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The Right to Recruit

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Under the No Child Left Behind Act, school districts that receive federal funding are required to give military recruiters student directory information. In addition, the federal law also guarantees military recruiters the same access to high schools as colleges and employers, including making on-campus visitations.

Critics say recruiters paint an unrealistically rosy picture of military life — especially during wartime. Is it only fair that the military be given access to schools that reap the benefits of federal funding? If so, should recruitment efforts be more closely regulated, and parents more routinely informed of their right to prevent the release of their child's information?

16 Comments

Recruiters should be able to come to high school campuses to talk with students. Military life offers opportunities to gain skills and discipline that will assist young people in most career choices. Military life can be the door of opportunity for many students who might not have finances to go to a quality school right out of high school. For others, it can give students the opportunity to "try" out a job before dedicating time and money to that job.

First, military recruiters ought to be allowed to recruit in high schools as often as college recruiters - no more, no less. But, let's not have high schools become branches of local recruiting offices. Regarding the promises made by military recruiters, let's have a little "truth-in-advertising" when it comes to promised college aid and acquiring job skills that are (not) easily transferable to the civilian world. Guidance counselors ought to inform students that there are constructive
alternatives to the military (Americorps, various peace and social justice organizations) and that there are numerous resources for obtaining money for higher ed other than joining the military. Finally, let's arm our students with the truth. We should do no less as the decision to join the armed forces may indeed be a life and death issue.


alternatives available


alternatives to joining the military (Americorps, various peace and social justice organizations) and that there are plenty of financial resources available so that one does NOT have to join the armed services to obtain money for higher education.


The issue is not what the military recruiters say because many colleges paint a rosey picture yet research shows it takes over 5.3 years to earn a 4 year degree and retention rates (graduation rates) for state colleges ranges from 30% to 70% over a 6 year period. And common knowledge from our own experiences such as Enron suggests that corporate America is not necessarily the most truthful.

Let's focus on the real issue equal access to information. If colleges and employers have access to both information and students, then military recruiters should also have the same access.

What is interesting is that those opposed to military are applying selective reasoning through their own inherent prejudices or what some may call discrimination.

One imporant issue IS what recruiters say. Colleges and corporate America may misrepresent themselves, just like the armed forces, but there is rarely the risk of DEATH from going to college or beginning an ascent of the corporate ladder after graduation.

I don't think recruiters should have access to student information, unless students provide it willingly, but then, I don't think colleges should either. (I feel the same way about direct mailings to adults but think minors should have an expectation of privacy, just like w/ the media and the legal system)

It is the school and counselor's job to provide info to students about opportunities available to them after high school. And I agree w/ the comment above about alternatives like the peace corps. College and the military were the only two options anyone ever told ME about.

IMVHO,

Before this provision to allow military recruiters on campus was added to the Title IX section of NCLB, the Patriot Act of 2001 (enacted by Congress 40 days after 9/11) was drawn up to include military access to student records. This would make it easier to find recruits, or rather "draftees" depending on your point of view.

Recruiters' actions do need to be monitored. A week ago, a military employee came to the weight room at my son's high school. Dressed in sweats and under the guise of being a "workout buddy", he got the kids talking about their fitness, how many lbs. they could lift, etc. This insidious attempt to circumvent the system in place to protect a child from military meddling into their student records must not be allowed.

As many of us know by now, Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey was promised a “rosy future”, and was then shipped off to Iraq. He came home in a coffin. I’m sure there are other, similar stories from other mothers who have lost their children.

The military actively “preys” on teenagers from lower socio-economic groups by going to where the kids hang out (malls, for example). For kids who want to escape sub-standard living conditions, i.e., under- as well as un-employment, lack of education, gang turf wars, and exposure to diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS related to drug-use for a “better future”, they can be easily taken in by the “rosy picture” painted by seemingly “greedy” recruiters.

Regardless that a school accepts government funding or not, I believe the school should have the right to bar military recruiters' access to their campus based on their discriminatory practices against homosexuals.

Fortunately in our community, the high school does let parents know of their right to "opt-out" of allowing access to their child's school records by the military by writing a letter or filling out a special form available at the school’s front office. However, this only means that military recruiters have to obtain the parents' permission first. It's important for parents of high school juniors and seniors to know: NOT ALL STATES OR SCHOOLS WILL TELL PARENTS OF THIS OPTION! Parents need to advocate for their children by asking their school A LOT of questions!

I don't know what the consequences of "just saying no" to the military would be.

