Lauren Bans of the Nation reports the newly formed Educators to Stop the War met earlier this month in New York. One item on the agenda — military recruiting in the schools.
“In various ways, the conference’s many workshops took up the same question: What is happening at high schools and campuses nationwide to propel large numbers of youth to join the armed forces? According to many participants, Interest in the military among youth can be traced to Bush’s flawed education policy. In the months following the 9/11 attack, while Bush forged ahead on military proposals, nearly all the domestic issues on the agenda were thrown to the wind, except for one — Bush’s education reform: the No Child Left Behind Act.
“Somehow, a military initiative snuck its way into the education bill. Within the 1,200 pages of NCLB lies a little-known provision that requires public schools not only to allow military recruiters to set up in school but to hand over students’ contact information to recruiters. And while the provision does include an ‘opt out’ clause for students, it is even less publicized than the provision itself. Many students have no idea their information is up for grabs in the first place. Last year, only an estimated 2 percent of students chose to protect their information. One of the major workshops of the conference was dedicated to organizing a more effective campaign against recruitment in schools and to making sure students know they don’t have to disclose their information.
“More fundamentally, the conference explored the reasons young people are so vulnerable to military recruiters on school campuses–that is, the lack of alternative paths available to them after high school… By cutting financial aid for college, Bush’s 2006 budget proposal reinforces the Catch-22 that many high schoolers face.”