Students organize against military recruiters in schools
As the Iraq war continues to kill and maim, and as the tours of duty (and the forced extensions) run out for U.S. soldiers, the inevitable is happening: Replacing those soldiers is become harder. With the U.S.'s economic draft, it's the young (highschool students mostly) and the poor who get drawn in to the military.
Doing the drawing, enticing if you will, of young people are recruiters who are regularly present in our high schools. With their flashy displays and their promises of money and training, coupled with their well-honed salesmanship and "friendliness" these recruiters (who sign up 40,000 students through the Delayed Entry program, at a cost of $3 billion) offer up a pretty rosy scenario of military life. Coupled with this physical access to students, the No Child Left Behind Act provided the Defense Department with the names, addresses and phone numbers of all highschool juniors and seniors. The schools must do this or face loss of federal funding.
Presently, it's been reported that if a student or his/her parents remove that name from the list, other sources who might contact the student such as colleges, other educational or training programs, or employers are also cut off. This is true for Alachua County, and probably other places as well.
There's a growing opposition to the presence, false promises, and heavy-handedness of military recruiters. On January 20th, Seattle Central Community College students walked out of class to protest the war, on the way confronting military recruiters, who claimed the crowd threw newspapers and water bottles at them. "There was just a mob of 500 people surrounding the table," one recruiter told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The recently-formed Educators to stop the war (Educatorstostopthewar.org) can connect you to resources. Likewise, students associated with the American Friends Service Committee have formed www.youth4peace.org. Locally, there's interest in starting counter recruitment tables in our schools to give an alternative point of view on issues of funding for further education, the need for informed consent so students know about their options, and that even if they sign up for Delayed Entry Program they can get out. Also, local organizers are pushing ways to opt out of the military's contact list without losing out on other educational and job opportunities.
Local contact Joe Richard can be reached at the Civic Media Center, 373-0010 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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