to gain access to students and plant the seeds for eventual recruitment.

Militarizing the STEM Curriculum

One of the DoD’s largest K–12 programs is the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), which consists of at least nine distinct STEM educational programs. During the 2011–12 academic year, the AEOP reached nearly 53,000 students. John Parmentola, Army director of research and laboratory management, says that one of the AEOP’s goals is to encourage youth so that “someday some of them may decide to work in an Army laboratory or join the Army with an understanding of how technical fields support the Army’s mission.”

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Statewide ASVAB Option 8 Bill SB 423, Advances in Connecticut

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Pat Elder -

Members of the Connecticut House of Representatives meet during the final day of session at the Capitol in Hartford, Conn., Wednesday, June 5, 2013.We’re working with the ACLU of Connecticut to pass SB 423, a bill that would protect the privacy of high school students who take the ASVAB.  On March 19, 2014, SB 423 passed the Connecticut Education Committee 22-10 on a purely partisan vote.

We’re hopeful the bill will make it to the floor.  Ahead of the vote, the committee received this testimony opposed to the legislation from Lt. Colonel Michael D. Coleman, Commander, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, Albany, NY. The letter apparently didn’t sway a single Democratic vote.

For those of us across the country who have been working on this issue for years, this letter represents the epitome of deception, ignorance and arrogance. Please take a moment to read the Lt. Colonel’s letter and our response. 

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ALERT: LINKAGE OF DRAFT REGISTRATION TO CALIFORNIA DRIVER’S LICENSE IS PROPOSED AGAIN

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LINKAGE OF DRAFT REGISTRATION

TO CALIFORNIA DRIVER’S LICENSE IS PROPOSED AGAIN

Alert! Assembly Bill 2201After failing five previous times, the Selective Service System is again asking the California state legislature to pass a bill linking Selective Service registration to California drivers’ licenses. California’s large population has one of the lowest SS registration compliance rates in the country, which could complicate any future attempt to resort to forced military service.

Proposed by Assemblymember Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside), Assembly Bill 2201 seeks to use DMV records to automatically register males with Selective Service when they apply for a license or license renewal (it does not include DMV-issued ID cards).

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Transportation on APRIL 21.

If approved by that committee, it would need to also survive the finance committee and an assembly floor vote, and then go through a similar process in the state senate.

The last time this proposal was introduced in California (SB 251 in 2011), an amended version was approved by the transportation committee and then, like all the others, died when it was held in suspension by the finance committee.

Included below is a set of talking points to consider when writing to legislators regarding AB 2201. Californians should contact the Transportation Committee BEFORE 4/21. Fax if possible (regular mail is now slowed by capitol security checks):

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Army Makes Case Against Enlisting

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David Swanson -

Remarkably, the U.S. Army War College has published a report (PDF) that makes an overwhelming case against enlisting in the U.S. Army.  The report, called "Civilian Organizational Inhibitors to U.S. Army Recruiting and the Road Ahead," identifies counter-recruitment organizations that effectively discourage young people from joining the military.

This is the highest honor the Army could give these groups, including Quaker House, the Mennonite Central Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Courage to Resist.  Activists often disbelieve in the effectiveness of their own work until the government admits it explicitly.  Well, here is that admission.  And counter-recruitment activists really do seem to appreciate it.

No doubt someone quickly sent the report along to the NSA and the FBI.  The report is, in fact, a few years old, and we have seen the government infiltrating at least some of the organizations named in it during the past few years.

But who really should be reading this excellent report is potential recruits.  In laying out the arguments of the counter-recruitment groups and then trying to refute them, the report's author, Lieutenant Colonel Todd M. Jacobus, makes their case persuasively and his own weakly in the extreme.  I'm not sure if this is intentional subterfuge, drug-induced self-parody, or just intellectual debility.  Regardless, the government will have new appreciation for its standard disclaimer that says the views expressed are the author's alone.

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Passing the Torch, at Last: Finding a New Generation of Anti-War Activists

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William T. Hathaway -

Not your soldierThe following is an excerpt from the book, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, by William Hathaway. It is a collection of reports from antiwar activists who share true stories of their efforts to change our warrior culture. This chapter was contributed by a "Granny for Peace," who tells of finding young allies in the struggle against military recruiting. Due to the PATRIOT Act, she wishes to remain nameless.

I grew up in the 1950s, when the USA was very conservative and bound by traditions. My parents' generation had grown up in the Depression amid poverty and then struggled through World War Two with its threat of death and destruction. By the time they were ready to start families, they were fixated on stability and security. They measured their progress by their possessions: buying their first car, first television, and first house. Their morality centered on controlling sexuality and protecting private property. Their religion was a death cult of stern patriarchs, obedient virgins, innocent babies, and threats of eternal torture. Their deepest philosophy was, "There is no free lunch." The peak of their scientific achievement was the hydrogen bomb. Fear was their strongest emotion.

