ACTION ALERT: Stop Recruiting Children to Join the Army

March 15th, 2018 - by admin

Pat Elder / National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy & Nafeesa Syeed and Chloe Whiteaker / Bloomberg – 2018-03-15 00:58:43

Special to Environmentalists Against War

ACTION ALERT: The Pentagon Is Struggling to Recruit Soldiers
Pat Elder / National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy

(March 13, 2018) — Pat Elder writes:

The US Army alone is trying to recruit 11,500 more soldiers this year than last. The Army now has 9,400 recruiters, mostly in the high schools, and they’re having great difficulty meeting their 80,000 quota.

A little math here — Each recruiter must bring in an average of 8.5 youth per-year and they’re having one hell of a time doing it. Part of the problem is the low unemployment rate, but the other part is an increasing unease among school officials to let the wolves roam freely. We must focus more on the schools. A great battle is raging.

Low US Unemployment Is
Making Army Recruiting Harder

Nafeesa Syeed and Chloe Whiteaker / Bloomberg

(March 13, 2018) — The lowest unemployment rate in a decade is good news for Americans, but bad news for an expanding US military.

To meet President Donald Trump’s goal for a bigger military, Army recruiters are seeking 80,000 more men and women willing to join the Pentagon’s largest service as deployments continue from Iraq to Afghanistan. That’s 11,500 more soldiers this year than in 2017.

Working against the military is the US jobless rate. Initial jobless claims were at the lowest in almost five decades last month. The US economy added 313,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent.

Though the Pentagon has managed to meet its recruiting targets in recent years, unemployment rates below 6 percent — the norm since late 2014 — are seen as a key factor undermining those efforts.

To meet Trump’s goals, the Army has added 400 recruiters to the 9,000-strong force it already employs. Hundreds of millions more dollars are also going toward offering perks to lure recruits. There’s even a “quick-ship bonus” for those willing to go to basic training within a month. People ready to take on hard-to-fill jobs in engineering and cybersecurity can also get more money.

“Our recruiters are aware of the difficult environment they’re working in,” Kelli Bland, a spokeswoman for the Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky, said in an interview. “But it’s not something that we can’t overcome.”

Another challenge is lack of knowledge about the military, Bland said. Army research shows about 50 percent of youth know nothing about the military and can’t name most branches.

Recruiters are boosting efforts to win over “influencers,” such as high school principals and teachers, who can become advocates for joining. The effort includes “educator tours” to bases, where they can climb into helicopters and talk with pilots to learn of opportunities.

Such moves follow decades of studies on how recruitment is affected by the civilian economy, according to Beth Asch, a senior economist at Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, California, who researches military manpower.

“When the unemployment rate goes down — as it has been — military enlistment goes down as well,” Asch said in an interview. “There’s a positive relationship.”

The pool of applicants is also shrinking. Thanks to high rates of obesity, drug use, criminal records and failing grades on the Army’s aptitude test, the pool of eligible recruits is just 29 percent of the available population of 17-to 24-year-olds.

The last time the Army had to recruit 80,000 people was in 2008, when the global financial crisis made a steady military paycheck an easier sell. While the national unemployment rate is low, there are still pockets where joblessness persists and recruiting may prove easier. Last year, Alaska had the highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, followed by New Mexico at 6.2 percent.

ACTION: Here’s something pretty simple you can do. Demand that Your State to Allow Parents the Option to Protect Kids from Military Recruiters in High Schools.
Please click here to send an email to your state legislators and governor.

ACTION: Consider Using this template to send a letter to your local or state school officials.

Pentagon Recruiting Playbook Revealed
Pat Elder / National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy

(July 15, 2017) — Ominous developments in three states this summer — Oregon, Texas, New Jersey, and one city — Chicago, provide a glimpse into the Pentagon’s new playbook to recruit soldiers from high schools across the country. In brief, the military has been engaged in a robust lobbying campaign to lower academic standards to make it easier to recruit youth.

New recruits have long been required to hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. This requirement is a major impediment to finding enough soldiers to meet annual targets, but even when struggling students barely manage to graduate, the Pentagon has developed a plan to marshal more of them into the military.

The Oregon Department of Education recently endorsed the Oregon National Guard’s Credit Proficiency Program for use in high schools across the state. The program gives juniors and seniors the chance to earn academic credits while training for military service at Oregon National Guard facilities.

The program is expected to cut the state’s dropout rate while increasing the on-time graduation rate. In 2015, Oregon’s 74.8% graduation rate was the third lowest in the country.

Under the program, if a senior in high school realizes a few weeks before graduation that he doesn’t have enough credits to graduate, he could enlist, go to Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), and those pesky graduation requirements are satisfied. Some are even allowed to walk with their graduating class.

