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The Military Invasion of My High School: The role of JROTC

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Sylvia McGauley -

“Will you please write me a letter of recommendation for the Navy, Ms. McGauley? You’re my best class.” Thanh was enrolled in the recently established Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) at our high school and he, like many of my students, was enamored with the military’s alluring promises of a magic carpet ride away from poverty and uncertainty.

Air Force JROTC students from Buena Park High School, Coronado, California, 2006.  U.S. Navy photo by Hermes CrespoMy heart ripped as I listened to Thanh’s plea. I want to do what is best for my kids. I want to support and honor them in making their own informed decisions. But, given the impact of JROTC at our school, I felt very uneasy about the balance of information students like Thanh were receiving about enlistment in the U.S. military. After much discussion with Thanh, I wrote an honest letter, emphasizing his sensitive poetic nature and his commitment to fairness. The Navy eagerly welcomed him.

The sprawling campus of Reynolds High School (RHS), the second largest high school in Oregon, rests atop a ridge at the entrance to the scenic Columbia River Gorge in tiny Troutdale, 17 miles east of downtown Portland. When I first started teaching here 23 years ago, Reynolds was an almost all white, working-class, conservative, sub-rural community, culturally distinct from its larger urban neighbor. As Portland has become more gentrified, lower rents have attracted numerous low-income families—immigrant, African American, Latina/o, and white. Today, the Reynolds School District is a high-poverty, culturally diverse district with two of the poorest elementary schools in the state—perfect prey for military recruiters who win points for filling the coffers of the poverty draft.

During the Vietnam War era, much was written about JROTC’s role in teaching military training; today JROTC high school (and even middle school) programs incorporate a broader curricular agenda and are expanding rapidly. Yet, within the education community, little has been written about the implications and effects of JROTC in schools.


DeKalb Schools Military Catch Basin

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Michael Burke -

Cross Keys High SchoolAt least one DeKalb County high school that we know of is totally ignoring the 1987 and 1988 ruling of the Searcy v. Crim case decided by the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. With every misdeed and instance of corruption in past years, by the DeKalb Board of Education (BOE), one would think  our latest superintendent, Michael Thurmond, interim though he may be, would look into what's going on at Cross Keys HS and other county high schools.

Let us all have a fair accounting of what's really going on in our county schools -- do we own these schools or does the Pentagon?  Military recruiters are being given free reign of CKHS and we're hoping the new fulltime principal, Mr. Heard, will get a firm grip on this situation and diligently work
with Mr. Thurmond, by paying heed to the current violations of the court ruling outlined above.  Our organization is certainly not picking on CKHS alone, it's more like we're focusing on this school because of its' many violations of Searcy v. Crim over the years.  At the very least, we must have
a true accounting of why a detachment of three USMC recruiters were allowed into CKHS on the school's opening day?

Since then they've been back several times and so have we.  Army recruiters are not far behind in showing a presence.  Again on Thursday, September 18, Marine recruiters were actually pulling juniors and seniors out of their classrooms to check on the students' progress -- as in how ripe were these children for induction, training and deployment a year or two from now?  Yes, high school students are all children unless they have reached adulthood, which in Georgia is eighteen.

Unfortunately, the foregoing is not the entire story.  Searcy v. Crim specifically rules that if military personnel are permitted access to the school's annual career day then other groups and prospective employers will also be allowed to set up tables and distribute literature to students.  Yet here's another Catch 22 -- according to the head CKHS guidance counselor, Tanya Henderson, there is only one career day a year -- in November!


Counter-Recruitment Season

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Kevin Young -

Army of None“Counter-recruitment,” alternatively known as “truth-in-recruiting” or CR for brevity’s sake, involves providing young people and their parents with information about alternatives to military enlistment (college, vocational training, job opportunities, scholarships, etc.). At the same time, CR campaigns can provide a sense of the terrible realities of war by exposing students and parents to the words of soldiers, veterans, and foreign war victims. Since most military recruits enlist 1) because they see no other option, and/or 2) because they have a deluded and romantic view of war, the military, and US foreign policy, CR efforts can fill two important gaps in young people’s knowledge.

One of the lesser-known aspects of the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 is a provision requiring all public high schools to provide military recruiters with students’ private contact information. The only way to avoid the release of this information is to submit a signed “opt-out” form to school administrators every year by a district-specific deadline, usually sometime between mid-September and mid-October. School administrators are legally obliged to send the opt-out form home with students, but many do not, and often the forms get overlooked within the massive information packets sent home at the start of the school year. The months of August, September, and October are thus particularly crucial for CR efforts.

What follows is an analysis of the importance of counter-recruitment and a brief starters’ guide for those who might be inclined to engage in it this fall, with links to sample leaflets and educational information.


