There are generally two distinct types of counter-recruitment campaigns
being waged in communities across the country. The first is a popular,
politically charged campaign spearheaded by a visceral reaction to the
lies of military recruiters. This approach calls for creative, forceful
tactics to confront a murderous, imperial, military machine that
recruits youth like cannon fodder. Thousands of activists have
responded to this call by forcefully demonstrating at recruitment
centers, community events, and high schools where military recruiters
often lie and deceive. CODEPINK and Raging Grannies have occupied
recruitment centers and student groups have tossed recruiters off
campus, grabbing headlines while changing public opinion.
There is a second front in the war on
recruitment that embraces an entirely different approach aimed at
persuading high school officials to reverse policies that encourage
military recruitment. This approach leaves politics aside and instead
focuses on student privacy issues. Activists engaged in this line of
counter-recruitment endeavor to convince mainstream educational
careerists to change their policies regarding several military programs
operating in the schools. They work to confront the military's most
successful recruiting tool, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude
They convince school officials to aggressively pursue
the "opt-out" provision of the No Child Left Behind Act and they help
change policies to restrain the movement of military recruiters on high
These approaches certainly aren't
mutually exclusive. Resistance may involve writing a letter in the
morning and making a phone call or two, then hitting the streets in the
afternoon with a clenched fist and fits of rage.
The No Child left Behind Act
is another name for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or
ESEA. The amendments made to ESEA in 2002 have become known as the No
Child Left Behind Act. In a nutshell, the military is invading student
privacy by circumventing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), passed in 1974 and it is getting around Section 9528 of ESEA, passed in 2002.
FERPA and ESEA. It's complicated, but this should simplify it.
The FERPA legislation
says that schools must have written permission from the parent or
eligible student (over 18) in order to release any information from a
student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose
those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the
- School officials with legitimate educational interest;
- Other schools to which a student is transferring;
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
- Accrediting organizations;
- To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies;
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.
Notice that Military Recruiters aren't on the list!
Section 9528 of NCLB changed that. NCLB says schools must provide, on a
request made by military recruiters, access to secondary school
students' names, addresses, and telephone listings.
Period. Nothing else. Just Names, addresses, and
numbers. Subsequent rulings have limited the request to high school
juniors and seniors.
NCLB also says secondary school
students, or the parents of the student, may request that the student's
name, address, and telephone listing not be released without prior
written parental consent.
The best way to illustrate how the
military is getting around the law is to provide an example. Let's take
a look at Prince William County (VA) Public Schools' policy.
See page 1: http://www.pwcs.edu/admin/pwcs/admin_pdfs/R790-4.pdf
According to their website, Prince William provides the military
directory information that includes email addresses, participation in
activities and sports, attendance records, photographs, video, height
and weight, and degrees or awards received. The same information
pertaining to graduates is released as well. Apparently, Prince William
is not abiding by the law. Is your district?
One other thing about Section 9528 of
the NCLB Act.. The law says schools are supposed to "notify parents of
the option to make a request" to remove the child's name from lists
being sent to the military. Many districts are asleep at the switch and
have failed to tell parents they can opt out.
Across the country school districts
are all over the map in their interpretation and administration of
Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act.
Some districts release names, phone
numbers, and addresses on students and graduates to the military. Some
do not. Some release information on Freshmen and Sophomores. Some do
not. Some school systems have developed specific opt-out forms for
military recruiting; some have not. Some systems mail opt out forms
home to parents; Some do not.
Some districts allow parents to use
the FERPA form to remove their children's names from lists being sent
to the military and some do not. Some districts require parents to
write separate letters to opt out and give no guidance. Some districts
allow parents to easily access opt-out forms on line, others do not.
Some school districts allow students to opt out. Some require parents
to do so. Some allow both. Some require parents to opt out annually;
some allow them to do so in perpetuity.
It's a mess.
64 members of the U.S. House of Representatives recognize the problem
and have rallied behind Mike Honda's HR 1346, The Student Privacy
Protection Act of 2007. Honda's bill would reverse NCLB Sec 9528,
effectively turning "opt-out" into "opt-in". In other words, Honda's
bill would provide the military with names, addresses and phone numbers
of high school children if their parents signed a form authorizing
That's different from the way it is
now. The current law automatically ships student info to the military,
upon a request by a recruiter, if parents DON'T act. The way Honda sees
it, if parents are eager to have military predators call their
children, they can sign a form and submit it to their high school
What can you do? Get on line and research your school system. Put
"FERPA" into the search bar. If you find discrepancies, like the Prince
William case above, contact Code Pink. You can also contact your House
member and tell her to support HR 136. Click here for sample opt-out forms in English and Spanish
Schools are required to hand over the names, addresses, and phone
numbers of Juniors and Seniors if requested by a military recruiter -
if parents or the student has not opted out. Often, school officials
and activists are under the mistaken impression that "directory
information" may be shared with recruiters. As we've seen in the Prince
William case, school districts have varying interpretations of exactly
what constitutes directory information.
