Conversation with Rickover Cadets on Facebook

Gary Ghirardi -

Chicago military acadamiesRarely do conditions line up like this for NNOMY but a recent article that appeared in Yahoo News about Rickover public military academy, in Chicago, that included an interview with Jesus Palafox from our steering committee, got posted as a promoted post on NNOMY's Facebook page and the cadets from the school converged on the posting with their group outrage. But a conversation took place. Below are a selection of student comments to the Yahoo article including my responses done as best as I could with available time in a series of a few days. The conversation from the student side reveals more about how the education and the thinking that is coming out of the new militarized public charter schools is forming young minds. The time of the Vietnamization of war is truly over and the voices in this program represent a new generation of militarized youth. For them, the military is again an adventure, and an opportunity where no other seems available. The instinct to challenge this type of path for their lives seems not present but rather a condemnation of their generation. It reminds me, in part, of the era of my own father during the Korean War.

Youngbastion Velez Post like this make me sick your using pictures of cadets from our school to spread lies. No matter what jrotc program you choose their goal is the same, create better citizens not brainwash us. Recruiters are the ones that brainwash people and their not even allowed in our building. Honestly I've always wanted a career in the military I've wanted to be a chaplain in the military and since I really like boats I'm decided to become a chaplain in the navy. Stop with these lies military schools aren't trying to make soldiers their trying to make a better citizen out of the shitty kids in this generation.

NNOMY It is time for the department of education to fulfill a mandate for creating a disciplined environment and direction for young lives. These programs are designed to create opportunities for the military to increase military enrollment. The secretary of defense has stated this and the statistics support this. What they tell you in the program is not that the program is a recruitment program. Get real. If it is not for recruitment then why are they saying it is! Are poor and disadvantaged kids only good for this approach? And you are all settling for this? Try harder!

Youngbastion Velez You really are a sad bunch of people me poor you must have me mistaken I'm not poor. I choose Rickover not because I wanted to enlist but because it was a better school. And you say the secretary of defense has stated this but if you knew anything the secretary of what ever branch of military the program is in, is in charge. Secretary of desense knows nothing of our programs because it's not the sectarian of defenses job.and disadvantaged most students at Rickover are incredibly smart. Your facts aren't true and wherever you get them from should be put out of business. It would be ashamed if you were sued for slander someone's name and reputation, because I know for a fact you don't have cadet Martinez's permission for any of this and that he never said any of that. Martinez is a good friend and I know he had no interest in college. I was a part of the stem trip to Perdue and you never interviewed any of the cadets from the camp. I also attended a meeting with the mayor and several other cadets who went you weren't there at all either. Stop spreading lies and get your facts straight.

NNOMY Youngbastion. These programs were not designed about you. I am glad that you believe in what your doing and that you want to serve your country but your avoiding the research. These programs ARE designed to increase the rate of enrollment to programs like JROTC and to get youth aligned to join the military. We have these discussions all the time with young people like you and your not interested in facing the truth of it or even reading a single article about it. There are 145 groups in our network that engage youth militarization issues in our schools nationwide. Some are veterans like Iraqi Veterans Against the War, or Veterans for Peace. Others are peace churches like the Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers. We are not in the habit of not doing our research or lying. I am, this moment, in London for three months working on an international project around youth militarization in multiple countries that is going on right now. You are involved in your world and I am certain it is well intentioned, but there is a trend in process of cultural militarization going on in liberal democracies that in lieu of real productive work and job development, the political and military culture have united to bring more and more schools under a military framework. NNOMY and WRI, AFSC, all of these groups, work on these issues because their is a shift away from civilian democracy to private (corporate) and government partnerships that are regressive to real cultural freedom. You can understand this or not, but denial does not make it a lie. The facts of our work are well establihed. You can read and learn about it or avoid the issue. Real freedom is served at the end of the day by people who are informed and not led. I am certain that much of what you are experiencing in the program is good but we are struggling to keep our schools, entertainment, and public spaces from becoming the property of our military. These are not the principles that our country was founded on but rather the dangers that were to be avoided. http://nnomy.org

George Montes This is why you won't reply

NNOMY Who can't handle the peer pressure are those who will not read about how their programs came into existence, by what forces and agencies and what are the long term implications for a country that wishes to be a democracy and not run by the Pentagon and their client corporations, George. You are all going to support, by your success in these new militarized schools the unquestioning citizenry of the future who will accept endless enemies and budgets for the military and no interest in living in a peaceful world. You will be robbing millions of yourselves and others of a better future.

