Thursday, October 29, 2015

Do Military Recruiters Belong in Schools?

Great article by Seth and Scott, published in Education Week:

Published Online: 
Published in Print: October 28, 2015, as Do Military Recruiters Belong in Schools?

Do Military Recruiters Belong in Schools?

The United States stands alone among Western nations in allowing military recruiters to work inside its educational system.Section 9528 of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act requires that public high schools give the military as much access to campuses and student contact information as is given to any other recruiter. However, University of Kansas anthropologist Brian Lagotte finds that school officials do not fully understand this policy and often provide military recruiters unrestricted access to their campuses. Many schools allow military recruiters to coach sports, serve as substitute teachers, chaperone school dances, and engage in other activities. In some cases, recruiters are such a regular presence in high schools that students and staff regard them as school employees.
The military does not advertise what it is doing in public schools. But for the past four years, we have been researching those who make it their business to closely monitor the actions of military personnel in schools: parents, students, military veterans, and citizens affiliated with the grassroots "counter recruitment" movement. Many of them told us that state education commissioners, district superintendents, school principals, and other policymakers react with surprise at their efforts to rid schools of the undue influence of military personnel. In fact, most public officials are unaware of the extent of the military's presence in education settings and the ways in which the Pentagon can access private data about high school students. Until now, there has been a lack of hard data describing the extent of military involvement in schools.
Last year, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the U.S. Army provided us with documents about recruiter activities in Connecticut high schools during the 2011-12 academic year.
The data offer only a snapshot of what recruiters for one service branch—the Army—were doing in one state. Certain trends emerge that should be of concern to educators and parents everywhere, however.
At a number of Connecticut high schools, Army recruiters are present—in one form or another—on a weekly basis. This kind of blanket coverage could only be possible with the Army's enormous recruiting budget: $338 million in fiscal year 2013. In contrast, most college recruiters do not have these kinds of resources to be in schools with the same regularity.
The data also suggest that schools with a high proportion of low-income students serve as a magnet for the military. Take the example of two similarly sized high schools in two Hartford suburbs: Avon and Bloomfield. Army recruiters visited Avon High, where only 5 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, four times during the 2011-12 school year. Yet at Bloomfield High, where nearly half the students qualify for such assistance, recruiters made more than 10 times as many visits. Other examples of school-based recruiting efforts challenge widely held beliefs about equality of opportunity. If we are serious about promoting higher education to all students, why do some youths see far more khaki and camouflage than college brochures?
There's another reason to be alarmed about the largely unregulated presence of military recruiters in education settings. Research shows that teenagers are at a stage in their development when they are impulsive, apt to engage in risky behavior, and uniquely susceptible to persuasion. Hence, a number of participants in our study framed their opposition to school military recruiting as a form of child advocacy. The leading association of public-health scholars has also endorsed this narrative.
In 2012, citing the latest neuroscience research and underlining how the health risks of military service disproportionately impact the youngest recruits, the American Public Health Association passed a resolution urging schools to more closely regulate military-recruiter access. While it is unlikely that he was familiar with the scholarly literature, several years ago a New Haven 5th grader summed up this view in an interview with Junior Scholastic magazine: "If people are not allowed to drink alcohol until the age of 21," he said, "they should not be able to make a decision that could cost them their lives until at least that age." The military holds a different view.
For the military, access to high schools is all-important because, in the words of its own officer corps, youths represent their "target market" and high schools "the primary source of Army applicants." School access is essential to military recruiters precisely because that's where young people can be found five days a week. In fact, the Army's recruiter handbook notes that among key community institutions—churches, civic organizations, businesses—schools have the most significant "impact on recruiting."
"Most public officials are unaware of the extent of the military’s presence in education settings."
Given the way military recruiters rely on unfettered access to public schools and students, it would be unreasonable to expect them to voluntarily scale back their activities. But educators, parents, and activists have an important role to play in pushing for reform. Our research, supported by other scholars and community organizations, indicates that common sense is needed to protect youths from military recruiters and restore a sense of balance to the career choices being promoted to students.
If recruiters are to remain in schools, we suggest public school districts across the United States adopt the following policies:
• Districts should require military recruiters to remain in one part of the school only. In too many instances, they are allowed to roam the hallways in search of students, or often sit with students eating alone in the cafeteria. We think most school officials would balk if a recruiter from another organization expected such access. Military recruiters should be held to that same standard.
• Districts should limit recruitment visits to one per branch of the military per year. As shown in Connecticut, weekly visits by recruiters to individual schools are common. Students in public settings should not be overexposed to information about just one potential career path.
• Restricting recruiter visits to schools is important, but to make this policy effective, "visits" should be broadly defined to include any activity by a military recruiter in which student contact is made. This would include not only traditional table set-ups, but also activities like classroom presentations by military personnel.
• Districts should require recruiters to fully disclose the health risks of military service. Among the more than 800 Texas high school students who told researchers Adam McGlynn and Jessica Lavariega-Monforti that they had had contact with military recruiters, 86 percent said they were never told about the possible risks of military service. At the least, recruiters should be required to tell students that if they join the military, they may end up in combat.

