We tried to make this happen here in Austin when we asked for a policy limiting military recruiters. But the district’s legal counsel said that letting students opt-out exclusively from military recruiters would violate the No Child Left Behind Act. Good for them out there in Phoenix.
Kay Grams doesn’t want her 16-year-old daughter’s name going into a military recruitment database.
So last year, when the Tempe mother enrolled her daughter at McClintock High School, she was told she could ask the school to withhold her contact information from a list it gives the armed forces — but with a catch.
“I was told that by selecting that option, her name would also not be included on a list that goes out to colleges, a list for scholarships, even something with the yearbook,” Grams said.
But two weeks ago, the Tempe Union High School District governing board decided to accommodate parents like Grams. It voted unanimously to change a policy and allow teens to just “opt out” of the military contact, but still have their directory information passed on to colleges and universities.
Grams is pleased with the decision.
“It’s just so wrong that the education of our children should be linked to having their name given to the military,” she said. “It runs counter to what I would hope my daughter’s education would be … what I would want her to know about is how not to deal with your problems militarily.”
The federal No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, requires public schools to provide the military with the names, addresses and phone numbers for every high school junior and senior, unless parents choose to block the information.
Last year, some 20 parents asked the Tempe Union district to not distribute their children’s information, said Cecelia Johnson, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the district.
Some other East Valley districts, such as the Apache Junction Unified School District, still run their opt-out process as an all-or-nothing choice parents must make.
Others, like the Mesa Unified School District, currently use a process like the one adopted by Tempe Union.
Last year, however, the Mesa district made an effort to clarify the information to parents about recruitment efforts.
“We had some parents call and say that they thought that information ought to be made clearer at the beginning of the year, so we kind of beefed it up,” said general counsel Tom Pickrell. The district added a separate page about the opt-out provision in the districtwide student information packet.
In the Mesa district, 78 parents asked schools to withhold their children’s names from the military. Numbers varied greatly by school, with 34 students at Dobson High School opting out, compared to just three students at Westwood High School.
At Mesquite High School in the Gilbert Unified School District, 76 students opted out last year.
The opt-out provision is advertised differently from school to school.
Emma Burr, a senior at Tempe Union district’s Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee Foothills, said she wasn’t even aware of the fact that she could avoid having her contact information given to recruiters, who have contacted her by e-mail.
Burr, 17, opposes the war and said she would prefer that recruiters not contact her — and her peers.
“I don’t understand what makes people think it’s OK to be courting kids. We’re so young. We don’t have any idea what we’re doing with our lives,” she said.
“We’re not even old enough to make the decision to drink…. A lot of the people they talk to aren’t old enough to make the decision to vote. I think it’s highly inappropriate.”