Before You Enlist Video -
Researching Pop Culture and Militarism -
If you have been Harassed by a Military Recruiter -
War: Turning now to Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson - Christian Science Monitor
Click through to find out
Religion and militarism -
‘A Poison in the System’: Military Sexual Assault - New York Times
Change your Mind?
Talk to a Counselor at the GI Rights Hotline
Ask that your child's information is denied to Military Recruiters
And monitor that this request is honored.
Military Recruiters and Programs Target marginalized communities for recruits...
..and the high schools in those same communities

 Militarization of our Schools

The Pentagon is taking over our poorer public schools. This is the reality for disadvantaged youth.


What we can do

Corporate/conservative alliances threaten Democracy . Progressives have an important role to play.

 Why does NNOMY matter?

Most are blind or indifferent to the problem.
A few strive to protect our democracy.


Statewide ASVAB campaign



A tutorial

This step-by-step guide is meant to aid activists in their legislative campaigns to prohibit the automatic release of test results to military recruiters gathered through the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) in the public high schools.

The steps outlined here, largely drawn from our experience in Maryland, can be used as a general template for counter-recruitment activists across the country.

We recommend you study everything on this site pertaining to the ASVAB (including a cursory examination of military documents) and read through the entire contents of this comprehensive website: before proceeding.  Study is critical because much of this campaign revolves around educating school officials, political allies, and legislators.  The military, for its part, has embarked on a very clever and persuasive misinformation campaign.  See the "ASVAB in the News" section of the website for more on DoD attempts to obfuscate the true nature of the ASVAB program in the public schools.
(Update: Not the case in September 2022: See ASVAB Enlistment Testing Program)

The first step is to form a loose-knit coalition of allies and give it a name that has something to do with protecting the privacy of children;  like, "The ________ Coalition to Protect Student Privacy."  "Peace" and "Justice" are polarizing words in statehouses across the country so you'll want to be careful not to associate your campaign with activist groups that might insist on asserting an anti-military or left-wing agenda.

You'll run across school officials and legislators who are convinced the ASVAB is an excellent career exploration tool that has its place in the public schools.  Concede the point.  You can allow that the program might help young people negotiate career paths.  You're not against the ASVAB; however, you feel strongly that test results should not be automatically forwarded to military recruiters.

Once you've formed your "coalition," which may start out as a couple of activists in town (or just yourself), you'll need to begin building your coalition by contacting your natural allies in this struggle. Call your local ACLU affiliate and ask them for advice.  See if they can help you craft legislation.  Ask them who they think might be willing to introduce the bill in your state's House and Senate. Send them the excellent letter written by the ACLU-MD in support of Maryland's legislation.  You should also send them Maryland's new law.

Your state is likely to have some sort of institutionalized progressive political entity like a progressive Democratic caucus.  Contact them and see if they can help.  They're likely to be in a position to know which legislators are the best candidates to carry the water.  Be careful not to fall into the trap of agreeing to have the legislature's most progressive member, the token radical, be the lead sponsor.  You're going to need conservative Democratic votes and even a few Republican votes.

In your conversations with these folks, try to determine the likely path your legislation will have to travel to make it to the governor's desk. Identify the specific committees and subcommittees you'll most likely be dealing with and examine the voting records of members before approaching them or having others approach them.   It's very helpful to have co-sponsors sit on crucial committees.  It's a real coup to have a committee chairperson agree to sponsor or co-sponsor the bill!  Committee chairs are often incredibly powerful and it's tough (though not impossible) getting legislation to the floor if they're strongly opposed.

Call your local NAACP Unit (archived) and ask them for their advice and support.  Do a cursory evaluation of the ASVAB Database of high schools that administer the test in your state. Try to ascertain the racial make-up of schools that administer the ASVAB.  The ASVAB is more likely to be administered in communities of color than in predominately white areas.  Share the testimony of the NAACP-MD urging parental involvement in decisions relating to the release of student information to the Pentagon.

