Countering Military Recruitment in Schools
Pat Elder of the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) points out that the military's total Active Duty Accessions for fiscal year 2007 were 181,172, and the total Guard/Reserve Accessions were 138,057, for a total of 319,229 people who entered US boot camp. This works out to over 874 people per day, over 36 per hour, or one recruit every 99 seconds. We have our work cut out for us.
One method the military is using to obtain recruits is the Armed Services Vocation Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. After consulting with Peacework about how we obtained data on the test via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Philadelphia Inquirer filed its own FOIA and published its results on August 6, 2008. They found that in 2006-07 11,900 schools gave the test to 621,000 students. The results of Peacework's FOIA indicated that 688,016 students had taken the test in fiscal year 2004-2005. This indicates an encouraging drop -- still, the Inquirer reports, over 9% of all accessions are directly traceable to recruiters contacting ASVAB test-takers. The Inquirer is making available a searchable database so that you can find information about the schools which administered the test in your region.
Earlier this year, DAWN successfully convinced a school district in Maryland to choose "Option 8" under which the military will not receive student contact information for ASVAB test-takers. For materials to initiate similar local campaigns, see www.counter-recruitment.org.
Another effective military recruiting tool for the Pentagon is the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen called it, "one of the best recruitment programs we could have."
After a long campaign, the San Francisco School Board finally voted in 2006 to phase out JROTC from the district. Now, the military has fought back, placing an initiative on the November 2008 ballot in support of JROTC. A number of prominent anti-war activists wrote an open letter urging support for the campaign against this initiative. They wrote, "The school board took this action because, after years of war in Iraq, the people of San Francisco do not want military recruiters in our schools, and do not support a program that discriminates against the lesbian and gay community with its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies. JROTC costs San Francisco taxpayers nearly $1 million per year."
It is important to the national movement against military recruitment that we win this vote, but the campaign badly needs financial support. No Military Recruitment in Our Schools, 2467 - 28th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94116. Those contributing $25-$99.99 must provide a name and address. Those contributing $100 and above must also provide their occupation and employer.