The law says students or their parents may "opt out" by sending written
notice to the school district that the schools do not have permission
to share their information with military recruiters. This is one area
where FERPA and NCLB clash. FERPA allows students to withhold personal
information if they've turned 18. Section 9528 of NCLB simply says that
a student may request that her name not be released. Some school
systems follow FERPA and some follow NCLB.
How do I opt out?
First, you have to determine if your school system allows students to
opt out. Some schools provide forms for this purpose. If your school
does not provide such a form, use the Student Peace Action form above
and send it to the Principal's office.
Again, Section 9528 is vague and school systems have differing
interpretations. Some schools allow students to opt out once and for
all. Others require students to opt out yearly. The law says schools
must "comply with any request" not to release student information to
military recruiters. We interpret this to mean if you opt out once it's
a done deal.
Your school is required to respect your First Amendment right to
distribute counter-recruitment information on school property outside
of the classroom. Your school should allow you to distribute
counter-recruitment information in the same manner as any military
recruiter. If a military recruiter regularly sets up a table in the
lunchroom, students should be allowed the same opportunity. You must
also be allowed to distribute materials at other times before, during
and after school, as long as it not disruptive.
Non-student groups do not necessarily have the same
rights as students, however, and must contact the school to receive
permission to be come on campus to share counter-recruitment
information with students.
Schools may also decide when and how
military recruiters have access to the school. While they may not
prohibit recruiters from coming to campus, the school has the right to
decide where and when recruiters may have access to students.
If you feel your rights are being violated, contact
your local ACLU office http://www.aclu.org/ or your local National
Lawyers Guild office.
http://www.nlg.org/. You may be able to speak to an attorney who can generally advise you on how to proceed.
What if the school district tells me I can't or stalls my request?
Contact your local branch of the ACLU or NLG to ask for their
assistance. Many chapters are in discussion with school districts
regarding the privacy requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act.
There are several problems associated with the Junior Reserve Officer's
Training Corps (JROTC) program that is offered in many of America's
from the US Army Recruiting Command makes it clear that the JROTC
program is, in fact, a recruiting program, despite the military's
claims to the contrary.
There are generally four aspects of the JROTC program we oppose:
JROTC instructors need not be college educated or certified Teachers in public schools across the country must hold at least a
Bachelor's degree and have state certification. Most states eventually
require teachers to earn their Masters' degrees, following the
guidelines of the No Child Left Behind Act. School Districts give JROTC
instructors a pass. JROTC need only possess a GED and usually teach
for-credit courses in all four high school grades. All that is required
of them is that they "have the mentality, personality, appearance, and
bearing to represent the Army well in the civilian community." One
branch, theArmy, is taking steps to require JROTC instructors to hold
an A.A. degree by 2009.
The typically little or no curricular supervision exercised by public schools over the JROTC program There is little or no curricular oversight exercised over the JROTC
program in the schools. What are these GED-educated military personnel
teaching our children? It's not good. Call your school system to find
The textbooks are full of reactionary militaristic, propaganda JROTC is a Propaganda Tool that
distorts U.S. History to a captive audience of 500,000 American school
"What did you learn in school today?" "I learned that might makes right and the U.S. is never wrong."
See the Army's JROTC textbook to read this outrageous distortion of truth
(allow 30 seconds to download)
Examine the following brief survey of historical inaccuracies:
The words in quotes are taken from the standard Army JROTC text used in classrooms across the country.
Most high school history texts in use today discuss U.S. imperialism
when discussing the Spanish American War of 1898, not the JROTC text:
"America went to war on the side of Cuba
to help that country gain its freedom from Spain…. According to the
terms of the peace treaty, signed in December 1898, Spain gave Guam,
the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the United States and agreed to
give up its claim to Cuba. Cuba became a free nation in 1902… The
Spanish - American War helped to dim the sour feelings between the
North and South as all Americans united together to fight for one
cause. The war also proved to the rest of the world that the United
States was once again a truly united and powerful nation."
World War I: The JROTC text fails to
mention that the Lusitania was heavily armed or that the US regularly
used passenger ships to sell ammunition to the British:
"Then, in May 1915, a German U-boat
(submarine) sank the British liner Lusitania resulting in the loss of
1,198 lives, including 128 Americans. The sinking of the Lusitania
outraged the American public, and it lead the U.S. government to
officially protest the German action. However, German submarines
continued to sink ships with American cargo."