On My Son’s First Day of Kindergarten: organizes communities to defend their schools from NCLB

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Jesse Hagopian -

No to NCLBToday is the first day of school in Seattle. I have never been more excited and nervous for the first day because, not only do I start teaching, but my 5-year-old starts kindergarten! My son is so thrilled for his first day of school and our family feels so fortunate to have such a wonderful public school to send him to.

Unfortunately, the irreparably flawed No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has cast a shadow on what should be a joyous start to the year. As explained below, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan revoked the NCLB waiver for Washington state because our legislature would not tie teacher evaluations to test scores. Revoking the NCLB waiver then labeled nearly every school in the state a failure and mandated that districts notify parents that their child attends a failing school.

My son’s school is not a failure. The school where I teach is not a failure. It is the test-and-punish policy of NCLB that is failing.


The militarization of American public schools

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Steve Filips and Don Barrett -

Syracuse, New York’s Fowler High School to be “reformed”

Photo from the Syracuse City School District web site promoting the Military Science Academy
This fall, Syracuse, New York will join the still small but growing list of public schools dedicated to the training of students for military service in the United States Armed Forces.

This past April, the Syracuse Central School District (SCSD) approved the closure of Fowler High School in the city’s impoverished Westside section and its transformation into the Public Service Leadership Academy (PSLA), which will focus on training students for military service, to work in the Department of Homeland Security, or as police officers and firefighters.

There are 18 military academies as part of the public school system in the United States. Six are located in Chicago. All of these schools are associated with the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), whose goals include indoctrinating students with “patriotism,” “responsiveness to all authority” and an increasing “respect for the role of the US Armed Forces in support of national objectives.”

Most of these schools are located in working class and low-income communities and rely upon the lack of job and college options available to students to push them into the military.

The Westside section of Syracuse is one such area. It is a poverty-stricken area of the city that has been struggling with increasing inequality in the Obama “economic recovery,” and staggering levels of poverty, particularly among children. Childhood poverty approaches 50 percent and for those in the 18-24 year age bracket—those just out of high school—the rate approaches two thirds. (See: “Syracuse, New York housing in shambles” and “Deindustrialization and unemployment in Syracuse, New York”)


Drones Are a Military Recruiting Issue

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Seth Kershner  -

16 CFES Scholars were among the 92 middle school students nationwide who spent three days at the United States Military Academy at West Point last week for the summer STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) WorkshopOver the past several years, activists have fought against the use of unmanned aircraft (commonly called “drones”) to carry out targeted killings in the war on terror. Anti-drone activists have aimed their protests at a number of different targets. They have condemned university research on drone technology (e.g., at Johns Hopkins), held spirited public demonstrations at launch sites (e.g., outside Hancock Air Force Base in upstate New York), and they have pursued more traditional forms of political lobbying. However, their strategy so far has failed to address the ways in which the public, including children, are taught to uncritically embrace this technology. In this article, I will call attention to the previously unreported use of drone simulators in Army recruiting vans and begin a discussion about how to resist their steady march across America.

The fleet of vehicles in the Army’s Mobile Exhibit Command (MEC) form a powerful weapon in the Army’s recruiting arsenal. A unit of the U.S. Army Accessions Support Brigade, the MEC helps meet the brigade’s mission of “ Connecting America’s Army with America’s People.” Their job is to normalize state violence, including drone warfare, and in FY2013, the recruiters driving these vehicles logged more than 600,000 miles traveling to schools, universities, state fairs, and other events in 48 states. What follows is a brief look at three vehicles from the MEC -- in particular, those that help children learn to love the Reaper.

The oldest of the three vehicles, the Army Aviation Adventure van, debuted in May 2002. Inside this converted 18-wheeler, van visitors will find Army careers kiosks, along with an ammunition display and an array of weapons simulators designed to immerse the visitor in real-life experiences. These include an Apache Flight Simulator, a Kiowa Warrior Flight Simulator, and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Simulator, which, according to one source, is based on the Hunter drone. While the high school and college market is the van’s primary target, a quick review of news stories on the Web turned up one report of a nine-year-old trying out the van’s simulators.


Pay No Attention to the Apocalypse Behind the Curtain

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David Swanson - Remarks in London, England, July 2, 2014

World Beyond WarThank you to Bruce Kent and the Movement for the Abolition of War and to Veterans For Peace and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Thank you to the Stop the War Coalition and everyone else for helping spread the word.