Thanks for the opportunity to sound off,

“Concerned Mom”

The military can be a viable option for some students. At the same time, some students are lured in with promises that are not met. It would make sense that all sectors, colleges, employers, and military receive the same access, without favoring any. The problem is that in some poor rural schools the only ones on campus are the military. These students don't get to see all the choices. And often in the smaller schools there are no full time counselors to help the students sort through the information and come to a considered decision. Often times the parents are not much more educated than the students, or they are not informed of what is happening at the schools. These students need an advocate. Especially, as so many have mentioned, the difference between military and colleges and employers is the death factor.

I am obviously biased toward the military; I started my military career as a High School Seaman Recruit and retired with a Master's Degree in finance and as an 05. Recruiters in school should be treated no differently than recruiters for colleges, universities and private industry. The decision whether to join any organization should be left to the student and parents. And, most jobs in the Navy do have a civilian equivalentancy with greater education opportunities than most civilian occupations. Students enter the workforce directly after graduation seldom receive the education and job skills available to military recruits.
Yes, the military is a dangerous occupation, but there are few other occupations where the ability to learn, travel, develop judgement and leadership skills and generally grow in maturity as in the military.

Choose to "Opt Out Your Child", from military recruitment lists if you want to protect your families privacy. Because of NCLB, schools are not only required to allow military recruiters on campus, they must also provide personal information to the governments' JAMRS database for all 16-25 year olds. To obtain the forms to "opt out" your son or daughter, go to www.leavemy childalone.org
One form is sent to the pentagon and one to your superintendent.

In reply to "Susan/parent" who wrote:

"Choose to "Opt Out Your Child", from military recruitment lists if you want to protect your families privacy. Because of NCLB, schools are not only required to allow military recruiters on campus, they must also provide personal information to the governments' JAMRS database for all 16-25 year olds. To obtain the forms to "opt out" your son or daughter, go to www.leavemy childalone.org. One form is sent to the pentagon and one to your superintendent."

I became aware of the Leave My Child Alone website through Working Assets.com. However, I drew the line at sending the Pentagon any information about my child. This would be like replying to an e-mail spammer to "opt-out" of receiving spam...now they know it's a functioning address. Before that, they were working in the dark.

I'd like to keep the Pentagon "in the dark" when it comes to my child's future. A signed form in the district or school office will have to be enough.

Under the guise of rooting out terrorists, the Pentagon has been secretly collecting data on this target group (our **American** children) since right after 9/11. In June 2005, the Defense Department hired "a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students to help the military identify potential recruits in a time of dwindling enlistment in some branches".

No offense to the retired navy man, I'm happy for you. I have a friend who had a great career in the military...in the 20 years prior to 9/11 (great timing for him, he was already retired by then). Except for the first Gulf War, it was otherwise a relatively peaceful time, as I recall. Plenty of time "to learn, travel, develop judgement and leadership skills and generally grow in maturity..."

However, it's all in one's perception. Today's 16-25 year olds will have these same opportunities in the military, but under completely different circumstances. Their opportunities to "grow and mature" will come at great peril to their health. This isn't the world I want to live in, nor do I want our children having to defend it. This isn't how I see my child's introduction to adulthood.

I am refraining from expressing my opinion about the "justness" of this war as I don't feel that would be pertinent to the discussion of military recruiting here. What is at issue are our civil rights and civil liberties. With the Patriot Act as well as language in NCLB, the government is chipping away at our privacy. Just because we have the technology doesn't mean we have to use it covertly on our own citizens.

I don't believe this is what the founding fathers intended when they wrote the Bill of Rights, technology or no technology.

Sincerely,

Liz, a Concerned Mom

As a teacher in a lower socio-economic level school, I do not object to the recruiters as for many of our students this is a viable choice for them- it is the way they go about it that concerns me. When a student or the student and his/her parent has said "No, we are not interested" that should be the end of the conversation, but many times the recruiters come back again and again and want to talk with the student. Parents do have the right to let their school counselor know that they do NOT want any information released on their child to the military or to any one else.

The military, like colleges, should have the right to recuit on campus. We live in a nation that tends to forget that we have to have a military whether we choose to believe it or not. Anytime a young person joins the military, he takes the chances of going to war. That ultimately is what the military is for. Recruiters always paint a rosie picture and young people should realize that going in, just like college recruiters paint a rosie picture.

Regarding concerned mom, a couple of points. In fact, studies show that military members are disproportionately drawn not from economically disadvantages, but from middle and upper income levels. The image of the military as poor minorities is leftover from the prevolunteer days.
It's an interesting comment that the military "preys" on young people from "substandard living conditions, gangs...". I was in the military for 11 years. Hated it. But the conditions were far preferable to the conditions of those the military "preys" on. A living wage, good living conditions and free healthcare. Scholarship opportunities, the expectation of career advancment and opportunity (the single biggest cultural improvement for that group of young people.). These groups don't get duped into the military, they join by volunteer, and reup by choice because they like it. My experience is with the modern military.

