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.


3 decline to take military test

Cedar Ridge High's principal says they weren't being disciplined in being sent to a suspension classroom

 HILLSBOROUGH - Three high school students were sent to an in-school suspension classroom after refusing to take a military aptitude test at Cedar Ridge High School on Tuesday.

Principal Gary Thornburg said the students were not being disciplined, but rather that the in-school suspension teacher was the staff person available to supervise them. More than 300 juniors spent two hours Tuesday and again Wednesday in the school cafeteria taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

Thornburg said the test, which the U.S. military calls the ASVAB, is traditionally administered to juniors at his school and is part of a larger career assessment program.

The military provides the tests, proctors and grading without charge. In exchange, the scores are sent to military branch recruiters and the school.

"This happens to be the best career assessment we've found," Thornburg said.

By federal law, the contact information for any junior or senior who doesn't sign an opt-out form is passed along to recruiters by the school district.

Thornburg said since students can keep their information private, he didn't understand why some would not want to take the test. The results are discussed with students in school advisory groups that can help them identify study and career choices, he said.

"I don't have a lot of patience with people who are refusing to take the assessment -- or refusing anything that their entire grade level is participating in," Thornburg said.

Dakota Ling, one of the juniors sent to the suspension classroom, said he didn't think he would benefit from the test. Ling, an honors student, has a better than 4.0 grade point average and plans to become a graphic designer.

"I just really don't want the military to have all the info it can on me," he said.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction does not encourage schools to give the ASVAB to students who have not expressed an interest in the military, spokeswoman Linda Fuller said.

Students in Durham and Wake counties have to sign up for the test. So do students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and at the Orange County school system's other high school, Orange.

When it opened in 1996, East Chapel Hill High School tested all sophomores, said Winslow Carter, career development coordinator.

"We had such an outrage from the parents and the community that we didn't do that anymore," Carter said. He said he still thinks the aptitude test is valuable for nonmilitary career guidance.

Now, fewer than 10 students a year take the test at East Chapel Hill High School.

Chapel Hill Army recruiter Sgt. Jason Earl has seen that drop off in many area schools. He said recruiters understand that everyone who takes the test may not be interested in military service and that if a household asks them not to call back, they generally don't.

"We're not out here to harass," Earl said.


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (919) 932-2005

Militarism in the Land, the Water and the Schools

Michael Lujan Bevacqua  -
I am constantly surprised at the ways in which people are surprised at things.

I suppose that anywhere, you go, you can find things which are normal there and abnormal or incomprehensible elsewhere. Coming from Guam, a pretty little American territory/colony in the Western Pacific, I find alot of things which "shock" regular Americans, aren't so strange to me.

Often times, when people remark that Guam is so gof gof suette because we don't have to pay Federal income taxes, my response is a very sincere request that our positions be changed then. That this person I am talking to and whatever state they call home, switch its political status so that it becomes like that of Guam. So yes, by all means, take the no Federal income tax rule, but, you simply can't just take this benefit alone, you also have to accept with it, the overall dinimalas of being a colony. You have to take the lack of a voting Congressional representative, and also regardless of your population, no representation in the Senate whatsoever.

What generally shocks people, however and makes them realize the unsavoriness of becoming like Guam, is the fact that, then your state must give up 30% of its area to the United States military to be transformed into Air Force, Navy and soon to be built Marine Corps bases. Most of these people, who think very simplistically about the fortune of being the colony of Guam, never make it to considering this point, and even if they are patriotic, flag waving Americans, who profess a profound love and respect for the troops, this idea of having 1/3 of their states controlled by the military, tends to shake them to their very core.

It is almost as if, they are forced to see past their rhetoric, their illusions, and confront what they truly feel about something. That while the military defends, protects, it is also a fearsome creature, in many ways what Giles Delueze called the war machine (i makinan gera). In addition to protecting life, the military destroys life, and not just the enemies lives, but the lives of those it protects as well. The military sucks away resources, and rarely in very balanced or well managed ways. For instance, in my department, someone has on the door of their office a cartoon that wishes for the day when public schools will be well funded, and the military will have to hold bake sales. This is the sort of illusion that the military actively engineers in order to protect itself, and to keep its image positive.