You should call your state affiliate of the National PTA.  In Maryland, the PTA came through in a big way.  During the PTA testimony in the General Assembly, a PTA spokesperson argued that parents, rather than the Pentagon, should be empowered to make decisions regarding the release of student information to recruiters. In contrast, the Army's top recruiter argued that the Pentagon should make these decisions, rather than "influencers," DoD talk for parents.

You should also contact your NEA state affiliate (archived) to see if they'd be willing to support your legislation. The National Education Association has not taken a position on the ASVAB, although a piece in the publication NEA Today describes the controversy and explains Options 1 through 8.  NEA leadership has explained that the issue is not specifically related to the NEA's purview.

It is advisable to send a letter to your state superintendent of schools asking that she immediately select Option 8 for all students across the state who take the ASVAB. See the Template Letter to State Superintendents.  It is unlikely that your state superintendent will act to mandate this change because these types of decisions are typically left to local education agencies. It is important, however, to know where this office stands in relation to your legislation.  Your legislature will be reluctant to enact legislation if it is opposed by the state superintendent.  If your superintendent takes no position on your bill, it may be viewed as a green light in some quarters.

Getting a bill introduced

Throughout this process, you should be seriously considering whom you'd like to ask to submit legislation.  It may be helpful to have a constituent of a legislator make an appointment and have you attend the meeting. Legislators are much more willing to act on behalf of people who live in their districts.  Once you've settled on lawmakers in both houses to sponsor your legislation, it's advisable to hold a strategy session to formulate a plan of action.  Your legislator is likely to ask you to help her find co-sponsors for the legislation.  For instance, see Maryland's House Bill 176 and view the delegates who were willing to sign on to the bill before it was introduced.

Once your bill is introduced, there may be a window of time when you're still able to add additional co-sponsors.  It is best not to have too many legislators from one or two extremely liberal jurisdictions co-sponsor the bill because it may be viewed by moderates to signify a left-wing proposal.  If possible, try to find a few Republicans to sign on.

Leave the press out of it. There's no point in giving your opposition a heads up.

Your bill will be assigned to committees in each house that will schedule hearings.  Obtain a list of committee members and send them each a letter similar to the letter sent to the superintendent of schools.  Include in the letter the names of all of the public schools in the legislative district that administer the ASVAB, along with the Recruiter Release Options selected. Most likely, the vast majority of students who took the test in the particular jurisdiction had their test results automatically forwarded to recruiters. Note that you're only concerned with public schools that administer the test.  You'll have to create a spreadsheet of all the schools in your state that give the test and remove the private schools before sorting them into legislative districts to generate letters to individual lawmakers. You should deliver your letter by regular mail, by email, and you should hand carry it to the office of each committee member.

It is also advisable to create succinct bullet points and distribute them to lawmakers on several occasions. You can never overdo it.  Educating lawmakers is your key to success.

At this point, you should schedule appointments to meet with all committee members. This part is time consuming, but it is possible to meet with as many as 10 to 15 legislators in a day.  You'll only need about 20 minutes of their time.  Go over the bullet points with the legislators and discuss how the test is given at such-and-such high school in the particular district.   See if you can find folks from various peace and justice groups or through your contacts with the organizations listed above who would be willing to accompany you in the meetings. Again, it helps, although it is not necessary, to have constituents make the appointments and accompany you to the meetings.

Legislation is made in committees and it is rare for a bill to receive a favorable report in committee and be voted down on the floor.

Lobbying for the bill

We strongly encourage you set up an automated system that allows constituents across your state to click on a link that brings them to a page that briefly explains the issue and guides them through a simple process that generates letters of support to their legislators. Activists in Maryland were able to generate close to a thousand emails, with many directed to committee members whose votes were crucial. Your political allies may be willing to share contact information with some of their membership.  Phone calls from constituents to committee members are invaluable in this process. It helps to regularly send messages to list-serves, blogs, websites, and Facebook, sending people the link to the automated system to generate emails to lawmakers.