George Montes
Why can we all get along

NNOMY We are getting along....discussing something important...your lives

Kevin Ayala
Sir/mam what ever you may be, look at it this way. Sure it is program promoting recruitment. So what? A majority of kids in today's society won't enlist or commission as an officer. You need to give them the information. And as I see it a majority of the civilian life in American knows nothing about the military and would join the Army since it is the branch they know the best. Take away ROTC what do you get? Numbers of those fighting for your right that you are executing right now. What would that result to a possible draft or even more ways for teens to be recruited without a draft. Oh and its not just JROTC, I remind you that recruiters go out and talk to teens and try to get signatures. Are you going to blame them as well for the militarization of education? Our school is focused around the United States Navy so they can promote, yes enlisting, but as for now they want to promote jobs as Naval scientist. Hence the STEM camp. In no way can you win this against the government. And as I see it the military needs young people who are patriotic to practically give up certain rights to fight for your rights. You are an American because someone bled the blood you wouldn't bleed. Someone had the courage to go and sacrifice sleep, food and possibly water so you have more than enough of those supplies. Take that information away from teens, from schools what do you get? The diminish of the military's population.


NNOMY Thank you Kevin for being honest enough to admit that programs such as JROTC are recruitment aimed efforts by the Pentagon. You have integrity to admit this. NNOMY does not typically engage in the issues of U.S. foreign policy with youth about recruitment that drive the "fight for your freedom" justifications, but they are very suspect generally as born out, not by the history they are teaching you, but by the political reality of maintaining markets for American commerce and foreign intervention. The military has used false historical justifications like Saudi attacks on 9/11 for invading Iraq, a country non-alligned with that history and that trend continues a history since WWII of the same interventions and violations of the Nuremberg Principles that the U.S. Government was the author of holding German high command liable for war crimes. Sorry about that. Compare what you have been taught to the following and do your own research to see if you can impeach this legacy: http://bit.ly/USintervention

John Cauinian
Lol lieing to the public? This shit is too funny. You lied to us and the public through dececpion and conspiracy theories. Lets look at the grads that finish highschool in a military school. Instead of asuming that we are going to be soldiers for the military...get some hard facts first then come back to me

NNOMY The hard facts are that these programs were designed to channel poor and kids at risk into the military. Check the words of the former Secretary of Defense.... we need schools that can motivate and instill pride and discipline without militarization - http://www.alternet.org/.../public_military_academies%3A...

Public Military Academies: Prep Schools? Or Blatant Recruitment Pools?
www.alternet.org Public school systems are increasingly opening their doors to military academies -- primarily in poor urban areas.

Tony Martinez Christian Hainds THANK YOU it's my choice what I want to do when I finish college. "College". I knew I wanted to go into the navy before when I was younger.

NNOMY Your choices are limited by what is available to you. We are saying that we can accomplish a structured education without militarization of schools. The harder questions are not being addressed here as well; such as, why are jobs and real opportunities in our urban areas shrinking. Why are so many youth attracted to things military? Why is our economy more and more serving the interests of investment speculation without investing in our communities? Try those issues on instead of a uniform at your school.

Christian Hainds What's wrong with a career in the military?

NNOMY Nothing is wrong with joining the military. What is wrong is when education becomes militarized and entertainment too. Look up militainment Christian and educate yourself....and without a STEM program!

Janine Schwab You can't do STEM enrichment without it involving a DOD, usually Navy, grant. I had to pull my daughter out of a Math camp last year after discovering at the last minute they would be doing a "career presentation". She's 10!

Emely Dominguez Then again. All the kids that go to Rickover. Chose to go to Rickover. Nobody forced us to go. They teach us how to be respectful,something A LOT of high school kids don't know. They don't want us to go to the navy and if we do they'll help us enroll. And let me say this again "if we want to go to the navy" if we don't then we just go to college like any normal person.

NNOMY Learning to be respectful is good. No one is forcing you but when choices are limited between a military school program and something even less certain, it is difficult to argue that you really have many choices in the first place. When we see young people join the military because they have no other options to start their lives, get out of a bad family environment, or lack the money to go to the school they want for college, we call this the "poverty draft." If they say they don't want you to go into the Navy but then the Department of Defense is funding your schools, then what is the real message here. They are funding schools because they are experimenting with ways to insure that they have a steady flow of recruits for the military.

Kevin Ayala I will not be a minion of spreading such none sense. I dont care if JROTC is a recruiting program. It only ENCOURAGES, have you ever been enrolled in a program? Encouraging is different from actually enforcing it. Speak if you've been there. I believe that JROTC is a good thing. Even if it is a recruiting program it makes great citizens. Especially in this generation

NNOMY It is a better thing to learn discipline and respect in a national program like Americorps where you work in the service of your country without the context of inflicting harm on others or having it inflicted upon you. Good citizenship starts with having your eyes wide open. I speak because this has been the work of many since before there was Keven Ayala and his father and his father too to keep America demoratic.

