From In These Times: 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.
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.” Read More