When a bill is heard in committee, those in favor and those opposed are invited to provide written and spoken testimony.  Speakers are usually limited to a few minutes. It is possible that the militarists will not be present to oppose the legislation, especially if the measure has stayed out of the press. It's possible your bill may attract a letter from the commanding officer of your local Military Entrance Processing Station, as it did in Maryland. This could be helpful because the military is arguing that the Pentagon, rather than parents, should ultimately determine the release of student information.  Activists in Maryland circulated the letters written by the Maryland PTA, which argued in favor of allowing parents to make decisions regarding the release of information pertaining to their children, and the Lt. Colonel in charge of recruiting, who didn't think that was such a good idea.  Most legislators were convinced the measure was necessary and the law passed.

A good lineup of people testifying in committees hearing the bill would consist of an official from a school or a school system that has selected Option 8 and representatives from the NAACP, ACLU, PTA, your local teacher's union, your state's progressive political entity, a student who has taken the ASVAB without realizing its tie-in with recruiting, and an unhappy parent.  You should lead the parade.

As soon as a committee in one of the houses approves the measure, you ought to distribute a brief statement to all legislators in both houses that includes a mention of the victory along with a few of the most pertinent bullet points.

At this point, the Pentagon and its allies in the legislature may be expected to engage in a behind-the-scenes public misinformation campaign aimed at questioning the necessity of the Option 8 bill.

They may argue that Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act gives parents and students the ability to withhold ASVAB test results from military recruiters. It does not.

The militarists may argue the ASVAB program is completely voluntary and that students who take the test can sign a form that precludes their results from reaching recruiters.

The test may, in fact, be required in some schools and/or strongly encouraged in others, but, in either case, results are being automatically shipped to recruiters.  Also, the bogus Privacy Act Statement found on the ASVAB Answer Sheet in use in schools throughout the country informs students they must sign the form for their test to be graded. Legal experts claim this aspect of the testing regime runs counter to both federal and state laws designed to protect the privacy of students.  Students who take the ASVAB do not select release options — only school officials can do that.

Once the legislation passes its assigned committees and is sent to the floor for a vote, it is crucial to continue sending all members relatively brief items that address the legislation. If there are any new letters in opposition, they should be widely distributed and all misstatements should be identified.  Similarly, erroneous reporting in the press should be immediately challenged with letters to the editor that are shared with legislators.

During this fragile time period, it's important to be working closely with those who've sponsored your legislation. Sometimes they'll ask you to refrain from contacting a particular member or to refrain from sending literature. Generally, you should defer to their wishes.  They know the legislature.  You know the ASVAB.

As soon as the legislation is introduced, you should make an appointment to meet with the governor's legislative assistant to explain the rationale behind the bill and to ask for the governor's support.  When the legislation passes both houses, it is wise to make a second appointment with the governor's office.  If the governor appears to be wavering in her support, you should generate hundreds of letter in support of the legislation.

At any time you may consult with NNOMY for advice.  This is a winnable campaign!


Revised: 09-21-2022

Organizing a campaign in schools to require option 8


A brief tutorial


Organizing a campaign to require the selection of ASVAB Release Option 8 in your local school system is a not a terribly difficult or time consuming endeavor.  It's something you can do to check the advance of the military in your schools. (This campaign may be used to lay the groundwork for organizing a statewide campaign to require option 8.)

You can do this by yourself, but, if you feel more comfortable, you can work with an established peace and justice organization or you can form your own ASVAB ad hoc committee. It's probably best to de-emphasize any public association with stridently political antimilitary, antiwar groups.  To be successful, this campaign should be about student privacy. You're not embarking on a revolutionary movement.

We recommend you study everything on this site pertaining to the ASVAB (including a cursory examination of military documents) and read through the entire contents of this comprehensive website: before proceeding.  Study is critical because much of this campaign revolves around educating school officials and political allies. The military, for its part, has embarked on a very clever and persuasive misinformation campaign.  See the "ASVAB in the News" section of the website for more on DoD attempts to obfuscate the true nature of the ASVAB program in the public schools.

You'll run across school officials and legislators who are convinced the ASVAB is an excellent career exploration tool that has its place in the public schools.  Concede the point.  You can allow that the program might help young people negotiate career paths.  You're not against the ASVAB; however, you feel strongly that test results should not be automatically forwarded to military recruiters.

