Military Recruiting Test Ensnares Over 600,000 Students a Year
Sam Diener is Co-Editor of Peacework.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was administered by military recruiters to 688,016 students in 12,473 high schools nationwide in fiscal year 2004-2005, according to data obtained from the Department of Defense by Peacework through the Freedom of Information Act.
Military recruiters "sell" the free test to schools claiming that it will help students make career decisions. In reality, the ASVAB is a Trojan Horse, as it includes the entire content of the Armed Forces Qualifying Test. Once a student has taken the ASVAB, her or his test scores and contact information are routinely handed over to military recruiters. The recruiters then call students, typically saying that, based on a personalized analysis of their results, they are uniquely qualified for particular military occupational specialties.
Analyzing the data on ASVAB frequency by state reveals that US colonies, southern states, and rural areas in the west and Midwest, are disproportionately targeted by military recruiters wielding the ASVAB (see www.peaceworkmagazine.org).
Schools can choose to administer the test or not, and though the military claims it is a voluntary test, students are often told it is compulsory. Activists can convince school authorities to drop the test, to inform students that it is voluntary, or to choose "option 8," meaning that recruiters will not be given the contact information of test takers. Most school administrators are unaware of these options. For example, according to Arlene Inouye of the Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools, in 2005-2006, 39 regular high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (out of 49) gave the ASVAB, and only 2 schools chose Option 8 -- in each case, as a result of activism.
Student activists can be particularly effective. For example, according to antiwar.com, students in Lindale, GA, with only a weekend to prepare, leafleted the students at their school on November 20, 2006, and convinced an estimated two-thirds of the students not to take the test.
Peacework is making several spreadsheets of ASVAB data available for download from www.peaceworkmagazine.org. The data includes the number of students who took the test in each grade from every school in the country that administered the test in fiscal year 2004-2005. With this database, parents, students, and activists can explore which schools in their region allow military recruiters to administer the ASVAB, and focus our efforts on schools targeted most intensively by recruiters. For more information on the ASVAB, please see the American Friends Service Committee's Youth and Militarism page; to download flyers, see www.militaryfreeschools.org/jrotc.