Oh, an additional benefit of the military....no one will be breaking down your door and hauling your child off at gunpoint in the middle of the nightfor forced conscription. No one will persecute you for expressing your view. Freedom isn't free, it's trite but true. You think that the government simply ASKING your child to consider contributing to that safety is too intrusive. IMVHO the words "rights" or "liberties" should never be used without the word "responsibilities".

To restate a couple of the original forum questions and my responses:

"Is it only fair that the military be given access to schools that reap the benefits of federal funding?

Currently, a case involving a group of law schools questioning this very argument (the Solomon Act) is being heard in the Supreme Court. The schools are not allowed to discriminate, yet the military does. The schools don't endorse this type of treatment and they are making a stand against these practices by not allowing military recruiting presence on their campuses. I'd say that yes, the schools have this right whether they accept federal funding or not. Supposedly the federal government doesn't endorse discrimination either, so it would seem to be a conflict of interest for these schools to allow any organization on their campus that does.

"If so, should recruitment efforts be more closely regulated, and parents more routinely informed of their right to prevent the release of their child's information?"

Yes!! The whole point of my original statement was that this provision to allow military recruiters on high school campuses did not generate with NCLB...it came about just 40 days after 9/11 when Congress hastily (in my opinion) passed the Patriot Act!! It was only added to NCLB when IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.

I don't know many people who read through these congressional documents. Nor do they read the fine print on most documents, and this slipped past many parents at the time. So yes, the military's actions do need to be monitored.

If you're following current events, you'll know that the Patriot Act was revisited this week in Congress before the "sunset clauses" become permanent. Since 9/11, we continue to learn more and more about the government's abuses of power: warrantless searches, holding "suspected" terrorists (many of whom are American citizens) without due process, the Pentagon's secret database collection of personal data on 16-25 year olds that was started in *early* 2001, for which they are getting nailed for now....shall I continue?

I stand by my statement above, "What is at issue are our civil rights and civil liberties. With the Patriot Act as well as language in NCLB, the government is chipping away at our privacy."

It is every citizen's right, as well as responsibility, to question unethical practices at every level. To blindly follow leaders that do not care about our most vulnerable citizens, our children, would not be a responsible course of action. If the recruiters are painting a rosy picture, how are inexperienced and relatively naive 16-18 year olds supposed to know what's real or not? If recruiters have to lie to get recruits, doesn't that seem to illustrate the problem we're attempting to parse out here?

As far as having my door broken down in the middle of the night...it's happened in the United States so don't fool yourself that we're safe from our own government. Remember Elian Gonzales? That poor child was terrorized in his own bedroom in his family's home in Miami by gov't agents!

There was also the case in Ruby Ridge, Idaho in August, 1992 that involved Randy Weaver. While attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Mr. Weaver, deputies shot and killed his wife and son. In August of 1995, the civil suit filed by the Randy Weaver family "against the United States and its employees" was settled by the Department of Justice. Although the government admitted no wrong doing, the surviving three children of Vicki Weaver each received $1 million and her husband Randy received $100,000 to resolve $200 million in claims filed by the family.

It seems pretty obvious that there was some wrong doing on the government's part, whether they admitted to it or not. It may not have been the regular military that committed these actions, but it hardly seems to matter when government employees use guns to raid American homes.

These events are all justification for monitoring the military more closely, as well as requiring them to be upfront and inform parents truthfully about their children's potential futures.

It's true that the "No Child Left Behind" Act requires schools to provide some access to recruiters, but many schools go far beyond what is required.  Even worse, most schools allow recruiters to tell only one side of the story and to regulate themselves -- letting them in schools is like giving the fox a pass to the hen house.

Young people are attracted to the promises of money for college and training in specific jobs, but, according to the Pentagon, fewer than half of enlistees receive ANY money for college, and promises of training and specific jobs often prove meaningless.

Schools should be safe places for students to learn, not places where slick salespeople con young men and women with false promises. This is especially true with those military recruiters who pretend to care about students, but will say and do almost anything to meet their quotas of new recruits for war.

Most cases of recruiting misconduct are never reported, but the Army alone substantiated over 300 cases last year. Recruiting misconduct includes everything from deception in the recruiting process (common) to helping recruits falsify records or cheat to sexual assault on high school students (10–15 cases a year).

Students complain that recruiters are in their schools frequently -- and in many schools, they are allowed to approach students at lunch or in the halls. Some schools even allow recruiters to give the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) military test during class time.

Why do schools allow recruiters to get away with such behavior? The handbook for the School Recruiting Program tells recruiters how to cultivate influence with teachers, coaches, and counselors to secure "ownership of the school". And their efforts pay off.