For the most part, you'll be interacting with school officials from your community who probably haven't given the issue much thought — or any thought at all. School personnel deal with hundreds of concerned parents and activists on a wide variety of issues every day.  Remember all this when it takes your superintendent two months to respond to your letter.


Research local ASVAB testing

After studying the resources identified above, you should create a spreadsheet of all the high schools in your district that administer the ASVAB, using the ASVAB Database of high schools that give the test in your state.

Once you've compiled the data, identify any schools where the number of test takers exceeds 150-200 students. This is your clue that the test is mandatory in a particular school.  Mandatory testing a particularly vulnerable practice to challenge, so it's a good place to start.  The school's principal, the superintendent, and school board members would all have to be to the right of Attila the Hun if they defend the practice of forcing children to take a military test that forwards Social Security numbers, career plans, detailed demographic information, and 3 hours of test results to the Pentagon without parental consent.

You can find schools in your state and in your school system that require students to take the ASVAB by googling the following terms.  We've used Aberdeen County, South Dakota as an example. To search for mandatory testing in South Dakota, enter exactly this in your Internet search engine:  "" "all juniors" asvab . To search for mandatory testing in Aberdeen County, South Dakota, enter: "" "all juniors" asvab . Make sure you enter the quotation marks.  You can experiment with the "all juniors" part.  Not only did Central High School require all juniors to take the ASVAB, you can see from the ASVAB database that Central High tested 218 and sent all the results to the Pentagon without parental consent.

If you uncover a school that requires the ASVAB — and 1,055 high schools in 28 states across the country required students to take the test in 2007 — you should try to identify parents in that school to lead the charge.  Certainly, you should include a mention of all schools that have mandatory testing in your letter to the superintendent of schools.

It helps to have a child enrolled in the schools, but it's not necessary. You pay for the schools.  They're yours. You can start your campaign with your local high school, but it makes a lot more sense to expend your energy at the district level.  Schools are curious political fiefdoms and principals often have extraordinary autonomy in formulating and implementing policy.  Principals may be retired Marine Officers and they may be Quaker pacifists.  You should know how your local school handles the administration of the ASVAB and the recruiter release option it selected.  You should have conversations with the principal and the director of guidance, not so much to attempt to convince them to select Option 8, but simply to ascertain the status quo.

The formulation of policy is typically more diffuse at the district level, depending upon the size of your system.  More people are involved in the process, so it is more likely that divergent political views will be heard. Certainly this is the case with members of the board of education.  Aside from the most reactionary communities, you're likely to have several members of your school board agree with you.  Unfortunately, school boards aren't typically involved in the day-to-day implementation and enforcement of policies. School boards typically function to hire and fire superintendents and approve budgets, and that's about it.  That's not to say they don't have influence over your superintendent — they do — but often it's the superintendent, not the school board, that holds the cards.

Examine our Template Letter to the Superintendent of Schools.  You need to fill in the blanks on this form using the ASVAB Database.  Complete your letter and share it with NNOMY volunteers before sending it to your superintendent with copies to all school board members.   Your campaign is halfway home.

A few days after sending your letter, you should call the administrative offices to make sure it has been received.  Explain what you're trying to accomplish to the administrative assistant on the phone.  See if you can gain any insight from the aide.  Ask her who you should talk to in the system about selecting Option 8 for students who take the ASVAB.  Most likely, you'll be re-directed to the administrative assistant of an Assistant Superintendent.  Explain your issue and ask for an appointment.  Summer is often a great time to approach these "12 month" employees.  They're typically swamped in September.  See if you can get an appointment with your superintendent and see what she says.  It could be easier than you thought.

Most likely, your superintendent will be too busy and she'll take several weeks to get back to you. It's unlikely she'll come back and say she's opposed to the selection of Option 8. It's more likely she'll thank you for the letter and promise the issue will be studied.  Or, she'll write that these types of decisions are made at the individual schools.  Principals make up an important part of a superintendent's power base and the superintendent who leaves policy decisions at the local level is usually popular with school principals.

