Articles Mast

From Draft NOtices, October-December 2006

California Governor Vetoes Opt-Out Bill

—Rick Jahnkow

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 Draft NOtices).

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 (


About Us - Articles - Draft NOtices - Youth - Militarism - Publications - Products - Links - Contact - Home