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Signs of a Coming Push to Further Militarize Schools

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Rick Jahnkow -

A Marine Corps recruiter talks with two potential recruits. While all the active-duty services met their goals for 2013, Pentagon officials expect recruiting to get more difficult starting next year. (Marine Corps)In May 2013 the Military Times newspapers carried an article titled, “Services Prepare for Scant Recruiting Year.” It began with the following sentence:

Finding recruits to join the military in 2014 could be increasingly challenging, even with declining recruiting goals, defense and service personnel officials are warning Congress.

It went on to say that it is hard to see the problem because the active-duty military has been meeting its goals for quality and quantity of recruits, but then the Army Reserve missed its goals in the first quarter of fiscal 2013. The article also reported that on April 17, Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel readiness, warned the Senate Armed Services Committee of a possible future recruiting problem due to the improving economy.

Wright’s statement to the committee pointed out that “a slow economy makes recruiting less challenging,” but “signs of economic improvement” could soon end the current optimistic recruiting environment and, together with other factors, lead to recruiting difficulties.

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New Jersey’s Occupied School Districts

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Michelle Renee Matisons and Seth Sandronsky -

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (left) and Newark school chief Cami Anderson (right) teamed up, along with former mayor (now Senator) Corey Booker to implement corporate "school reform" and the charter school attack on public education in the state's largest city.With globalization, the expansion of capitalist production has doubled the planetary work force, and U.S. elites in New Jersey and other “blue and red states” are defunding urban education services and then conveniently refunding education through private market interventions. As corporate America flexes its political power by renting lawmakers at all levels, mass incarceration of the racialized populace has been a key social policy reflecting this trend of globalized class power. Like the War on Drugs that parallels it, the War on Public Schools directs public attention to a singular cause for the class inequality inherent in the capitalist system. Both “wars” masquerade as comprehensive solutions to crime and poverty, fixating on symptoms and not root causes of social problems.

Racialized class power is found everywhere in predatory reform targeting poor urban school districts. Like the War on Drugs, it disproportionately affects poor people of color, but poor urban and rural whites are casualties in both wars too. The bipartisan War on Public Schools picks up and exacerbates social outcomes created by the bipartisan War on Drugs: urban communities continually bear the brunt of a political system unified by racialized class power. Far from withering away, contemporary U.S. capitalism increasingly relies upon the state’s regulatory powers.

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Play virtual war as much as you like, but don’t shoot at the Red Cross!

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Permanent Observatory on Small Arms, Security and Defence Policies (OPAL) -

(See article of origin from International Red Cross below Notes on this Press Release by OPAL)

NPR: A gamer plays a war game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June. The ICRC wants war games to spread understanding of the rules of armed conflict.The Permanent Observatory on Small Arms, Security and Defence Policies of Brescia (Italy) considers “inappropriate and counterproductive” the initiative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to cooperate with companies that develop and produce video games reproducing real-war situations to introduce into such video games the rules of war and international humanitarian law.

A recent statement released by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report s that “The ICRC has started working with video game developers, so that video game players face the same dilemmas as real soldier”. 1

"Not only does this legitimise the use and dissemination of these video games but, paradoxically, it contributes to making them even more realistic, thus creating a dangerous affinity between the game an d reality» - says the Permanent Observatory on Small Arms (OPAL) based in Brescia.

"We acknowledge – continues the statement of OPAL – that today these video games have a global circulation and we understand the need to find ways of avoiding that they may further promote a notion of war as an indiscriminate reality. But we believe that the effort to include the rules of war so as to make these video games “closer to reality” 2 is artificial and, above all, counterproductive".

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) , after releasing last year a paper 3 on the relationship between “video games and humanitarian norms”, has decided to collaborate with developers of video games that simulate real situations of war. “The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – reports the statement released by the ICRC – has publicly stated its interest in the implications of video games that simulate real-war situations and the opportunities such games present for spreading knowledge of the law of armed conflict”. “However – the statements notes – the ICRC is not involved in the debate about the level of violence in video games”.

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In Chicago schools' Junior ROTC programs, some see a troubling trend

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Matthew Kovac -

From left: Yasmin Nair, Jesus Palafox and Owen Daniel-McCarter. Photo by Carrie MaxwellBeate Medina was returning home from walking her dogs one evening in May 2004 when she saw two Army officers standing at her door. The sight did not immediately register. Uniformed officers are a common sight at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii, where her husband’s division was based, and their street was being renumbered. She thought they had the wrong house.

