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Military Recruiters in Our High Schools

by Mary Gourdoux

Truth in Recruiting

Recently while clearing out clutter at home, I came across a dusty bulging accordion style case full of Manila folders labeled with the names of local school districts. Looking inside, I was taken back to the 2007-2008 school year. Two other members of the Border Peace Presence and I had decided to tackle the issue of military recruiters having access to high school students. The binder held the records of my attempts to talk to local school district administrators. And it wasn’t easy gaining access. We wanted to provide truth in recruiting flyers to students. And to make certain parents knew about their "Opt Out" options. Did you know about that option when you or your family members were in high school?

Mandated since 2001, schools that receive funding through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) must comply with the federal regulation by issuing military recruiters with a list of directory information when they request it, and provide recruiters with the same access to students that the school gives to any other higher education institution and prospective employers. Failure to do so is grounds for denial of federal funds. That means high schools must give students’ phone numbers and addresses to military recruiters. In order to keep a child’s information away from recruiters, parents must sign an "Opt Out" form. Unfortunately, there is no national standard or guideline of the methods by which schools should notify parents of this option which leaves it up to the discretion of each school's administration to determine how to spread awareness.

See the problem here. Those Opt Out forms are usually sent home in the hectic early days of the school year along with many other papers and forms. We found one district that buried the form at the end of a thick booklet on school policies. Wonder how many parents found the time to read that all the way through... As we talked with local schools, we found many counselors and administrators didn’t even know what we were talking about.

And no one seemed to question that military recruiters should have a right to even be in our schools talking to students, having lunch with them, entertaining them with video games and handing out free gifts. Talking war as a career. The military doesn’t need a draft with this kind of access.

I grew up in the army as a dependent. Changed schools 12 times. Army brats we were called. It’s an exciting life for a child although it can be tough at times. Soldiers drink a lot to cope with stress and long term separation of spouses is tough on marriages.

Military brats do learn some things about the military though. We all knew the joke about recruiters - they’ll promise you anything to sign up. Civilians don’t know this.

Fortunately, there are more groups now working on getting information out on truth in recruiting. But they don’t have the same access to students as the military. What can you do to spread the truth? Please share the following video produced by Veterans for Peace with parents and students alike. Also encourage them to visit websites discussing what being a soldier is actually like. If enough of you are interested, we could try again to get a local truth in recruiting group to visit high schools. Just imagine - stopping wars because of a lack of soldiers.

Veterans for Peace video:

More information:

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