In high schools for instance in California, JROTC programs are advertised as bringing in income and money to schools. They are advertised as being important programs for getting kids into college as well. Both of these points however are rarely true. In fact, JROTC programs can end up costing schools far more than they bring in, because of the gap in what the Department of Defense reimburses the school, and what they require the school pay in order to set up the program. Furthermore, in the California state college system, military science courses taken through JROTC do not count towards college. As if to make things worse, the money put up to establish JROTC in schools, tends to get taken away from actual college prepatory programs.

In Guam, we have the idea that the United States military is an "environmental steward," or a good and loving caretaker of the environment. While in some ways, we can see this, as certain pet projects such as the eradication of the brown tree snake or the protection of endangered species on Guam become central to the public relations campaigns of the military. We also get this impression of the military as being better at watching out for the environment because of dikike' na kosas, such as the pristine conditions of their lawns, the lack of abandoned cars by the roadsides in their bases, and in an almost ridiculous way, the better paint jobs on their houses.

All of this evidence in favor of the idea that the military is simply mampos kapas gi i umadadahi i tano', i tasi yan i aire, is nonetheless contradicted by the actual poisoning of the earth the military perpetuates in times of war and peace. Agent Orange, Depleted Uranium, Nuclear Fallout, Toxic Waste, Mustard Gas, these are all weapons of mass destruction of chemical warfare which have been brought to Guam and affected the health of its residents, and as some cancer research indicates, has affected our health and environment in catastrophic ways.

I think that when I ask people to imagine what it would be like if 30% of California or Oregon or New York was military bases, it shatters that sort of positive illusion that surrounds the military, and forces these people to think about what the military means in their lives, and to think beyond the platitudes about defense, and also see what other less "patriotic" impacts it can have.

Recently, as I've become involved with the group Project on Youth Alternatives and Non-Military Options or Project YANO, I have found another point which can shock people into rethinking what the military means in daily life.

For instance, when I tell people that in San Diego the JROTC has built and is building firing ranges at San Diego high schools, most people react with almost pure shock. Although these firing ranges aren't using real weapons, but just air powered rifles, the idea that young high school students are being trained to handle weapons, forces people to recognize not just the violent aspects of militarism, but more so the predatory aspects of it, which we see through the recruitment of students at increasingly young ages in order to meet recruitment targets.

In order to build these firing ranges and fund the JROTC programs, money has been taken away from college prep courses such as AVID and Advanced Placement. In addition, in the hopes of giving the impression of enthusiastic student support for JROTC, at Mission Bay and Lincoln High Schools, students were enrolled in JROTC without their or their parents' consent.

For the past few months, The Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft has been conducting public meetings in order to gauge community outrage over the firing range issue, and has ciruclated petitions, held protests and built up a diverse coalition, with the hopes of addressing the following issues:

  1. Removing the firing ranges from San Diego high schools (since they violate the no weapons ban in schools)
  2. Stop the violations of California Education Code 51750, which prohibits involuntary enrollment in military science classes.
  3. The inadequate offering of college prep classes and academic electives that students can take instead of JROTC, and require that parents and students be informed that military sciences classes do not count towards college admissions.

On Feb. 12th, San Diego parents, students and teachers held a protest as the city school board met, hoping to receive a full and fair hearing on this issue, and that their concerns be addressed. I'm pasting below photos from the protest:

On Feb. 12th, San Diego parents, students and teachers held a protest as the city school board met, hoping to receive a full and fair hearing on this issue, and that their concerns be addressed. I'm pasting below photos from the protest:


Targeting Youth: What Everyone Should Know About Mulitary Recruiting in Public High Schools

The Billions of dollars spent on advertising could be used for scholarships and other youth programs....

Targeting YouthUnder the supervision of Clinical Professor Penny Venetis, the following students and interns contributed to writing this report: Heidi Alexander, Avi Appel, Erica Askin, Amy Brown, Eric Bueide, Matthew Coleman, Randle DeFalco, Jason Fertakos, Lisa Hansen, Safia Hussain, Michael Isaac, Syrion Jack, Daniel Louis, Devi Shah, Nadia Rollins, and Robert Ulon.

