October 2004

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Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.

Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.

Trading Books for Soldiers: The True Cost of JROTC

  JROTC students drilling
JROTC class, East Boston High School, April 2004. Photo © Hannah Zwirner.

A new study by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds that the true cost to local school districts for hosting Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs is often much higher -- in some cases more than double -- the cost claimed by the Department of Defense. The report questions whether during a time of tight school budgets, with many local school districts struggling to meet students' basic needs, local school districts nationwide should be spending more than $222 million in local tax dollars on JROTC personnel costs alone.


JROTC Is a Military Recruiting Program, Not a "Way Out"

From the American Friends Service Committee and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. For more information on JROTC and on the military's campaign to install new JROTC units in hundreds of high schools around the country, contact CCCO at or 800/NO-JROTC.

According to Lt. Commander Ray Kempisty, Public Affairs Officer, national headquarters of the Naval JROTC, "Approximately 50% of all NJROTC program graduates enter military service." Army JROTC figures are similar.

The military is not a "way out" for low-income youth. The Department of Defense advertises financial aid for college. However, between 1986 and 1993, the military actually took $720 million more from GIs in non-refundable deposits than they paid out in college benefits, according to a report in Army Times. Military job training is also a myth. Only 12% of male veterans and 6% of female veterans report using skills learned in the military in their current jobs. In fact, according to the Veterans Administration, veterans overall earn less than non-veterans, 1/3 of homeless men are veterans, and at least 20% of Federal and state prisoners are veterans.

Even former Secretary of Defense Cheney admitted, "The reason to have a military is to be prepared to fight and win wars. That is our basic fundamental mission. The military is not a social welfare agency, it's not a jobs program." JROTC is a program of the military, by the military, and for the military. Disguised as an education program, JROTC is a Trojan Horse the military uses to gain access to schools and potential recruits.

The report, Trading Books for Soldiers: The True Cost of JROTC, presents an analysis of hidden costs to school districts considering hosting JROTC while comparing the cost-effectiveness of JROTC to non-military educational programs.

Trading Books for Soldiers contains JROTC salary data acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, case studies from local school districts, a primer on components of JROTC cost and tips for investigating school district spending on JROTC.

Among the report's conclusions:

JROTC programs cost local school districts substantially more than the cost estimates the military provides to schools.

The relative costs of JROTC courses, compared with academic subjects, may be even greater due to the fact that a JROTC instructor team carries a lighter teaching load than a single high school teacher in non-military subjects.

Personnel Costs

During the 1998-99 school year, the estimated personnel cost to a host school for the salaries of a typical instructor team (two instructors) was $76,000, more than twice the military's estimate. The military's published estimate of the cost for one JROTC instructor team is $28,000 to $32,000 annually. The discrepancy between these two estimates is because the military's estimate does not include significant components of an instructor's salary, namely fringe benefits and bonus pay.

Some programs employ more than two instructors. In addition, school districts with multiple JROTC programs may be required to hire a retired officer to supervise them.

Other Hidden JROTC Costs

Insurance, facilities renovation, and transportation all contribute to additional costs school districts must bear to provide these programs, yet rarely do they figure into cost estimates provided local school boards when the program is being considered.

Soldier photographs students
On the first day of school this year in Worcester, Massachusetts, schools received free tickets for all students to "Spirit of America," a military "recruitment extravaganza" at the Worcester Centrum. Outside, this soldier photographed students in front of a military vehicle. He then asked the kids for thier e-mail addresses, "so he could send them copies of the picture." More photos and information on the event and on the local protests at Worcester Indymedia ( Photo© 2004 Kevin Ksen.

The report also finds that JROTC instruction is more costly on a per-pupil basis than academic, non-military instruction. School district investment in JROTC represents a trade-off for students. Continued investment in military programs reduces funds available to support programs such as college preparatory classes, art, sports, and conflict resolution training, or to reduce class size and expand student counseling services.

Trading Books for Soldiers is the third in a series of investigations of JROTC programs undertaken by the AFSC's Youth & Militarism program. Previous reports include Making Soldiers in the Public Schools: An Analysis of Army JROTC Curriculum and Is JROTC a Wise Use of Class Time?, which examines how colleges and universities view JROTC course credit.

The reports are available for $3 per copy ($2 each for 10 or more) from AFSC, National Youth and Militarism Program, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102-1479; 215/241-7176.

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