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.


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

Share this

FacebookTwitterStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditLinkedInRSS FeedPinterestInstagramSnapchat
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.

Gonate time or money to demilitarize our public schools



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues connected with militarism and resistance. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Contact NNOMY


The National Network Opposing

the Militarization of youth
San Diego Peace Campus

3850 Westgate Place
San Diego, California 92105 U.S.A.  +1 619 798 8335
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12 Noon till 5pm PST
Skype: nnomy.demilitarization

Mobile Menu