It was not the wrong house. Staff Sgt. Oscar Vargas-Medina, a 32-year-old construction equipment repairman with the 84th Engineer Battalion, had been killed along with another soldier when their convoy was attacked in Al Amarah, Iraq.

In the days that followed, Medina could not sleep; time as a concept ceased to exist. “It was like I was in a fog,” she said.

Born in Cali, Colombia, Vargas-Medina grew up in Chicago and attended Roberto Clemente Community Academy High School, where he was a member of the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. When he went on to join the Army in 1992, Medina said he was likely thinking about how to provide for his first wife and their young son.

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Linchpin of Pentagon’s School-based Recruitment: Student Testing Program (ASVAB) Rife with Errors and Contradictions

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Pat Elder -

Student Privacy Compromised by Massive Program

Pentagon's ASVAB testingIn late December, 2013 the Department of Defense released a database on the military’s controversial Student Testing Program in 11,700 high schools across the country.  An examination of the complex and contradictory dataset raises serious issues regarding student privacy and the integrity of the Student Testing Program in America’s schools.

The data was released after a protracted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

See the State ASVAB Databases and the National Database.

The DoD’s Freedom of Information office reports that 678,000 students participated in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP) during the 2012-2013 school year, down nearly 10% from the previous school year. The three-hour test is the linchpin of the Pentagon’s school-based recruiting program and provides the Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) an invaluable tool in prescreening candidates for military service.

The ASVAB is the military’s entrance exam that is given to fresh recruits to determine their aptitude for various military occupations. Since 1968 the test has also been used as a recruiting tool in high schools. It’s used by USMEPCOM to gain sensitive, personal information on high school students, the vast majority of whom are under the age of 18. Students typically take the test at school without parental consent and often without parental knowledge.

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America's Child Soldiers

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Ann Jones -

Article image

Congress surely meant to do the right thing when, in the fall of 2008, it passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA). The law was designed to protect kids worldwide from being forced to fight the wars of Big Men. From then on, any country that coerced children into becoming soldiers was supposed to lose all U.S. military aid.

It turned out, however, that Congress -- in its rare moment of concern for the next generation -- had it all wrong. In its greater wisdom, the White House found countries like Chad and Yemen so vital to the national interest of the United States that it preferred to overlook what happened to the children in their midst.

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ADDICTED To WAR

comixADDICTED To WAR takes on the most active, powerful and destructive military in the world. It tells the history of U.S. foreign wars - from the Indian Wars to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - in a comic book format.

Get connected to youth counter recruitment activists all over the country. Check out DMZ: A Guide to Taking Your School Back from the Military an organizing guide for high school students interested in keeping the military out of our schools. We offer counter recruitment workshops and trainings for students, activists, and educators on a regular basis. Email wrl@warresisters.org for more information. From Ya-Ya Network & War Resisters League

Demilitarizing Life & Land

FOR Life & LandThe Fellowship of Reconciliation pursues a vision of a free and “demilitarized” world in which the Earth’s resources sustain life and promote the well-being of all people. To do so, we challenge economic exploitation, work to eradicate racism and religious intolerance, and call attention to imperialistic U.S. foreign policy. As we continue to speak truth to power, FOR engages in an ongoing interfaith dialogue to shift the collective unconscious from a fear-based military culture to a peaceful world community grounded in faith and nonviolent justice. At the start of 2011, we launched a series of projects, campaigns, and collaborations to demilitarize life and land in the Americas and the Middle East.

Know Before You Go, 'Cause There's No Reset Button

wrl_yaya_pampletKnow Before You Go, 'Cause There's No Reset Button is a collaboration with the Ya-Ya Network (Youth Activists-Youth Allies), a youth of color-led antimilitarist organization based in NYC.

Our leaflet breaks down the enlistment contract and life in the military and provides new stats about sexual assault in the military, racial disparities in becoming an officer, and stop-loss.

Written to be accessible to everyone while providing the most important info for making a fully informed choice about joining the military, this leaflet will be a staple for counter-recruiters.

See Details and Download

Available at War Resisters League

Hollywood Warfare: How the Pentagon Censors the Movies

Thinking of joining the U.S. Military to gain citizenship?

¿PENSANDO EN ALISTARTE PARA OBTENER LA CIUDADANÍA ESTADOUNIDENSE?"¿PIENSAS QUE EL ENROLARTE EN LAS FUERZAS ARMADAS TE GARANTIZA LA CIUDADANIA?"
intended for non-citizens looking to join the military for immigration benefits, to let them know what to be aware of immigration-wise before approaching a recruiter.
Print Size: 8½ x 14 (double sided)
(Designed to be printed with Spanish and English back-to-back)

Homepage: http://www.projectyano.org

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