JROTC's treatment of the Korean War is
completely distorted. Korea's first President, U.S. - intalled Syngman
Rhee, was a ruthless dictator. He is associated with the Daejun and
Suwon Massacres that claimed 80,000 lives. Rhee is also implicated in
the assassinations of countless political rivals. The Koreans despised
him and he was chased out in 1960. Also, he U.S. never "withdrew from
South Korea." We're still there!
"When the Soviet Union evacuated North
Korea in 1948, they left behind a Communist puppet government that did
not allow free elections to unify Korea. In 1949, the Americans
withdrew from South Korea and left a democratic government led by
The Gulf of Tonkin incident was fabricated
by the Johnson administration to provide a pretext for war, not
dissimilar from President Bush's lies about weapons of mass destruction
"The event that marked the turning point
in the American policy in Vietnam was the Gulf of Tonkin incident in
August 1964. Two U.S. destroyers were conducting routine
intelligence-gathering patrols in international waters when North
Vietnamese patrol boats attacked them."
The U.S. murdered thousands while invading
the Dominican Republic four times in the 20th century to protect
American corporate interests:
"When a revolt broke out in the Dominican
Republic, its government requested U.S. assistance. Fearing that
pro-Communist rebels supplied by Castro might overthrow the Dominican
government, President Johnson sent in the Marines and the Army's 82nd
Airborne Division. The Americans remained in the Dominican Republic for
a year, acting as a peace-keeping force until the political situation
Obtain a copy of JROTC textbooks in use in
your schools and tell school administrators you object to this
reactionary, military propaganda.
The program counters school-based initiatives that encourage students to settle disputes nonviolently Finally, JROTC's militarism runs
counter to school-based initiatives that encourage students to settle
disputes nonviolently. At a time when schools across the country are
employing a variety of methods -- from metal detectors to peer conflict
mediation -- to curb incidents of violence in the schools, create safe
learning environments, and teach peaceful means of conflict resolution,
JROTC's introduction of weapons training, its partnership with the NRA
to sponsor marksmanship matches, and its modeling of militaristic
solutions to problems contradict the schools' stated opposition to
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), arguably the
military's most valuable recruiting tool, is a grueling half-day
examination given to 900,000 students in 13,000 high schools and
post-secondary schools every year. The ASVAB is promoted as a voluntary
"career exploration program" administered to juniors and seniors
through a collaborative effort between the Department of Education and
the Department of Defense. Many schools across the country, however,
make it mandatory for students to take the test and others coerce them
to do so. (See the partial list below.) The test represents an
egregious constitutional violation of the federal government's meddling
in state-supported educational institutions.
According to the US Army Recruiting
Command's School Recruiting Program Handbook, the primary purpose of
this test is to provide military recruiters "with a source of leads of
high school juniors and seniors qualified through the ASVAB for
enlistment into the Active Army and Army Reserve." The same document
says the ASVAB is designed to "provide high school students and their
counselors with a tool for vocational career exploration through
evaluation of students' current aptitudes as measured by the ASVAB…"
This is typical Army parlance. We call it a hook. In order to sell the
ASVAB, the Army needs this hook, so the test is being marketed as the
"Career Exploration Program." The military has been able to convince
thousands of high school administrators and counselors that the ASVAB
is valuable in helping children decide career paths. Visit the
military's official "ASVAB" website and see if you can determine what
the ASVAB acronym stands for, or if the program has anything to do with
Some schools are catching on, however.
Officials at Milan High School in Milan, Michigan came under a
firestorm of controversy after requiring all sophomores to take the
test without notifying parents. Officials there have decided to do away
with the ASVAB, substituting a Michigan-developed test. In one New
Hampshire district the number of schools offering the ASVAB dropped
from 30 to 19 in a year, amidst parental concerns about their
All children who sit for the ASVAB are
required to sign a "Privacy Statement" that gives permission to the
military to use private information and test results for recruiting
purposes. Most states, however, have laws that restrict minors from
relinquishing private information without the consent of their parents.
Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland
and Los Angeles, CA have become the first in the nation to institute
Option 8 throughout the school system. Option 8 allows the
administration of the test but precludes test data from falling into
the hands of military recruiters. Schools have 8 options regarding the
administration and release of ASVAB information. For example, Option 1
permits test results and other student information to be released to
military recruiters without prior consent, while Option 8 requires
active consent to release the ASVAB test results and private
information. Montgomery school officials cited the importance of
ensuring student privacy and securing parental notification when they
recently changed their policy. The Montgomery district also requires
students to have a signed parental permission form to take the test.
The ASVAB is a grueling 3 hours and 45
minute examination. The battery consists of 9 individual tests on the
following subjects: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic
Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, General Science, Auto & Shop
Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Electronics Information, and
Assembling Objects. Unless a school district or high school selects
option 8, the data from the ASVAB is forwarded to recruiters and to the
military's Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies Program, a
massive database that collects information on approximately 30 million
US citizens from 16 to 24 years of age.