John Cauinian I understand that you want to build a structor on developing highschool's with discipline and respect without the military. That can happen, but you dont need to take out the military schools just to make it happen. You can build a structor that teaches discipline and responsibility in a high school. Like school uniform and etc. Our generation tbh, is fuckd up and young kids/teens have develop an attitude that disrespects our parents. If your going to blame someone... blame the parents because they make it happen through lack of parenting and discipline. Also, the choice is not limited if you studied hard and focus. You can score a high ACT through preporation and hard work. If you fool around and play video games all day long...of course your going to fail and all of the doors in your future will be closed. So, its not only the parents fault, but the kids too. Lets change the topic... you say the work force is shrinking... well the economy is fucked up by the senators.and and congressmam that keep promsing you ( the people) with many things that can benefiting you in some type of way. Like lowering taxes and etc... only you have to do is to vote for him/her. Then when he/she gets elected... they got to fill up the demand and support the people... which brings a huge dept for us to pay. Later on in the year... we have to deal with that problem...cutting out a lot of things...such as jobs and programs. The economy is fuckd up and you think removing some military schools or schools that the government/military funds will help us. First of all... your wasting our eduaction or stalling our education even more. How about you fix our economies... so the work force can hire more of us. Right now... every kid is thinking about what to do in their lives. If the economy is fucked up... of course we have to rely on parents...scholarships or the military to fulfill their dreams. Or maybe that the kids want to join the military because their is a job that they like to do and it is their dream. How about you be a good parent and support this dream and fix the economy.

NNOMY Really good questions you are asking. Many of the comments here have been well considered and NNOMY boosting this article about Rickover Academy has been money well spent. We can blame the government and our parents for why the conditions for behavior and future options to make a good life are so limited and in a bad way, but we should consider that the freedoms we hold so cherished have been violated by that very flawed idea of what is freedom; freedom to promote for profit things that are not productive, or harmful to us. Freedom is not Free is a popular saying among military people. It is actually a slogan because it equates freedom with those military people who have sacrificed for the rest of us that do not serve. Freedom also has a cultural cost. When we are not responsible with our freedoms to use credit or alcohol, drugs, and tobacco,; when we are not responsible about sex or how we treat others; we produce addiction, debt, unwanted children, suicide, violence, etc. Respect begins with you and to respect yourself. You are an incredible creation, with a brain to learn and so many opportunities to increase your value to yourself and the world. The military has many aspects that can create structure and disciple but there is also creativity and hunger to learn about your world. Escaping the limitations of our families, our communities, ourselves is the real challenge for free people. That is possible when you struggle and start to live outside of yourself and to realize that there is a whole world outside of you to learn from, to grow from. To exceed your self expectations. It is not contained in the idea of a nation. We all belong to each other, to be loved, and to reject violence....to not hurt ourselves or others while we make our way.

Tony Martinez So if these schools are made for military enrollment how do you explain other schools. Such as local schools Rickover gave us a chance to not go to a local school and gave us a sense of security were I don't have to be afraid to do anything.

NNOMY All of this is very encouraging and troubling to us peace people at the same time. We are watching and listening to learn more.

Nancy Walker NNOMY, just take your "research" and shove it up your ass.

NNOMY See if respect for those who do not share your views is included in your military training Nancy Walker. If your ideas are well founded then they can survive being informed by the total picture.

Nancy Walker I hope the know that statics shows there is a high percentage student who are NOT in ROTC that enlist in the military then students who are. You obviously don't have your facts straight. You don't know what we want to do in our near future. Also, I don't recall you interviewing any other cadets in the school. Why just that one person? So you can take his words and try to prove a point that doesn't exist? Do you guys know how stupid you sound. I want you take the time out of your day and follow an ROTC cadet. Spectate what the learn in Naval Science 1. The last time I checked NONE of out instructors were pushing us into joining the military. They discipline us to get us to do the right thing and help us realize right from wrong. I advise you guys to stop arguing with us high school students because you people haven't a clue what you are talking about. The next time you try to talk bad about ROTC actually take the time out of your day and walk in our shoes. I bet if you ask the whole 500 student who attend there a MAJORITY don't want to join the military. Put that in your article.

