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From Draft NOtices, September - October 2000


November 7 election could provide an important lesson for students, parents and the general civilian community.

While most attention is focussed on the races for national and state offices that will be decided by voters this November, some of the most significant decisions will actually be made at a much more local level in school board elections — particularly in San Diego.

When it comes to factors determining the political and social climate of this country, the most basic factor of all is the way that young citizens are socialized into accepting or rejecting the status quo. And the most intense part of that socialization occurs in the school system, where young people learn values and lessons that will affect their attitudes and behavior far into the future.

The military knows this, which is exactly why they target our schools. The Pentagon is not just looking for a few qualified enlistees — it is pushing its way into K-12 schools on a massive scale in order to influence the political and social climate in this country. As a result, the prospects for progressive social change could be diminished for many years to come.

In San Diego, as in some other communities, there has been a strong effort to limit the activities of the armed forces in our public schools. Complaints over aggressive recruiters and violations of family privacy led the San Diego Unified School District to stop releasing student directory lists (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) to recruiters in 1993. With San Diego having a reputation for being one of the most militarized places in the U.S., and the city being the 6th largest in the country, this was a major setback for the armed forces. While there have been a few other setbacks for recruiters in San Diego over the last decade, none have been as significant as the loss of access to student lists.

The main barrier keeping the military from regaining the ground it lost is the San Diego City School Board. A slim majority has, until now, resisted intense pressure from the Pentagon, local recruiters, the County Grand Jury, the Greater Chamber of Commerce, veterans organizations and conservative politicians who are demanding that the ban on recruiter access to student lists be withdrawn. School Superintendent Alan Bersin has sided with the military and is aggressively trying to make the district more cooperative with recruiters.

The November 7 election could decide the issue. School trustee Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, a critic of the superintendent and strong supporter of preserving the present policy on student lists, is being challenged for her school board seat by Julie Dubick. Dubick, a corporate lawyer, is a personal friend of the superintendent and is being supported with major funds from the business community (the Chamber of Commerce was prevented from giving official endorsements). Two other trustees are up for reelection, Ron Ottinger and Ed López. Ottinger has been trying to work out a deal to give the military at least partial access to lists and has been a strong supporter of the military’s JROTC program. López has been fairly silent on the issue of the military in local schools, but has frequently sided with Ottinger on key issues and declined to respond to a survey that asked for his position on student lists. The opponents of Ottinger and López — Tonja McCoy and Augie Castille, respectively — did respond to the survey and indicated their support for keeping the lists private.

In the general November election, San Diego registered voters will be able to cast ballots for all three school board seats. At a minimum, a victory for Zimmerman is crucial to protecting San Diego students and schools from the military’s assault on individual privacy and the principle of civilian rule.

For more information on the candidate survey, contact Project YANO, 760-634-3604, or email For information about Zimmerman, contact Frances Zimmerman for School Board District A, 7209 Monte Vista Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037, 858-729-0594.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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