Juniors may enlist in a split training program by attending Basic Training for 11 weeks in the summer to earn high school credits, returning to school as a senior, graduating, and then attending AIT.

Press reports announcing the Oregon Department of Education’s endorsement of the military program have repeated the blatant lie that “some school systems have taken a stance against allowing military recruiters to be active on their campuses.” There is no record of a single public high school in Oregon that forbids military recruiters. To do so would jeopardize federal funding.

In New Jersey, where students must pass senior year exit exams to graduate, school officials will allow seniors to earn a diploma if they can manage a score of a 31 on the military’s enlistment test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. A 31 on the ASVAB is the lowest score the Army will allow. It is equivalent to an 8th-grade mastery of English and Math.

DOD regulations say recruits must be high school graduates or GED-holders.

Remember Dylan’s:
“Join the army, if you fail!”

Now, it’s:
“Join the Army;
we’ll make sure you pass,
‘Cause that’s the way
we’ll get your _ss.”

Military planners have long complained that too many high school dropouts were precluded from becoming soldiers. There were 8,000 high school drop outs in New Jersey alone in 2016.

Meanwhile, New Jersey has an 89% on-time graduation rate. Allowing students to score a 31 on the ASVAB may be expected to help with drop out and graduation rates while significantly lowering standards.

Nationally, the “status dropout rate” stood at 5.9 percent in 2015. The “status dropout rate” is the percentage of 16-to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or a GED).

This group is of keen interest to the recruiting command. Relaxing high school graduation standards will help to ease the current crisis in recruiting. This is part of the Pentagon’s game plan in all fifty states.

The Texas Legislature recently passed a law, SB 1843, that requires all high schools in Texas to offer the ASVAB Career Exploration Program, “or a similar vocational aptitude test.” The Army’s recruiting commander in Dallas led the successful lobbying campaign.

The alternative aptitude test “must assess aptitude for success without college, be free to administer, require minimal support and training from school faculty, and provide a professional interpretation of the results.” The ASVAB is the only instrument that meets the bill. Soon, nearly all high school students in Texas will be required to take the military’s 3-hour enlistment test.

Recruiters receive ASVAB scores, social security numbers, and detailed demographic information through the administration of the test.

At first blush, however, it appears that if the ASVAB becomes an officially mandated testing requirement, “It would mean that the military would be acting as an agent for the school and would thus have to comply with laws protecting pupil privacy (e.g., provisions of FERPA and NCLB/ESEA),” explained Rick Jahnkow of Project YANO in San Diego.

The ASVAB Career Exploration Program, therefore, could only be administered as a graduation requirement if it is given under ASVAB Release Option 8, meaning that results cannot be provided to recruitment services. Otherwise, parents would have to give written permission to release the test data to recruiters.

ASVAB results are currently the only student information leaving American schools without first providing for parental consent. Meanwhile, The Pentagon refuses to sign on to the Student Privacy Pledge, an effort to safeguard student privacy regarding the collection, maintenance, and use of student personal information.

Another Texas law, SB 1152 allows high school students to receive up to four excused absences from school when pursuing enlistment in any branch of the armed services and it provides for an additional opportunity to take the ASVAB at Military Entrance Processing Stations.

Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school system in the country with nearly 400,000 students, will withhold high school diplomas unless students have a job, college, or military plans lined up. The program, Learn. Plan. Succeed will require students to meet at least one of the following requirements in addition to regular credit requirements, to graduate:
* a college acceptance letter;
* acceptance at a job program;
* acceptance into a trades pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship;
* acceptance into a “gap-year” program;
* current job/job offer letter;
* a military acceptance/enlistment letter.

The last point is problematic. This horrendous social engineering scheme will disproportionately shepherd black and brown students into military service. For many entrenched in deep poverty, college and “gap-year programs” are out of the question.

Job and trade programs are complicated and have limited offerings. Jobs, especially for those lacking essential skills are limited, but the military is always an option and it will soon become a more attractive one in Chicago.

The United States Military Entrance Processing Command is having trouble finding enough recruits so they’ve turned to working with legislators and school officials to approve laws and policies that’ll make it easier to find new soldiers.

Oregon will allow those who cannot graduate to complete coursework through military service. New Jersey will allow kids with abysmal academic records to graduate if they can pass a military exam that requires them to have an 8th-grade education.

Texas kids will have to take the military’s enlistment test and they’ll get four excused absences for exploring military careers. In Chicago, even if students meet the academic requirements to graduate, a program requiring additional hoops is likely to funnel large numbers to recruiters.

It’s time for a national discussion on military recruitment, something not likely to happen while the media moguls continue to ignore this important story.

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