NNOMY We are informed by the statistics of the Department of Defense that funds JROTC Programs nation-wide. The military claimed that JROTC is not a recruiting program, and then on other occasions has admitted it is, but DoD statistics and testimony in Congress indicate that 40-50 percent of its students join the military, with most going directly into enlisted ranks. Right from wrong includes not being integrated into or in support of illegal wars that are not serving either the national interest of its people or the security of the nation. Naval science likely does not offer a more nuanced analysis of U.S. foreign policy. Pass your school book on to the American Friends Service Committee in Chicago if you want to share with us what you are being taught in class. We have walked in your shoes and shoes you have not walked in yet. Our network includes many veterans who have questioned whether their national service was not wrongly used by interests not in the defense of the nation but in the interest of industries that have exploited the fear and misrepresentation of real threats to the nation. Your education is designed to justify bad foreign policy and the terrible waste of money and lives it has cost. http://bit.ly/nnomy_jrotc

Youngbastion Velez I thinks it's funny I bring very good and true points and you change the topic and ask more questions you refuse to reply because I am right and you don't want to be made to look like idiots by a sophomore.

NNOMY Reply to which questions Youngbastion?

John Cauinian Lol im free! Hahaha. Why cant you answer my question that i posted? About solving this economy problems and get us jobs? Let say we got out of college with a degree. What kind of jobs are there for us? Low wages and a huge dept that we have to pay for 20 years of our lives hahhahaha lol. Do you want a different question to answer...why do people wont recieve a full ride scholarship? Let me guess your answer...its the military right? Do you know the meaning of freedom? You keep saying that back and forth like it means nothing to you. Have you ever fought for someones freedom or defend someones rights before? Do you ever take the time and understand why dont chilrdren dont have discipline or reaponsibility? Let me guess...military right? You keep saying that we dont understand at all. Let me tell you this: do you understand the problem that we have to face for our future? What are we going to be in life?...whats the most paying job out thers?...how can i pay for college without hurting my parents? Thiz is everything that comes through our minds by the second. Please answer all my question...tell me how can i achieve my dream???? Let me guess: put the end of the millitary. You keep pointing out the millitary that funds our education. If you take out the funds...some schools cant support themseleves and their program. That means you cut out our education...wasting our lives/time....and make history as the organization that close down many schools and programs. That means that the kids will stay home and do nothing. Oh look!! The economy will be 2x worse and the job force will shrink. Congratulation...our only choice now is the military. How about you gey some common sense... this school is not recruiting people. Its the fucking recruiters! Do you who pays the recruiters? The government. How about you take your ass to washington and protest there. Instead of harrasing students and the school.

NNOMY Our economy is not designed to get you or ensure you a job; it is an economic system designed for wealth creation. That means economic rules and policies that encourage investment like low or lower taxes. Incentives provided to open businesses like access to cheaper production such as sending domestic jobs to cheaper labor countries like China and India. These are issues that Americans have been asleep about for 30 years and more and now they seem to not understand what is happening. You are all young here saying, " Where are our jobs? Our futures?" Well, they have been traded away to a new global economy that has jobs inside the United States either in the high end that can provide a better living, and minimum wage jobs for the rest. Or you can make your own job, a business. You have been brought up to believe that you live in the greatest country in the world also, that is really not very useful when there is no access to affordable public education like there is in other countries. One of the sad facts about America, is that it has put itself into a 17 trillion dollar hole of debt and has mortgaged the social security that millions of workers have paid into for years to pay off the interest on its debt obligations. Are they covering this information at your school? And we still spend 60% of public money on the military and military related expenses like the Veterans administration. Where are your dreams John? In the pocket of some military contracting company like Lockheed Martin. Your concern for wasted lives is right on the mark(X) john, and it is an outrage and needs to be laid at the feet of both political parties that share power in the USA, the Pentagon, Homeland Security, Intelligence Agencies, and all the other machinations of waste that have kidnapped our people and all of our futures and the futures of our children and grandchildren to come. So you are correct to say that the military is your only choice in old think, but in new think there are other possibilities...but that is another conversation. And the school is not recruiting but the recruiters? The entire setup is recruiting you into the military along with 350 million other U.S. Americans who watch militarized TV, Movies, Video Games, Sports, Toys, Clothing and Fashion, Guns, you name it.....it is about recruitment of bodies and souls into something called "empire." Do they teach that at your school? http://bit.ly/nnomy_100percentmilitarized

Emely Dominguez And the harder question here that I know you won't be able to do it why can't you people just leave us alone and the rest of Jrotc alone ?

NNOMY Our work is to challenge the trend of militarization that is engulfing all things in our culture. We are activist, peace church people, peace veterans, 149 groups nationally worried about these trends. That is why we cannot leave this issue alone. For you Emely, do well in your program and be proud of your work and your country. That is perfect.