But, you say, recruiters are offering real career opportunities. To me, this is one of the silliest arguments -- do you know any other job where you can't quit or change your mind, but the employer can ignore their promises and extend the contract whenever they want?  Do you know any other job where they can call you back even after you've moved on, started to raise a family, and found a stable job? Even more important, do you know any other "career" where you're trained to kill people -- including innocent civilians -- and to obey orders without question?

Parents need to tell school officials and school boards and legislators to end this parasitic relationship and get back to what they're supposed to do: provide an environment where students can learn.

PKC

Well said Peter, thank you.

After my last post, I googled the phrase "military members are disproportionately drawn" and came up with some interesting sites that back up what you wrote about instructions for recruiters, and the misinformation they spread. USA Today pointed out that yes, whites are found more prevalently on the front lines or in other riskier jobs. However, the article also brought up issues of "lingering racism" that prohibit blacks from becoming fighter pilots, etc. Black enlisteds tend to select jobs in Administration, for example, thinking this will train them for work outside the military.

Another site, The International Action Center at http://www.iacenter.org/ lists numerous links related to "Information, Activism, and Resistance to U.S. Militarism, War, and Corporate Greed,
Linking with Struggles Against Racism and Oppression within the United States".

I found ""College Not Combat" - Recruiters OUT of our schools!", a link that took me to www.NoDraftNoWay.org. I was surprised to see such a proactive and organized effort fighting the draft, which is not now active, but according to state Selective Service officials, could be brought up to speed very quickly. There's more to the site than that, however.

On the NoDraftNoWay.org page, if you scroll down you'll find
New Downloads:
"The Army Handbook for High School Recruiting", and "The Truth Behind Recruiters' Lies"

The first is an actual army document. Part of it gives recruiters month by month instructions of tasks to accomplish, e.g., "Chapter 5 Calendar of School Activities (Month-by-Month) Overview".

For April the instructions are, "Ch. 5-10. April
Training, ideas, and resources.
a. Continue involvement with the chamber of
commerce.
b. Arrange now for next SY’s ASVAB testing
dates with the school administrator.
c. *Track and field meets begin. Offer to be a
timekeeper or a coach’s assistant.* (* added)
d. *Baseball season starts. Offer assistance
to the coach.* (* added)
e. Followup with school administrators to ensure
USAR scholar/athlete nominations have
been submitted to the Rctg Bn advertising and
public affairs section."

I was shocked to read "Attend as many school activities as possible. Offer your Army training and experience, your sports and hobby knowledge, etc., as a resource to the school. In general, attend events in uniform; of course, if you are coaching a sport or working in a shop, you should dress appropriately."

This is exactly what my son described to me when he came home from working out in the weight room! They just insinuate themselves into the school environment whether the parents agree to their presence or not. Let me reiterate: "YES!! Military recruiters do need to be regulated and monitored!"

Schools have had so many responsibilities "dumped" on them besides teaching. I'd like to think they would be willing to get back to "providing an environment where students can learn."

Thanks for your well written post Peter. Obviously, the military is not for everybody, just like college won't be for every student, or a blue collar job won't be for others. But that's okay, the world needs all types of people doing all types of work.

Liz

Ruby Ridge? Elian Gonzales? These had nothing to do with the military. When you throw all these conspiracy theories into one basket of THEM vs US you tend to get lost like thisand sound a bit silly. People in the military aren't any different in their love of freedom and liberty than you are. In fact, unlike you, they are willing to die for it. Don't you DARE insinuate that they are part of some conspiracy to abridge your rights.
Mr Crownfield, you think military people are trained to obey orders without question? Boy, do you have a niave Sunday Night Movie view. Hardly. In fact, military people are drilled over and over about international laws, discrimination, diversity, and what constitutes lawful orders. There's essentially zero concern in the United States about the risk of military coup precisely because these "citizen soldiers" value rights and freedoms. Amongst military circles, about which you clearly know very little, the US military non-comissioned officers and junior officers are FAMOUSLY free thinking and autonomous. This is one of the widely considered strengths of our military.
Ruby Ridge?

Concerned mom...you try to point out that minorities are disproportionately recruited to be thrust in harm's way..then complain that minorities are discriminated against in the military for spots such as pilots (harm's way)...they opt for more marketable positions like administration. So which is it? Do they get thrown on the front line or do they get admin jobs that translate to civilian skills? And if they "select" jobs, you must be aware that they DO have influence over their careers and assignments (and, in fact they do have such influence).
Jeez, these people aren't mindless fools manipulated by the system. What a racist assumption! These people evaluate their options, investigate the military, and join if they so choose. And overwhelmingly reup. Why would that be? Are they, unlike you, to stoopid to know any better? You ought to go meet a few of these people before you make such sweeping judgmental statements.

Ruby Ridge? You are so blinded by hate for the people who leave their homes and their kids to do the hard work of making America strong that you blame them for every sin you can think of.

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