Friday, May 27, 2005

MILITARY RECRUITING AT YOUR LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL

SURPRISE CLAUSE IN "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND." Six months ago, concerned that Ben Davis High School was giving the military access to my 17-year old son's personal records, I pursued the issue and discovered--with the help of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union--that this open records access to all branches of the military was part of the "No Child Left Behind" Act of Congress. Short of working to get the law changed, there is apprently nothing an individual can do to stop it.

"OPT OUT" OPTION. The only immediate option available is to request an "opt out" before the child turns 17. This "opt out" option prevents military sources from acquiring the school records of a child when they turn 17. Our school district--the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township--did not inform parents about this option. Now several slick military recruiting mailers arrive at our home each week now. I intercept most of them (I'm building quite a stack of unopened military recruiting mailers...your tax dollars at work!), but not all. I do not know if it is now possible to stop the mailings; I am pursuing this.

POVERTY DRAFT. Of course what the military is doing is a poverty draft--preying on kids with little money and few options. Recruiters and the slick mailers don't talk about going to war, they just talk about opportunities to serve your community and country, get job skills, and money for education. They prey on the poor. That's why the income of the families of the majority of young people in the military is below the national median family income.

SHAME ON YOU, EDUCATORS! Of all people and institutions, educators should be ashamed of themselves for going along with this policy. This is, to me, similar to the vision portrayed in the Book of Revelation, in which a child being born is snatched from its mother's lap by a dragon. And the midwife? School administrators. Are you going to be hand-wringers or people who act with integrity for the best possible futures for the students you say you are there to serve?

WHILE WE WORK... Military recruiting is nasty business. But its nastiness has been intensified and brought to a high school campus in your community. Our neighborhood 15-year olds are likely seeing impressive, high-tech weaponry displayed and experiencing heavy-handed tactics by military recruiters at the local school. While we work peaceably, our nation's military--with the permission of the Congress and direction of the President we elected--is doing its dead level best to get our children to believe that their best option for their future--and the future of the nation--is a military one. Are you satisfied with this? I'm not.

HOW TO REGISTER PROTEST & "OPT OUT" OF SCHOOL-BASED MILITARY RECRUITING. Sojourners pointed me to an organization with an Internet site that let me register my protest against using the "No Child Left Behind" education act to open school records to military recruiters. It also let me send a letter to our district's school superintendent requesting that the school withhold my children's names and personal information from military sources seeking to recruit them. The organization is Working Assets, the project is called "Leave My Child Alone," and the website is http://www.leavemychildalone.org.

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