Mainstream Media Finally Reports on the Militarization of America’s Schools

March 12th, 2018 - by admin

Pat Elder / National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy & The Economist – 2018-03-12 01:41:47

Special to Environmentalists Against War

The Tide it is a Changin’
Mainstream media starts reporting on
the militarization of America’s schools

Pat Elder / National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy

Students using an interactive whiteboard, part of an ambitious technology plan in the Kyrene School District in Arizona. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times.

There have been three remarkable breakthroughs in the last month regarding the media’s willingness to report and comment on the alarming process of the militarization of America’s high schools. For more than a generation, the corporate media has imposed an apparent moratorium on in-depth reporting on deceptive, school-based DOD recruiting programs.

The Associated Press, after years of nudging, CMP’s 990.

In an equally surprising development, the Economist magazine reported on high school firing ranges associated with JROTC military programs that operate in thousands of high schools.

The British publication, a flagship of the neoliberal order, asks in its headline, “Should the army subsidise high-school soldiering?” This is an unthinkable development, similar to the magnitude of a presidential visit to Pyongyang or the overnight unleashing of trade war.

In a third development, USA Today reported on SkoolLive, a military-funded scheme that conspired to place interactive 6′ kiosks in America’s public high schools. The critical article raised objections to the military’s practice of circumventing state and federal laws while prompting children to upload sensitive, personal information. SkoolLive has taken its website offline.

We hope to see reporting soon on the CMP and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, (ASVAB), a fraudulent military testing program in 12,000 schools. Of course, there are several dozen other despicable practices perpetrated by the US Military Entrance Processing Command in our nation’s high schools that also deserve to be outed.

ASVAB — Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy
* The ASVAB is the military’s 3-hour enlistment exam.

* About 700,000 students in 12,000 high schools now take the ASVAB across the country every year. In mid-February, 2018 we expect to receive FOIA information from the Pentagon detailing all schools across the country where the ASVAB is administered for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Check back for recent data on your state.

* Military regulations say the primary purpose of the ASVAB “Career Exploration Program” is to find leads for recruiters.

* The ASVAB provides coveted information the Pentagon cannot purchase or find on social media regarding the cognitive abilities of kids.

* The ASVAB also collects social security numbers, a practice prohibited by many state laws.

* The military proctors the test with the assistance of school staff. If the schools gave the ASVAB, the results would be deemed to be educational records and thus, subject to FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law that calls for parental consent before information on children is released to third parties.

* Unless you live in Maryland, Hawaii, and New Hampshire, ASVAB results are the only student information leaving your state’s classrooms without parental consent.

* Students in nearly 1,000 high schools across the country were required to take the ASVAB while others were encouraged to do so during the 2013-2014 year.

* To prevent testing information from reaching recruiters, schools must tell the military before the test that “ASVAB Release Option 8” must be used for ALL the students who are tested. Option 8 means the military can’t use the results to recruit kids.

* See the military regulation here.

* Schools select release options, not parents.

* Just 20% of the high schools across the country select Option 8 for their students who take the ASVAB.

* Maryland, Hawaii, and New Hampshire have laws mandating Option 8 while 2,000 additional high schools have selected Release Option 8.

* Many states allow high school students who fail mandated exit exams to take the ASVAB as an alternative assessment.

Should the Army Subsidise High-school Soldiering?
An unresolved question is being asked
again after the Parkland shooting

The Economist

(March 1, 2018) — In 2016, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), a Pentagon-funded programme that provides military-style training to high-school pupils, notched up its centenary. The occasion was marked with balls, dinners and fun runs. Today the mood among JROTC units is less celebratory.

On February 14th a former JROTC cadet opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 14 students and three teachers. When the shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was arrested by authorities, he was wearing a polo shirt emblazoned with the JROTC crest. As if this were not enough, days after the shooting it emerged that in 2016 Mr Cruz’s unit had received $10,827 from the National Rifle Association.

This is not the first time the JROTC has faced public scrutiny. Parents and advocacy groups have criticised the programme, which offers courses in military history and marksmanship, for steering pupils towards the armed services rather than higher education. Such recruitment efforts, they say, target pupils in poor minority neighbourhoods.

The JROTC programme is also costly. The Department of Defence spends $370 million a year supplying about 3,500 public high schools with textbooks, uniforms and equipment, but local school districts pay half of instructors’ salaries. Some parents say the money would be better spent on something other than marching and shooting.

Military top brass chafe at the suggestion that the JROTC is chiefly a recruitment scheme. But for many years the programme’s funding fell under the recruitment-and-training section of the Pentagon’s budget. And in 2000 William Cohen, then defence secretary, told congressmen that the JROTC was “one of our best recruiting tools.”

The claim that JROTC programmes are aimed at poor minority schools also has some truth to it. A recent paper by the RAND Corporation, a think-tank, finds that among schools with JROTC programmes, 57% of pupils are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches and 29% are black. At schools without JROTC, these figures are 47% and 12% respectively.

Supporters argue, however, that these are precisely the students that benefit most from JROTC. In 1992, at the behest of General Colin Powell, President George H.W. Bush doubled the size of the JROTC, expanding the programme into America’s inner cities.

A military-style education, it was argued, would provide disadvantaged pupils with structure and discipline. Since the JROTC’s expansion, several studies have found that the programme is associated with stronger academic results, including better attendance and higher graduation rates. Many pupils say the programme has changed their lives.

Whether the JROTC also leads to greater gun use is less clear. Many JROTC cadets take marksmanship courses and compete on rifle teams (most use air rifles, which fire pellets, rather than actual firearms, which use gunpowder).

There are more than 2,000 high-school rifle teams registered with America’s Civilian Marksmanship Programme, a gun-safety advocacy group.

In the aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, in which 12 students and a teacher were killed, Chicago’s public schools ended JROTC rifle training because it clashed with the city’s “zero tolerance” gun policy. That was not the case for Smithfield-Selma High School in Smithfield, North Carolina. In 2016, the school made headlines for converting an unused greenhouse into a 1,200-square-foot on-campus shooting range. It cost $10,400.

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