In 8 days, on July 10th Mary Ann Grady-Flores, a grandmother from Ithaca, NY, is scheduled to be sentenced to up to one year in prison.  Her crime is violating an order of protection, which is a legal tool to protect a particular person from the violence of another particular person.  In this case, the commander of Hancock Air Base has been legally protected from dedicated nonviolent protesters, despite the protection of commanding his own military base, and despite the protesters having no idea who the guy is.  That’s how badly the people in charge of the flying killer robots we call drones want to avoid any questioning of their activity entering the minds of the drone pilots.

Last Thursday a place in the U.S. called the Stimson Center released a report on the new U.S. habit of murdering people with missiles from drones.  The Stimson Center is named for Henry Stimson, the U.S. Secretary of War who, prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor wrote in his diary, following a meeting with President Roosevelt: “The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. It was a difficult proposition.” (Four months earlier, Churchill had told his cabinet at 10 Downing Street that U.S. policy toward Japan consisted of this: “Everything was to be done to force an incident.”)  This was the same Henry Stimson who later forbid dropping the first nuclear bomb on Kyoto, because he’d once been to Kyoto. He’d never visited Hiroshima, much to the misfortune of the people of Hiroshima.


School violence: a result of bad parenting or militarism?

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Charles ‘Andy’ Williams, a 15-year old student from Santana High School sits with his attorney Randy Mize during his arraignment for murder in the death of two fellow students at the California Superior Court in El Cajon, California 07 March, 2001. Two students were killed and 13 wounded when he opened fire in a boys bathroom in the school March 5, 2001.High profile school shootings in the US have been the inspiration for much popular discussion about the causes of youth violence in recent years, with everyone—from bad parents and corrupt teachers, to rock stars—being blamed. Rick Jahnkow argues that while the motivation for such shootings may be complex, one causal factor in particular is being ignored—militarism.

Rick Jahnkow - (Reposted from a 2001 feature in the United Kindom's Peace News in light of the increase and regularity of school shootings now being experienced in the United States.)

When a student takes a gun to school and goes on a shooting rampage—as one 15-year-old is charged with doing in a community near me in California— the public immediately expresses its shock and confusion over how such a thing could ever occur.

Educators, politicians, and the mental health professionals who are called upon to deal with tragedies of this sort all struggle to come up with a plausible explanation. Usually, their attention focuses on narrow, individualistic conditions that might provoke such a violent outburst. The American Psychological Association's brochure, Warning Signs of Teen Violence , advises us that factors which contribute to teen violence include:


ALERT: Proposal to Make Draft Registration Mandatory for a Driver’s License Moves through the California Legislature

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Proposal to Make Draft Registration Mandatory for a Driver’s License Moves through the California Legislature

Alert: Contact your California State RepresentativeLETTERS TO SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE NEEDED IMMEDIATELY! California’s large population has one of the lowest Selective Service registration rates in the country, which helps make a return to the draft less likely. Selective Service, however, is asking the California state legislature to boost registration compliance by making it mandatory in order to receive a California driver’s license. This proposal, which failed on five previous occasions, recently passed the state Assembly. It is now being considered by the state Senate.

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 is now waiting to for a hearing by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.

ACTION CALIFORNIANS CAN TAKE: Immediately send letters to the Transportation and Housing Committee. We’ve included a set of updated talking points to consider when writing to legislators. NOTE: Send faxes, if possible, since regular mail is now slowed by capitol security checks. Write to:

Senate Transportation and Housing Committee

State Capitol, Room 2209

Sacramento, California 95814

Phone (916) 651-4121, fax (916) 445-2209

Note that messages sent to the above will be seen by key committee staff.


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NNOMY Reader

Tooltip Learning the Issues about Youth Demilitarization

NNOMY ReaderThe NNOMY Reader is a useful primer to learn about the realities of military recruitment, the militarism effecting our youth in schools and our opportunities for peaceful coexistance. This collection of articles represents a historical overview of the U.S. based counter-recruitment movement's strategies to inform and intervene in schools and the community about the Pentagon's multi-billion dollar programs to recruit America's youth into escalating wars. The NNOMY Reader also includes some information on alternatives to enlistment, as well as research presented by activists and investigators on the nature and risks of cultural militarization and how it  threatens our democracy. Learn more

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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.

DMZ: A Guide

DMZ GuideGet 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 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.

What Every Girl Should Know About the US Military

What Every Girl Should Know About the US MilitaryWhat Every Girl Should Know About the US Military/
Lo Que Toda Chica Debe Saber Sobre la Milicia de EE.UU.

Written for girls, queer and trans youth, youth of color and poor youth, this newly redesigned full-color What Every Girl Should Know About the U.S. Military brochure is focused on sexual & gender-based violence: perfect for distributing at schools & community centers. Available in English and in Spanish: Lo Que Toda Chica Debe Saber Sobre la Milicia de EE.UU. - by War Resisters' League

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?

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)


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