Efforts to regulate the presence of recruiters invariably produce strong opposition. The military and veterans' groups claim that such sensible reforms are "anti-military" and undermine the ability to recruit new service members. But advocates, parents, and teachers who wish to protect students should not be intimidated. This is not about being for, or against, the military. It is about ensuring that high schools do not become de facto recruiting stations, and that all young people have equal access to educational opportunities.
• To ensure these rules are followed, a designated military monitor should be present at all times when recruiters interact with students. Such a policy has been successfully implemented in the Seattle public schools, where the Parent Teacher and Student Association, or PTSA, assigns a parent to monitor the military during school visits by recruiters.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Policy for Recruiters on high school campuses in AISD

Yesterday, October 26, 2015, the AISD School Board passed the following policy regarding military recruiters in the schools.  This adds several new measures to the policy that has been in place since 2006.  Among them is requiring that all schools that administer the ASVAB test now use Option 8 in their use of the test results.  Option 8 in the ASVAB Counselor's Manual stipulates "No recruiter contact from this listing of student results.  Results not released to recruiting Military Services."  If students who take the ASVAB wish to use their results toward enlistment, they can do so on their own volition.

We thank AISD staff who met with us over the past year to move the process along, and we trust that the new policy will be communicated widely to recruiters, their command units, school counselors and all school staff who can provide oversight to make sure the policy is followed.

 The following guidelines shall apply to recruiters on District campuses:

1. All recruiters shall first report to the campus administrative office to obtain a visitor’s badge each time they visit school property. 

2. The principal shall designate specific areas on each campus for recruiting purposes. Recruiting may not occur at school athletic events or other school-sponsored events, unless specifically authorized by the principal. 

3. Recruiters shall not continue ongoing contact when a student makes it clear by speech or other conduct that contact with the recruiter is unwelcome. In no event may recruiters meet with a student under the age of 18 years off campus without the written consent submitted to a campus administrator by the student’s parent or guardian. 

4. Evidence of a parent’s or guardian’s intent to provide directory information upon request shall be respected. [See FL] 5. The Armed Serves Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test shall be administered according to the same terms and conditions as other aptitude tests administered within the District. District schools shall select “Option 8” on the ASVAB test prior to the administration of the ASVAB at the school to ensure consistency with the opt-out provisions for release of contact information to the military. 

6. Recruiting of any kind shall not be permitted at a time, place, and manner that disrupts classroom instruction. Recruiting in a classroom or other designated space shall be acceptable if it is at the invitation of authorized school personnel and part of a school-approved program. 

7. Schools shall allow information regarding recruiting, including recruiting by the military and those advocating alternatives to the military, to be made available to students in an equivalent manner and location. 

8. Recruiters shall not solicit student contact information directly from a student or require such information as a condition to participate in an activity or to receive an award or gift.

 If a visitor fails to comply with the general rules or guidelines set out in this policy, the principal or other campus administrator may deny the visitor access to the campus. If a military recruiter fails to comply with the guidelines set out in this policy, the principal or other campus administrator may contact the military recruiter's supervisor to report the failure to comply and request that such individual not return to the campus.

Monday, October 26, 2015

SOY tabling with the Akins Eagles

banner in the school foyer

SOY peace team at Akins HS

Penny Poll results showed the largest vote for Education with approx. 30.2% of the pennies, followed by 24.5% for Health Care, 21.4% for Military, 16% for Environment and 7.5 % for Humanitarian Aid 

Student responses to poster questions

student responses to poster questions

Last week, we had a great visit to Akins High School during their two lunch periods.  We set up in the breezeway outside the cafeteria and had about 50 students complete our t-shirt challenge.  The questions we asked students generated some good discussion.  This was our debut of the new t-shirts we ordered from Aztec Printing (who did a great job), and both designs were popular.
New SOY shirts!

When we are on campus, we like to read the school newspaper, and the Oct. 7 issue of "The Eagle's Eye" had some great articles and opinion pieces by students.  One article that was especially inspiring was about a new program at Akins called "Restorative Circles."  Some classes such as AVID And SEL (Social Emotional Learning) are incorporating the circles as a way for students to share feelings and better understand each other.  As the writer explains,  "The circles provide a chance for students to speak their mind or talk about things that are going on in their lives.  The topics can range from something as simple as, 'how is your day?' to something more serious like,'what's the hardest thing about being a teenager?'  Students don't joke around about anything said."  According to the article, the circles are being tried partly as a way to prevent fights.  This sounds like a great idea, and we hope this first year of student participation in the circles goes well.

We didn't know about the Restorative Circles when we wrote up our poster questions for the t-shirt challenge, but the student responses seemed to reflect some of what they may be discussing in the Restorative Circle sessions. We noticed a banner saying that October is "Domestic Violence Awareness Month," so our questions about fighting were in conjunction with that.  We hoped students would also think more about the connections between domestic violence and violence in larger realms, such as foreign policy.

Thanks to all Akins Eagles who stopped by our table, did some research and offered their ideas and opinions.
T-shirt challenge questions for Akins HS


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Peacemaker Essay Contest!

We just learned about this Peacemaker Essay Contest.  It's sponsored by the Bethany Seminary, but the essay doesn't have to have a religious focus.  Check it out:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bulldogs are Peace Strong at Bowie HS

Thanks to the Bulldogs at Bowie HS, we had a great visit during lunch with our SOY materials and the t-shirt challenge that drew good participation from students.  We were glad to have the opportunity to engage in some discussion about causes of war, ideas for war prevention, and connections between militarism and environmental destruction.  The Penny Poll results from 57 student participants showed these priorities:  30% of the budget for Education, 25% for Health Care, 20% for the Environment, 13% for Humanitarian Aid and 12% for the Military.  Once again, if students could determine federal spending priorities, we could have higher education paid for all who wished it and health care provided for all who needed it.  We hope that students will think critically about why the actual US budget is so contrary to the will of the people.
In response to the question "What are some of the root causes of war?" the words that were most common were: water, money, oil and power.