Monday, August 01, 2005

Some schools Like the military

The anti-recruiting forces in Seattle have been active this year, with the protest at SCCC in January, the vote by Garfield High School to deny recruiters access to the students, and the protest that I attended in May (see archives) as prime examples.

What a relief it was to read that the Federal Way school district invited the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program into their high schools.

Wait - don't get too excited yet. Check out the title of the article first :

Military classes are off course
By Danny Westneat

In Seattle, the public schools are hostile territory for the military, as parents shoo away recruiters and are pushing to bar them entirely.

In the suburbs, though, the armed forces are welcomed for more than just visits. They're teaching some of the classes.

This sounds benign, doesn't it? No big deal, just some military involvement in teaching history or something. But wait ...

Seattle is overly viperous toward the military. It's a vital institution, as well as a major source of jobs, and Seattle's schools ought to educate kids about both. Let the Army set up a booth at career day. It's better they buttonhole kids there, where they can be supervised.

But ensconcing the military inside school walls, and subsidizing it with school dollars, is over the line the other way.

But what other government agency, corporation or special-interest group gets to design what is taught in a public-school classroom, and then run the classes themselves?

Take this fall's first course. It features the role of the military in history, taught by an officer using material provided by the military. That's like having a course on environmental policy taught by Greenpeace.

First off, the school receives federal funding, so the classes are really not being paid for with 'local dollars'. Besides - the parents and school administrators feel these are valuable ... so it is their dollar to spend, isn't it?

Comparing the Military to Greenpeace is just plain silly, nuff said about that. Besides, the topics of these classes aren't exactly HUN-101.

Federal Way officials were drawn to it because it features courses in aerospace technology, a subject the schools couldn't offer otherwise.

Finally, the Ultimate Goal of JROTC is uncovered ...

It's also clear that a goal of JROTC is to groom future enlistees. Students are given information on how to sign up. The Defense Department testified to Congress in 2000 that JROTC is one of its premier recruiting devices.

Armed-forces recruiting is essential. Without it, we'd have a draft. Schools must by law allow it, but it's their duty to supervise it, not subsidize it.

There's a war on. Education devoted to exploring diverse points of view about war ought to include bringing the armed forces into our classrooms.

They shouldn't, however, be handed the keys.

Yes - the JROTC is a tool of the recruiting forces, it provides a way for youth to meet with servicemembers, to learn from them, and to explore the world of the military from their safe high school environment.

It is not, however, brainwashing. Call it a Diversity program, if that helps make it less scary.

Thanks to Ry for the hat-tip !
[Linked to Mudville Gazette's Open Post]