John Cauinian Lol dam...there is a some things that i agree with you. But there is alot of things that i disagree with you. People are not force to go to the military because they cant pay for college or stuff like that. There is a merit base scholarship that pays for your school. If you dont have enough money then you should push yourself to get a job and pay for it. There is one thing that our generation take advantage of and it is time. When that time pass...then all good things have to come to the end and we have to work hard to get it back. Tbh, the best thing is to let people find their own path and their own future. If there is one thing that we all hate is being treated as a kid and being baby steps us. Also, you made a profit by selling this article about us. Do you have any respect for us (students) or for yourself? I met with the journalist that you bought in. She told me that she was here to know about our stem camp and then wrote this article about us lieing to the public...so you can make a profit on some nonsense that you can sell to the public. Do you know our guidening principle or our mission? You should change that misleading title of "lieing to the public.." and write something that we deserve because right now you spit on our face..like you dont care. You mention about " im here for the students" how about you give us some respect and actual care about us. Give us motivation...instead of trash talkig. Disrespecting the school is like disrespecting our family. We all grew up as young adults and we learn a lot. We have experience more things than any other highschools cant. I love this school...i love my 2nd family...and you have no rights to write bad things about it. Im done stating my opinion. Peace

NNOMY Peace John and good luck with your decision and do excellent.

John Cauinian Oh yea...before i leave, im going to answer your question. I want to be a police officer that protects the weak and fighy for justice.

NNOMY Good luck with your plans John. Be a good police officer.

Nancy Walker I guess these people aren't mature enough to acknowledge our comments. What adults you are.

NNOMY I am acknowledging your comments, at least I am trying too. This is the work Nancy, to question war and violence in our culture and world.

Anthony Bieszczat This is all bullshit. Our school focuses more on college preparation more than anything. This program has nothing to do with joining the military. I too want to serve for my country but JROTC is more about leadership and patriotism and helping others out. Not joining the military. I think this is hilarious. You guys need to get your facts straight.

NNOMY Our facts are straight Anthony. This is an invisible issue for most Americans because war has been normalized in the culture. All these programs are to put militarism in an acceptable light whether you go to college or in the military. Many of you are saying the program is not for recruitment, but that is not what the Department of Defense has said that is funding these new schools. If you don't want to see the evidence then don't challenge our facts.

Sophie Cue I know that not everyone goes into the military at RNA, and I do agree that Tooker and his staff were not encouraging enlistment, but because RNA is a military school, the recruiters got a lot of access to the students and they convinced a lot of kids to either enlist outright or do ROTC or National Guard. True, only a few kids enlisted outright, but look at how many were doing some sort of GI bill program. That was a really high percentage. And an overwhelming percentage of that $7.5 million in scholarships came from ROTC scholarships which are not really scholarships because they have to be payed back through mil. service. I really did not like how the recruiters snowballed the kids at RNA and made promises that could not be delivered on, did not fully disclose the implications of accepting one of their "scholarships". Just ask some of RNA's grads who are now in the position of paying the military back because military service did not work out for them. I would like to see full disclosure from the military about what obligations service entails before kids choose to enlist or go for ROTC.

NNOMY Glad you are being candid about the relationship between sponsorship and obligations. NNOMY is concerned about the trends to militarize education in Chicago schools and around the nation. That is our work and we represent some 149 organizations from peace churches and veterans to activists, parents and teachers. We all want good results for these youth but we want to challenge what we feel is a dangerous trend to normalize war in our country. Part of our work has been for many years what is called Truth in Recruiting, and that entails researching what those obligations are and to inform students more fully, including about information related to corps programs and JROTC. http://bit.ly/nnomy_truthinrecruiting

Sophie Cue And I have to say tht some of the recruiters were really good and seemed to care about the kids. If I had a struggling student with a conscientious recruiter, I would call him/her and he/she would straighten that kid out, make them come into the office for study hall, call me for follow-up like a second parent, and these recruiters were honest with kids. Unfortunately though, that was not the majority of recruiters. Quite a few of the recruiters that I dealt with did not follow up with kids; one recruiter threatened them; many would tell them that they could be MP's, technicians, whatever, you get to pick your job, then get the kids to commit, then the kids would take the AVSAB and find out that they did not score high enough to get the job or training that they wanted, but find out that they could not back out. Tooker hated that too and would try and intervene on the kids' behalf. I do not object to military schools or the military as a career but I want full disclosure. After all, these are 17 and 18 year old kids making very adult choices frequently without enough information.

NNOMY The basis of much of what counter-recruitment is about is that youth and parents have the entire picture before a decision is made that can effect their lives, and others, so profoundly. Keep up the good work Sophie.

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