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From Draft NOtices, September-October, 2004

Claremont Parents Counter Military Recruitment

— Lorraine Demi

"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," including:

(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 gifts.

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 (


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