Kentucky students Opt Out, Minnesotans Fight Back

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The Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune reports that the latest recruiting battleground in the midwest are "county
fairs, street basketball tournaments and music concerts. Anyplace where
they are likely to find those in their target market: 17- to
24-year-olds." But "[recruiters] aren’t the only ones talking about a military career."

"Counter-recruiters
are out there, too, trying to drum up support for their cause and to
give young people the "real" information about what they can expect if
they join the military.

In Minnesota, a group known as Youth
Against War and Racism (YAWR) is circulating a petition aimed at
blocking recruiters’ access to students through schools. The petition
asks state and local education leaders to ensure that every student and
parent receives an opt-out form and a clear warning that failure to
fill it out this fall will result in recruiters obtaining students’
names and contact information. It also asks school leaders to stop
allowing the military to use the schools as recruiting grounds.

"The
idea is to win people over to our side, so that the recruiters are met
with such resistance when they come to the schools that they don’t see
the point in coming anymore," said Brandon Madsen, 18, a self-described
socialist and a recent graduate of Bloomington Kennedy High School.

In
addition to the petition drive, Youth Against War is planning a student
walk-out this fall to draw attention to the recruiting issue.

And students in Kentucky are also turning down recuiters, according to the Lexington Herald-Reader.  Once high school students were informed about their right to protect their personal information from recruiters, "about
4,800 [students] in Jefferson County — 20 percent of the district’s high school
students — have barred recruiters from their directory information."  Kentucky lets schools decide how much to publicize the opt-out forms, and some local peace activists want the state to go further, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"We’ve shown there’s a demand by parents not to have this information
sent to kids," said Chris Harmer, a member of the Fellowship of
Reconciliation’s Aim Higher, which opposes high school recruiting.

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