Indeed, under 10 U.S.C.A. § 503, the “Secretary of Defense is required by law to enhance the effectiveness of DOD’s recruitment programs through an aggressive program of advertising and market research targeted at prospective recruits and those who may influence them.”...

The military has conducted extensive research into the psychological and behavioral factors that influence teenagers to enlist in the military....The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) administers the YATS to students annually so that changes in youth “demographic trends, cultural characteristics, attitudes, and educational attainments” can be tracked by the DOD to formulate recruiting strategies....

The military’s marketing campaigns emphasize patriotic themes and tales of adventure that appeal to teenage sensitivities, while downplaying the actual risks of war....

[I]n teens, the judgment, insight and reasoning power of the frontal cortex is not being brought to bear on the task as it is in adults.

The United States Supreme Court has also recognized the psychological vulnerability of children and teenagers in several landmark decisions. In 2005, in discussing why the execution of juveniles is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court cited “[s]cientific and sociological studies documenting the tendency of adolescents to make “impetuous and ill-considered decisions”; their susceptibility to “negative influences and outside pressures": and the "transitory" nature of their character traits....

Recognizing the psychological vulnerability of children, Congress passed laws prohibiting slick marketing campaigns that glamorize risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking. For similar reasons, as the obesity rate among young people has soared, school officials and legislators have targeted the sale of unhealthy foods on school campuses....

While a broad consensus exists that teenagers lack the decision-making capacity of adults, the military deliberately exploits this immaturity by equating the military with video games and other entertainment....

Often the military prominently displays its promotional materials inside or nearby the school cafeteria, where the entire student population can be exposed to the recruiters’ messages....

The Army also plans to use cell phone text messages, helicopter simulators in the back of eighteen wheelers, and visits to NASCAR and rodeo races. “[R]ecruiters will visit schools and malls a few days before an event, offering free tickets and the chance to meet famous drivers or bull riders.”

Military recruiters create a customized “pitch” for each individual student based in part on personal information gathered from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB)....

Military recruiters are instructed to “read yearbooks to ‘mysteriously’ know something about a prospect to spark the student’s curiosity.”...

"[C]hallenge his ego by suggesting that basic training may be too difficult for him and he might not be able to pass it."...

Recruiters view each teenager as a potential sale, rather than an individual who is trying to navigate the difficult years of adolescence. Indeed, the Secretary of Defense’s Director of Recruiting Policy stated that the military concentrates on schools most likely to “maximize returns on the recruiting dollar [because] the advertising and marketing research people tell us to go where the low-hanging fruit is. In other words, we fish where the fish are.”...

[T]he military’s School Recruitment Program Handbook (“SRP Handbook”), instructs them to “penetrate the school market” and achieve “school ownership.”... High schools are referred to as “markets” where recruiters make “sales presentations” to students....

[R]ecruiters are becoming fixtures in the public school system....

Recruiters are told to give out free mugs, calendars and office supplies with the Army logo on them to school employees...

The SRP Handbook refers to educators as “tools” to further implement the military’s goals....

To facilitate this “ownership,” recruiters are instructed to approach youths as early and as often as possible and to seek help from school administrators and popular students, or “centers of influence,” (“COIs”) in the recruiting process....

"If you wait until they’re seniors, it’s probably too late." ...

[T]he SRP Handbook encourages military recruiters to “[g]et involved with local Boy Scout troops,” because “ scoutmasters are typically happy to get any assistance you can offer.” ... the actual age range for the Boy Scouts is ten to eighteen years old. This means that military recruiters not only target younger high school students, but have access to boys as young as ten years of age, without any parental knowledge or permission....

"Some influential students such as the student president or the captain of the football team may not enlist; however, they can and will provide you with referrals who will enlist."...

"Know [their] student influencers. Students such as class officers, newspaper and yearbook editors, and athletes can help build interest in the Army among the student body. Keep them informed."...

"Be indispensable to school administrators, counselors, faculty, and students. Be so helpful and so much a part of the school scene that you are in constant demand ... Cultivate coaches, librarians, administrative staff, and teachers"...

Military recruiters are instructed to “eat lunch in the school cafeteria" ... The Army’s “Calendar of School Activities” urges military recruiters to "wear [their] dress blues" to school events commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and to participate in activities during Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. There is no mention, however, of similar events such as Columbus Day and Saint Patrick’s Day, which are days of ethnic pride for Irish and Italian-Americans....