If the response from your superintendent stops short of ordering the selection of Option 8 across the system, you should send letters to each of the system's principals with cc's to the director of guidance in each of the schools.  The letter should summarize the response you received from the superintendent and restate the contents of your original letter to the superintendent.

You probably won't hear back from any of the principals unless you have parents approach the principal who have children in that particular school.  One-on-one meetings with principals and parents are very persuasive.


Now it's time to go public with your demand

Your board of education probably allows members of the public 3-5 minutes to comment on any item pertaining to the schools.  This is your opportunity to shine.  Determine the procedures for public commentary and organize a half dozen folks to each speak on a certain aspect of the ASVAB.  It would be fantastic to have someone with the PTA leadership in your community speak on behalf of selecting Option 8.  Similarly, it would be very persuasive to also have members of other civic groups, like the NAACP, the ACLU, and your local teacher's union, but there will probably be an opportunity for them later, when the ASVAB is on the school board's agenda.

Have all testimony in written form distributed to all board members and members of the press.  Be calm and stay away from any statements that might be construed as antimilitary.  You could distribute Maryland's law and/or copies of Option 8 policies in Los Angeles or New York City.

Stay away from partisan politics.  There is a pervasive culture in some quarters that does not allow criticism of the Department of Defense.  Each of your speakers should say we have nothing but praise for the men and women of our armed forces — or something like that.

Prepare statements for the press during the board meeting.  Collect their contact information and supply them with updates throughout the process. Organize your core of activists to write letters to the local newspaper about ASVAB testing.  Don't take a swipe at your school board or your superintendent, even if you have been treated poorly. Maintain the high ground throughout. You may have to micromanage what your activists wear to the school board meeting.  Blue jeans and T-shirts don't cut it.

Hopefully, the school board will include the ASVAB on the agenda of its next meeting.  If that's the case, they may ask you to produce several people to testify on behalf of the proposed policy change. That's when you want to bring out the representatives from various civic organizations, especially the PTA. Signs of protest and loud outbursts are counter-productive.

Make sure you distribute all testimony, along with copies of relevant pages of military documents.

At this point we encourage you to set up an automated system* that allows constituents in your school system to click on a link that brings them to a page that explains the issue and guides them through a simple process that generates letters urging the selection of Option 8 to the superintendent and members of the school board. You should use list servs, blogs, websites, Facebook, etc. to drive traffic to the website that generates letters.  You'll want to keep track of the number of letters you've received and who wrote them.

On the day of the school board meeting, when the ASVAB is officially discussed, put out a brief press release with a few statements describing your position.  Distribute it to local and statewide media outlets, including radio and TV stations.  Point out that you're not opposed to the administration of the test; instead it's the automatic release of student information without parental consent that is problematic.  Explain that students will still be able to take the ASVAB in school but that they (or their parents) will have to initiate contact with recruiters afterward if they intend to use the results of the test for enlistment purposes.

On the evening of the school board meeting, military representatives will probably be on hand to defend the ASVAB.  If it's possible, let them go first and try to rebut their statements, especially if any are patently false.   The military officers probably won't mention the practice of shipping test results to recruiters without parental consent.  It's your job to point out their omission.  It's helpful to be in possession of copies of the military documents, especially USMEPCOM 601-4 to refute the statements of the military officer.

Be on guard if a decision is made to require parents to sign a form for students to take the test, rather than the selection of Option 8.  Simply requiring parental permission for students taking the ASVAB — instead of applying Option 8 to all students — creates added costs and responsibilities that would be imposed on schools and school staff if they had to gather permissions and monitor which students' data must be withheld. School staff might then fail to implement the requirement. ASVAB Option 8, on the other hand, entails no financial cost, administrative time, or legal risk for schools; it allows schools to continue using the test if they wish; and it addresses the issues of student privacy and parent custodial rights.

When talking to the press, instruct your colleagues to stick to your chief concern about the administration of the test — the release of confidential student information to recruiters without parental consent.  Don't be drawn into statements about the military, military recruiters, or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.  This is a campaign about student privacy.

Throughout the process, we encourage you to consult with NNOMY volunteers in your state and across the country who have been successful in convincing school officials to select Option 8.