The military has done an excellent job in
keeping option 8 a secret. Most high school principals and central
office administrators across the country are ignorant of the ASVAB
option that allows the test to be administered without the results
being forwarded to recruiting services; but the military has even more
in its favor than the ignorance of high school officials. Options
aside, ardent militarists have managed to implement mandatory ASVAB
testing in hundreds of high schools throughout the country.
Is the ASVAB mandatory in your district? Simply go to
your school system's website and search for ASVAB. See if students are
forced to take it. Contact Code Pink if they are. One way to find out
if the ASVAB is required is to perform a google search with the name of
your high school, the word ASVAB, and the word "Juniors." You may find
an article from a school website that says "All juniors must take the
ASVAB on such and such a day.."
In 2003 the Pentagon spent almost $4 billion targeting high-achieving
low income youth with commercials, video games, personal visits,
enlistment bonuses, and slick brochures.
The US military takes advantage of an economy that
increasingly squeezes out those without a college degree, while gutting
college financial aid and eliminating affordable housing.
Military recruiters never mention that the college
money is difficult to come by, or that very few job skills are
transferable from military to civilian life.
Puerto Rico is the Army's number one recruiting
territory. Capitalizing on an unemployment rate of more than 40%, Army
recruiting offices in Puerto Rico garner more than 4 times the number
of recruits US-based recruiting offices average on a yearly basis.
JROTC programs in US public schools are growing at an
exponential rate. JROTC is not considered a recruiting tool by the
Department of Defense (DoD), but the DoD encourages the relationships
between JROTC instructors and military recruiters. In spite of the
DOD's claim, more than 50% of JROTC cadets with two or more years of
JROTC experience join the military as enlisted personnel. Most JROTC
programs occur in schools in working class or impoverished communities.
More often than not those schools are also predominately populated by
youth of color.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test
(ASVAB), the admissions and placement tool for the US military, is
administered in over 14,000 schools throughout the US. It determines
whether a potential recruit is qualified for the military and for
certain military jobs. Offered free of charge to schools by the
Pentagon, the test's primary aim in the secondary school environment is
to identify pre-qualified leads for military recruiters.
There are 37,000 non-citizen, green card holders in the military. A
major incentive for them to join is that they receive a shortcut to
Citing the war on terrorism, Bush in July issued an
order permitting green card holders who are on active duty to
immediately apply for citizenship, waiving the usual three-year waiting
time. The government also created a team to quickly process citizenship
applications from the military. Such requests have since quadrupled,
from about 300 a month to more than 1,300 a month.
California produces the lion's share of these enlistees.
Half of the first 10 Californians killed in the War on Iraq have not
been citizens. Is it fair?
Critics say the government is playing off the desire for
citizenship to exploit these mostly poor immigrants - from Latin
America, Asia and the Caribbean - for the war effort. "Especially at a
time when the doors for citizenship are closing, this may be one of few
routes left," said Connie Rice, a civil rights attorney. "It's a tough
but well-worn path. Is it fair? No."
We agree. It's true that many, if not most of the
enlistees, have true patriotic feelings for America. But why should
citizenship be so hard for them to obtain--why should they have to risk
death to get it? For example, take Los Angeles City College student
Winston Leiva. He is motivated by loyalty and respect. He came to Los
Angeles at 14, joining family members who were escaping political
oppression and economic hardship in Guatemala. Out of gratitude to
America, the 29-year-old Koreatown resident said, he signed up for the
Marines and is prepared to go to war.
After living here for 15 years, shouldn't Leiva be able
to obtain citizenship any time he wanted, regardless of whether he
served in the military? Apparently not, because "Some have spent years
and thousands of dollars seeking citizenship through attorneys and
immigration consultants," recruiters say.
We think demanding service in the military as a quid pro
quo for faster citizenship is too high a price to extract from these
green card holders. What good will citizenship do for them if they die
on the battlefield before they have a chance to enjoy it?
Conscientious objectors (CO's) are people who refuse to participate in
the military and war. Some are civilians who do things like oppose war
taxes and work to reduce the role of the military in society. Others
become conscientious objectors only after they have experienced being
in the military firsthand, either during peacetime or wartime. Some
speak out publicly after having served in the military, forming a GI
If you think you might be a conscientious objector to
registering for Selective Service (the draft) or you are in the
military and you think you might qualify for a CO discharge, find out
where you can get help and information.
Click here for more info on Conscientious Objection
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. The name CODEPINK satirized the Bush Administration's color-coded, fear-mongering "security" alert system that has since been phased out. CODEPINK is a lively call for the people of the world to "wage peace." More...