[T]he Navy created a Web site, called El Navy, which is designed to better communicate with the Hispanic market,” and “the Army has specifically tailored radio advertisements to reach the African-American market.”...

"Obtain a copy of the HS fall sports and activity calendars [and] arrange to have the schedules copied with the RS [Recruiting Station] address prominently displayed. Post them throughout the RS area, including restaurants, arcades, and anywhere else students congregate"...

"Contact the school’s student government ... to discuss what the Army and you can do to assist them in the upcoming SY ... The football team usually starts practicing in August. Contact the coach and volunteer to assist in leading calisthenics or calling cadence during team runs"...

"Attend athletic events at the HS ... Get involved with the parent-teacher association ... Obtain a tactical vehicle from a local USAR [“US Army Recruiting”] troop program unit and drive it in the parade with your future Soldiers riding along.... Deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month.... Hispanic Heritage Month. Participate in events as available"...

"Offer to be a chaperone or escort for homecoming activities and coronations."...

"Assemble and offer a color guard for the opening home game... Prior to Thanksgiving, many student organizations gather food baskets for needy citizens. Offer your assistance and get involved."...

"Contact college students who are home during the holidays." ...

"Turn up the tempo on contacting your juniors." ...

"[A]rrange for an exhibition basketball game between the faculty and Army recruiters." ...

"Prepare certificates for those faculty and staff members who have aided you in your HS recruiting efforts.... present these certificates at a COI [Center of Influence] event.... Continue to advertise in school newspapers and conduct class presentations."...

"Basketball season starts. Offer assistance to the coach." ...

"[S]end thank you notes to those staff and faculty members who have been helpful ... Secure and present USAR Scholar/Athlete Awards at HS graduation or award ceremonies ... Assist in arranging a color guard for the graduation ceremony ... Coordinate with school officials to determine if they can use your assistance during summer school.” ...

All four branches of the armed forces host all-expense paid workshops for educators....

Allen Kanner, a clinical psychologist and researcher on military recruiting, calls the use of teachers “a very clever marketing technique,” and explains: “Teachers are role models, and if they approve of something, then the students believe the whole school system approves of it.” ...

In 2008, to increase enlistment, the military increased its bonus allowance from $1,000.91 to $2,000.92 to members of the Army, National Guard, Army Reserve, retired service-members, and civilian Army employees who refer potential enlistees to recruiters. Authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, active service members or veterans who convince someone to enlist receives $1,000 when the referred enlistee commences basic training, and another $2,000 when the referred enlistee completes basic training and individual advanced training. Under this program, essentially every service-member acts as a recruiter. The program encourages deceptive recruiting practices. Service members have a financial incentive to glorify the war and to minimize negative experiences.


Students who object to military presence in their high schools can be ostracized. For example, at one high school in Southern New Jersey, a student was reprimanded and ostracized for refusing to participate in a recruiter-led gym class that simulated military training. During the gym class, students were told to respond “yes sergeant” to the recruiter’s orders. The penalty for failing to respond was 20 push-ups. One student who refused to participate was removed from gym class for the day and initially given a “0” grade.

The student was later harassed by students and members of the school’s staff. Students called him “un-American” and a “Communist.” One student openly confronted him about the incident, sparking a public argument. A teacher chastised the student for refusing to participate in the military exercise. While doing so, the teacher referenced his grandparents who were holocaust survivors.


The irony is that DHS students and real Marines actually do share much in common. Both groups are largely poor. Enlisting in the Marines would not provide the average DHS student a way to escape their unpromising life. It will only change the scenery from Southern Texas to Iraq or Afghanistan, and add the risks of snipers, roadside bombs and firefights.


[A] Department of Defense policy change highlights that rape is pervasive.


Advantages to Enlisting During College: (1) Higher Sign-On Bonuses,  (2) Those with Associates Degrees and college credits also qualify for higher sign-on bonuses, (3) Better Pay, (4) Those with Associates Degrees and college credits qualify for higher pay than enlistees who are only high school graduates, (5) More Elite Jobs....