Revised 09/21/2022

Counter Recruiter Access to High Schools


North Carolina Peace Action member Sally Ferrell is pictured at her Wilkes County, N.C., home, April, 23, 2008Equal access refers to the lawful activity of countering military recruitment inside high schools. It is not the only way to reach and educate young people who are targeted for military recruitment, but it is an effective way to counter military recruitment where it is having a major impact.

Equal access for non-students is explained in the 1986 ruling in San Diego Committee v. Governing Board of Grossmont Union High School District [790 F.2d 1471 (9th Cir.1986)]. In simple terms, equal access rests on the principle that once a government agency creates a forum for expressive activity on a controversial topic, access to the forum can be limited only so long as it is reasonable and not a façade for viewpoint-based discrimination. If the presentation of one point of view has been allowed, the forum must also be opened to those with an opposing view on the same topic.

Key document: see “Using Equal Access to Counter Militarism in High Schools.”

The above document explains the following:

In the effort to counter the military in secondary schools, three main organizing models have developed:

· Educational activities organized in schools by students themselves (e.g. clubs and campaigns). Students have the right to speak out on issues in their schools whether or not the other side has already been presented. For more on students’ rights, including some legal limitations, see Guide to High School Students' Rights.

· Educational outreach conducted by students and/or non-students outside of official school channels (e.g. by leafleting on public property at school entrances). This does not require an equal access argument, though expressive activities on public property can be controlled by reasonable regulation.

· Attempts by non-students to get information to young people through the school system itself. This approach can sometimes require educating school personnel about the principle of equal access and forums on government property.

What triggers the right to equal access?

To establish equal access, an existing forum on the topic of military enlistment must be identified. Examples would be if military representatives were allowed to:

  • Speak in classrooms or at assemblies,
  • Place recruitment materials in career centers, counseling offices, libraries or on bulletin boards,
  • Place ads in student newspapers,
  • Staff information tables at career/college fairs or in lunch areas,
  • Approach students in lunch areas, hallways, etc.,
  • Visit the school with special mobile recruiting vehicles,
  • Give the ASVAB test.

When these and other forums have been granted to military representatives, those with an opposing view have a legal right to the same access to students.

What speech content is allowed with equal school access?

· Speech content that fits within the specific topic of the forum that has been established is legally allowed; for example, explaining the possible negative consequences of military enlistment and realities of the job, including war.

· Distributing a general anti-war message or information that is not directly related to what recruiters are saying would technically be outside the forum and could possibly be excluded.

Should I use legal threats to gain access?

This is a very complicated question that cannot be answered easily here, except to say that the courts are generally willing to overlook our constitutional rights when it comes to defending the ability of the military to recruit. Those who have been doing this work for a long time—including some who have used litigation—have learned that it’s more effective to reach out to students in ways that avoid threats of litigation; for example, by going initially to teachers and counselors, or seeking to reach students outside of school, rather than going straight to administrators or governing boards. Read more about the reasons for this in “Using Equal Access…,” and contact Project YANO for advice from those who have been involved in litigation and also learned to gain access without it.


 Revised 11/11/2019


School Based Counter Recruitment

Stop Military Recruitment in our schoolsThe military has maximized its presence and influence in the educational system by seeking the widest possible access to classrooms, school career centers, counseling offices, student records, student newspapers and even elementary school playgrounds.

In the effort to counter militarism in schools, a number of approaches have been developed: Some are organized bv students themselves, some by non-students, and some by students and non-student allies working together. Strategies have ranged from educating individual students about the realities of military enlistment and their other options, to working for policy changes that will reduce the military’s presence in schools and increase student exposure to non-military options.

This section is a portal to topics and information relating to these different strategies and approaches.

Here are some recommended links available to better inform you as a student. This is a work in progress and NNOMY will be adding new documents as they are prepared and as policies change that effect enlistment. Check back periodically.


Organizations you should know:


Articles on the web:

Revised: 10-11-19

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The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) is supported by individual contributions and a grant by the Craigslist Charitable Fund - 2023 Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. NNOMY websites are hosted by The Electric Embers Coop.

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