Military Recruitment in Our Schools- Students’ Rights and an NYCLU Guide

High School Junior ROTC
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) reports, “The US Military is aggressively recruiting young people for military service.”  “Recruiters,” the NYCLU states, “often target immigrants, students from poor families and people of color.” The targeting of teens in low income and minority communities is an acknowledged and accepted practice, according to a former military recruiter with whom I spoke.
The military often assigns recruiters to meet with students at local high schools. Schools must allow this, by federal law, if they permit job or college recruiters to meet with students.
High schools routinely provide the military the names, addresses, birthdates, and telephone numbers of their students. This, too, is required by law.  However, students or their parents can choose to “opt-out,” preventing the school from providing this information.  Additionally, schools must inform students and parents of this right to opt-out.
In a recent survey of several area school districts, we found that there was great variation in the manner in which the law was implemented.  Some high schools, for example, permitted recruiters to visit often and to set up staffed “information tables” outside the school cafeteria.  Other schools had more stringent policies that limited the frequency and extent of contact that recruiters could have with students.  Some schools placed more of an emphasis than others upon informing students and parents of their right to opt-out.  Students and parents might want to ask about their school’s policies on these matters.  Students who wish to opt-out should be sure to check the school’s procedure and deadline for this.
There is so much violence in our society, and there are so many wars.  One of my concerns is that we need to place far more emphasis upon teaching both the importance and the means of preventing violence, in our communities and globally as well.  Teenagers are impressionable.  I believe that we need to ensure that they do not learn in school that violence and war are to be taken for granted.
The NYCLU has prepared an outstanding guide, “No Student Left Unrecruited? Frequently Asked Questions About Military Recruitment and Students’ Rights.”  This guide explains what the law requires, and provides quite a bit of very helpful information for students and parents.  The text of the guide can be accessed in English here.  It can be accessed in Spanish here.  A PDF of the guide, with opt-out forms, can be downloaded in English here and in Spanish here.  Print copies of these guides, as handy palm cards, can be ordered from local NYCLU offices.
The NYCLU website provides related information on alternatives to the military, the rights of student groups, a model school policy, and other info that may be of interest to students, parents, and others who are concerned about the militarization of youth.  A listing of topics and links to these resources can be found here.
Readers might also be interested in visiting the website of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY).  The NNOMY site provides a wealth of information about students’ rights, counter-recruitment, alternatives to the military, and related topics.
For further information about NNOMY and resources it provides, please see its entry in the Peace and Justice Online Directory of Resources.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), of course, is the national organization of which the NYCLU is an affiliate.  For more information about the ACLU, and helpful links, check out its entry in the Directory or Resources.
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10 Responses to Military Recruitment in Our Schools- Students’ Rights and an NYCLU Guide

  1. When the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth formed its counter-recruitment as a network of groups and individuals activating in school counter-recruitment work in 2003, we had an unpopular war in Iraq and an unpopular president and administration in the White House. Recruiters were struggling to meet their recruitment goals. Now, eight years later in 2011, recruitment goals are being achieved in excess of 100% due to a more popular president, a collapsing economy with few job opportunities, and a public slowly falling into resignation about permanent continual wars. NNOMY is on the verge of a national call to reinvigorate groups to engage again in returning to schools in earnest to ask students and parents to look again at this disturbing trend and to find an extended basis of appeal to not joining into ongoing militarism. The future of this movement is at stake and we need activists committed to the issue of protecting our youth from this plague of institutional violence. NNOMY needs activists like you to help spread the word to keep this issue in front of the public and alert others of this growing threat to our youth and our faltering democracy. Please help.

  2. Stop the No Child left Behind Act! Its causing rape and death to our own children! Its the biggest fraud ever to hit our schools! The biggest violation to privacy ever to be in our schools! And you can take that one to the bank!! Dammmmmmmm!!

  3. Mary Beth Moore says:

    The group ‘PACE E BENE” has an excellent workbook called “Engage” which is a 12 session curriculum to teach both theory and practice of nonviolence. I have used it twice with adult groups –in abbreviated form–and found it just excellent. The lesson plans and materials are all laid out, and any experienced teacher or presenter can use it. This would be an excellent resource for older teens. Workbook is $25.

    • Mary Beth- Thanks so much for this info. I just took a look at the Pace e Bene site. It has some good resources. Thanks a lot. I hope Peace and Justice Online readers find it to be of interest. -Bob

  4. chuck says:

    This is an ongoing concern for many of us at North Country Peace Group. Last year a number of us participated in a phone campaign that asked school officials if they were guarding the rights of their students regarding Military Recruitment. While most H.S. counseling departments were in compliance with the law a few were negligent. I wonder if there are other teachers and retired teachers who have a similar concern. Perhaps we can start with our local chapter here in Northport NY. I wonder if the chapter communication person will include this information for distribution to all retires so they can get involved if it is important to them also? I will look into it.

  5. Pingback: Military Recruitment in Our Schools- Students’ Rights and an NYCLU Guide (via Peace and Justice Online) « OntheWilderSide

  6. Charlotte Koons says:

    As a Board member of the Suffolk Chapter of the NYCLU, I urge one and all to have a few copies of No Student Left Unrecruited on hand for friends, children, grandchildren.
    The ACLU name seems to add legitimacy to the document and it does not preach, it simply informs people of their rights.

    • Charlotte- Thanks so much for pointing this out. Coincidentally, I was at an event last night, hosted by our local Vets for Peace chapter, and they had a stack of them on the lit table. The palm cards really are handy. Thanks again. -Bob

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