Their school district was one of the last in the nation to resist giving personal student information to military recruiters, until the Pentagon threatened to have the government withhold federal funding of its schools. The government wants militarized schools over funded ones, apparently, and the students aren’t cool with that.
Students at Berkeley High School along with an anti-war group held a press conference near the school Monday opposing the war in Iraq and a federal policy requiring student information to be released to military recruiters.
World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime and several students held the press conference on Milvia Street and Allston Way where a petition was circulated against the war and the No Child Left Behind Act.
“We sign this letter to let the Bush regime, and especially the media, know that Berkeley High School will not accept the terms that hold our future away from our hands and disregard our privacy and personal security, and that we will not be used as tools for an unjust and imperialist war,” the letter, which has been signed by 200-250 students, states.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2002, schools are required to release student information to military recruiters. Until last month, Berkeley High School had been the last public high school in the country to withhold the information.
However, the Berkeley Unified School District decided to release the information after receiving a letter threatening to withdraw federal funds.
Instead, Berkeley High School has given students the ability to opt out of having their information passed on.
Organizers said the conference was held not just to educate students about the war and the act, but to openly display their resistance.
“The whole ideology behind the press conference was to show the resistance Berkeley High has against the unjust Bush (administration),” said Daniel Sandoval, former Berkeley High student and an organizer for World Can’t Wait. “It’s a show of resistance against the war.”
The press conference was originally to be held in the high school’s courtyard, but was relocated outside of the school as organizers said they were not allowed to hold the conference at the school.
District Spokesperson Mark Coplan said students, teachers and principals alike cannot call press conferences at the school, as only the district can officially call a conference.
Sandoval said the push toward school systems through the No Child Left Behind Act was a step toward increased government control.
“They’re militarizing our school now,” Sandoval said.