In addition to receiving the benefits listed directly above, college graduates who enlist may reap additional benefits. The military has student loan repayment programs which can help enlistees repay existing student loans. Additionally, college graduates may be eligible to enlist directly into the officer candidate schools of the various military branches. This puts them on a fast-track to interesting careers with better pay and benefits.


E/COI tours are designed to be professionally enriching experiences for key influencers. They are not junkets or rewards for cooperation with recruiters. Tours are resources that must focus on those areas (access, ASVAB testing, and release of directory information) that need special attention. Tours provide E/COIs the opportunity to view Soldiers in a training environment. Many participants become informed supporters who publicize and promote Army opportunities with students, graduates, and other key influencers.

-- Targeting Youth: What Everyone Should Know About Military Recruiting in Public High Schools

Source: (Archived)

Document: TARGETING YOUTH: WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MILITARY RECRUITING IN PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS, a Report Prepared by The Constitutional Litigation Clinic, Rutgers School of Law-Newark, November 2007

Revised: 10/11/2019


No Child Left Behind Act - Overview

Your Child's Name, Phone Number, and Address

The passage of recent "school reform" legislation intended to improve upon the nation's school systems also allows the military access to private student information.

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law by President George Bush on January 8, 2002, is touted by many as a federal bipartisan success story designed to impact the way children learn in school and how schools and states are held accountable to students, parents and educational communities. It is an elaborate reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that, among other things, initially offered grants to low income school areas and established the federal lunch and milk programs. In spite of the new act’s overwhelming support by Washington legislators and policy makers, it is starting to come under fire for a well-hidden section entitled Sec. 9528. Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information.

Counter-recruitment is crucial to anti-war movement

 Pat Elder -

Patrick ElderThe mainstream peace and justice movement is beginning to see that countering military recruitment deserves a higher priority and should be viewed in strategic, rather than tactical terms. Resisting the unprecedented and relentless militarization of American youth transcends the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Countering military recruitment confronts an ugly mix of a distinctively American brand of institutionalized violence, racism, militarism, nationalism, classism, and sexism.  It gets to the root of the problem.

Confronting the work of military recruiters, particularly in the nation’s public schools will provide a catalyst for activists to shift gears from the traditional antiwar tactics of vigils, protests, sit-ins, and CD actions to the long-term strategy of opposing the militarization of youth.  The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One however, treats symptoms; the other addresses causes.

Simply put, the strategy of the counter-recruiting movement is to put the imperial armed forces of the United States into a kind of vice that squeezes new recruits from the ranks.  One end of the vice is the near universal rejection of the return of the military draft.  Remember how the House voted 402-2 against reinstating the draft back in October of 2004?  Bringing back the draft is unthinkable.  Conscription would result in demonstrations of millions that would ultimately end the war and result in a political revolution.  The crushing steel on the opposite side of the vice is the counter-recruitment movement, aided by an American public that increasingly recognizes illegal and immoral wars.

Counter recruitment activists are putting on the squeeze.  They’re doing it by learning about high school policies that favor military recruiters and they’re organizing their communities to change it.  They’re providing youth with training, employment and educational alternatives to military service.  They’re engaged with community leaders and the press in promoting a greater awareness of encroaching militarism.  And they’re being successful across the country.

The Childrens Crusade

Jennifer Wedekind -

Military programs move into middle schools to fish for future soldiers

Tarsha Moore stands as tall as her 4-foot 8-inch frame will allow. Staring straight ahead, she yells out an order to a squad of peers lined up in three perfect columns next to her. Having been in the military program for six years, Tarsha has earned the rank of captain and is in charge of the 28 boys and girls in her squad. This is Lavizzo Elementary School. Tarsha is 14.

A high school JROTC at the dedication of the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.The Middle School Cadet Corps (MSCC) program at the K-8 school is part of a growing trend to militarize middle schools. Students at Lavizzo are among the more than 850 Chicago students who have enlisted in one of the city’s 26 MSCC programs. At Madero Middle School, the MSCC has evolved into a full-time military academy for kids 11 to 14 years old.

Chicago public schools are home to the largest Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, which oversees the MSCC, in the country. When moving up to high school, Chicago’s graduating eighth-graders can choose from 45 JROTC programs, including three full-time Army military academies, five “school-within-a-school” Army JROTC academies and one JROTC Naval academy.

