Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Assembly Bill 1778, legislation
that would have required California high schools to redesign their
student emergency cards to help parents and students opt out when
school lists are given to military recruiters (see the July-September
The reasons Schwarzenegger gave for not signing the bill were
in a veto message to the legislature:
State and federal law already require school districts to notify
parents of the types of student information that they release
to the public. The notice must include an explanation of a parent’s
right to request that the information not be disclosed without
prior written consent and the method and timeline for making
such a request. Ultimately, I believe that schools should maintain
the flexibility to develop their own procedures to ensure compliance
with state and federal laws without the state dictating how
procedures are implemented.
Schwarzenegger’s veto message suggests that he was misinformed
about at least one aspect of the existing federal law on opt-out.
Contrary to his assertion, the language of the existing law does
not require schools to give a specific method or timeline for
students and parents to exercise their right to opt out. The lack
of such guidelines is one of the reasons why the bill was introduced
by Assemblyperson Sally Lieber.
COMD criticized this bill because it was too narrow to provide
adequate protection from aggressive recruiters and would thus
mislead parents and students about the amount of privacy gained
from opting out of the school lists given to recruiters. The military
has other ways to gain access to student information in schools,
especially via the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
(ASVAB), a test that is given in two-thirds of all high schools.
To be effective, an opt-out bill would also have to stop the military
from using the ASVAB to circumvent opt-out.
The reasons Schwarzenegger gave for vetoing the opt-out bill
would not apply to a bill limiting ASVAB testing because there
is no federal law giving parents or students the right to opt
out when ASVAB test information is released to recruiters. What’s
more, the ASVAB violates the California Education Code, and possibly
basic contract law, because it involves schools in an effort by
an outside group to secure protected information from students
who are under the age of 18, without parental consent. (The ASVAB
provides recruiters with a student’s name, contact information,
Social Security number, gender, race/ethnicity, and individual
answers to the test questions.)
Though the governor’s veto of AB 1778 may now make it more
difficult, COMD will work with other groups to get legislation
introduced next year that would curtail the use of the ASVAB in
California high schools.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org)