"Schools exist for the purpose of educating our children."
This was the cry of John Cullen, spokesman for Parents Against
Military Recruiting on Campus, at a recent Claremont Unified School
District Board meeting in California. Cullen founded the parents
group last year when his son came home from middle school talking
about a man in uniform who was teaching kids about weapons of
destruction, and he later learned that toy dog tags and pro-military
posters were given to students as gifts. Cullen felt something
is wrong with a school system that teaches children violence and
weaponry, and inculcates militarism in people still too young
to choose a career, let alone a violent career. He was concerned
that the speeches and gifts were priming youth for military recruitment
when they enter high school. Parents Against Military Recruiting
on Campus aims to stop recruiters from selling the military to
students, and to make parents aware of the fact that they can
prevent their child's name from being sent to recruiters during
the last two years of high school.
Parents Against Military Recruiting on Campus has spoken at School
Board meetings, protested a career day at El Roble Middle School
that included military representatives, leafleted other parents
to spread awareness of these issues, and made recommendations
to the Claremont Unified School District about military involvement
on campus. The first recommendation made to the District was to
not allow military representatives or recruiters on the El Roble
Middle School campus for any reason, career day or otherwise.
The second recommendation to the District was an outline of steps
that principals, teachers, administrators and counselors should
be directed to follow if the district decides to maintain an "active
military recruitment of the children under its stewardship,"
(1) Providing equal access to career centers for placement of
Parents Against Military Recruiting on Campus brochures and other
materials regarding peace-oriented educational and career opportunities.
(2) Providing equal access to bulletin boards and other surfaces
where recruiting or Selective Service System materials are posted.
(3) Informing coordinators of school career fairs to invite Parents
Against Military Recruiting on Campus if military displays are
to be included.
(4) Requiring schools to notify Parents Against Military Recruiting
on Campus of any and all school visits by representatives of the
military or Selective Service System, giving Parents Against Military
Recruiting on Campus equal opportunity to address students.
(5) Barring newspaper advisors, principals and all other school
officials from interfering with Parents Against Military Recruiting
on Campus attempts to place paid advertising in student newspapers.
(6) Barring military representatives from handing out inducement
Parents Against Military Recruiting on Campus had three goals
in these recommendations to the School District: (1) to obtain
a public statement from the District regarding its current military
recruiting policy, (2) to place a review or revision of such a
policy on a meeting agenda during July 2004, and (3) to implement
revisions in the policy by September 2004.
Cullen and other Parents Against Military Recruiting on Campus
activists have pointed out to the School District that the current
school policy "giving free reign to military recruiters .
. . goes far beyond what is required by equal access law
and by the No Child Left Behind Act" and that it is not the
business of the School District to actively recruit children for
the military. Also, at one school board meeting, Cullen cited
the decision by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in COMD's
1980s equal access lawsuit that declared the promotion of military
service as a political action rather than an economic one, clearly
rebutting the military's stance that they are merely offering
career information to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old children. Parents
Against Military Recruiting on Campus will participate in a career
day at El Roble Middle School this year, presenting the career
of activism to students.
The organizing being done in Claremont is an important addition
to the activities in Southern California by other recently formed
groups and long-time organizations like COMD and the Project on
Youth and Non-Military Opportunities. If this network continues
to grow and develop, the region could become a significant base
for counter-militarism work in the middle of one of the largest
concentrations of military presence in the world.
Information sources: Daily Bulletin, April 3, 2004;
Claremont Courier, June 12, 2004.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org)