Proponents of the programs tout leadership training and character development. But critics quote former Defense Secretary Gen. William Cohen, who described JROTC as “one of the best recruiting services that we could have.” Rick Mills, the director of Military Schools and JROTC for the Chicago Public School system, dismisses these concerns. “These kinds of programs would not be in schools if there weren’t kids who wanted it, parents who supported it and administrators who facilitated it,” he says.

The elementary school cadet corps is a voluntary after-school program that meets two or three times a week. Programs differ from school to school, but MSCC students generally learn first-aid, civics, “citizenship” and character development. They also learn military history and take field trips to local military bases. Once a week, students wear their uniforms to school for inspections. Tarsha describes buffing her uniform shoes in preparation for inspection days. “Everything has to be perfect,” she says. During drill practices they learn how to stand, turn and salute in synchronization. When they disobey an order, they do pushups. “Only 10,” says one administrator.

Joanne Young, a sixth-grade teacher at Goethe School in Chicago, recently wrote a letter to the local school council protesting the implementation of the cadet corps in her school. “I was told that it is not a military program, yet every aspect of it is military,” she wrote. “This program is training our students, as young as 11-years old, to march in formation and carry guns. … Students could be suspended for bringing something that appears to be a weapon to our school, yet we are handing them fake guns for this program.” Young, like many other teachers, feels that leadership and discipline could easily be taught in other types of after-school programs.

Herman Barnett, director of Lavizzo’s award-winning MSCC program, asks the public to give the students the benefit of the doubt. “They don’t look at it as getting ready for the army,” he says. “They’re just doing it for entertainment and fun.”

In 2002 the Bush administration passed the No Child Left Behind Act with a small, unpublicized provision: Section 9528, “Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information,” requires high schools to give all student contact information to the military. Most students aren’t aware they can opt out by filling out a form.

Ranjit Bhagwat, an organizer for Chicago’s Southwest Youth Collaborative, has worked with students at Kelly High School in Chicago to inform their classmates about the provision and how to opt out. The Kelly group, founded in January, has already convinced more than 10 percent of the school’s population to sign the opt-out petition. Bhagwat says the group targeted military recruitment because the students felt the military’s presence in their school was an issue that needed to be addressed. “They had a problem with the fact that there were a lot of lies the military told,” he says.

The MSCC and JROTC programs are funded by the Defense Department, which has a $3 billion annual recruitment budget. Recruitment officers roam high schools promoting the image of a secure military career and enticing students with promises of money for college.

The “lies” mentioned by Bhagwat include the reality that, on average, two-thirds of recruits never receive college funding and only 15 percent graduate with a four-year degree. As for a “secure” career, the unemployment rate for veterans is three times higher than non-veterans.

Opponents of the JROTC program also cite ethnic profiling, arguing that the military targets students from minority and low-income areas. The Chicago Public School system is 49.8 percent African American and 38 percent Latino. Students coming from low-income families make up 85.2 percent of Chicago’s student population. JROTC director Mills is correct when he says the racial and socioeconomic status of those in Chicago’s JROTC program reflects the school system as a whole, but only five schools in all of the more affluent Chicago suburbs have JROTC programs.

Military recruiters are known for their flashy tactics: television ads, omnipresent brochures, recruiting ships, trucks and vans, and even a free Army video game kids can download off the Internet. Yet, the Army hasn’t met its recruitment goals in three months. The Marines haven’t met their quotas since January. Suspicious recruitment tactics are in the headlines and Army recruiters took off May 20 to retrain in the ethics and laws of recruitment.

Meanwhile, Mills insists the military does not look to JROTC groups for students to boost its numbers. “I get absolutely no pressure from any of the services,” he says. “None.”

Only 18 percent of graduating JROTC seniors are considering joining the service, says Mills. He does not have statistics on how many of the 71 percent that go on to post-secondary school stay with the ROTC program. Lavizzo’s Barnett also says that not all of his middle school students move on to JROTC programs in high school. Tarsha, however, has already signed up. While she wants to be a lawyer and is not planning on joining the armed forces when she graduates, the 14-year-old says, “If I were to join the military, I would be ready for it.”



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