Is this a recruitment center or a high school?
No Child Left Behind, one of many cases of absurd doublespeak in a long line of brutal blunders. What does that have to do with war, or peace, for that matter? Because section 9528 of No Child Left Behind is a recruitment clause, stating that military recruiters must have equal (equal, not privileged) access to high schools as other recruiters, and that schools must turn over student contact information or risk losing their federal funding. Students can opt-out, but many places don’t give students the option, bury the information in the stacks of forms at the beginning of the schoolyear or in the student handbook, and turn over their phone numbers and addresses ensuring a long year of recruiter harassment as recruiters try to meet their quotas for enlistment as the war drags on.
Berkeley High, in California, is one of the few schools in the country refusing to take away student rights to privacy by turning over their information without their consent. Now the government is threatening to sue, or actually cut off their federal funding, because the school is insisting on students making a conscious choice.
Around the country the counter-recruitment movement has been growing for years, with opt-out education one of the largest efforts. Fighting the militarism of our schools and our youth to fuel the war machine is crucial to ending the cycle of violence both here and abroad. Groups like CAMS, the Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools has been educating their community on opt-out, while working toward a policy of opt-in similar to that used at Berkeley High.
Our folks in New Jersey have been pushing Governor Corzine to create a uniform statewide policy for students to be able to opt-out. You can sign their petition to the Governor here.
No Child Left Behind is up for reauthorization this year. Of the many things that need to be addressed and changed within this Act, we must push for a reversal of opt-out to opt-in. In the House, Congressman Mike Honda has introduced the Student Privacy Protection Act and will hopefully be able to add the bill to the reauthorization of NCLB. We must put pressure on the Senate committee to include opt-in language in their version of the bill, send an email to the committee to protect student privacy.
Let’s take back our halls for learning rather than recruitment. We are not your soldiers!