JROTC is a program of the military, by the military, and for the military. Disguised as an education program, JROTC is a ‘Trojan Horse’ the military uses to gain access to schools and potential recruits.
School boards across the country, from Richmond, CA to Roane County, WV, are saying No to the Junior Reserve Officers Training Program (JROTC). They find JROTC too expensive, too controversial, too likely to promote violence, too controlled by Washington, too discriminatory, and too much at odds with the goal of creating critically-thinking students in gun-free schools. Parents, students, taxpayers, and members of the school board should all take a closer look at JROTC.
JROTC Costs Much More Than the Military Says – While the school district faces budget shortfalls and cutbacks, JROTC would drain resources from constructive programs. JROTC units cost districts an average of over $70,000 per school and often require expensive modifications to school facilities (secure storage for weapons, for example).
JROTC Increases Violence, Gangs, and Guns – Instead of an alternative to violence, JROTC brings a mindset based on violence and the threat of violence. Does this make them responsible leaders? Military training glorifies war. Cadets learn a distorted, prejudiced version of history, and 90% of Army JROTC programs train students to fire rifles or pistols. All JROTC students study military routines, traditions, and beliefs. In JROTC, too many kids learn, from instruction and example, that violence is acceptable.
Cadets in Long Beach formed a gang and murdered a student. In Detroit, a student shot another student in the hall of the school—on orders from their student JROTC leader. In Arizona, a camouflage-clad JROTC student murdered nine Buddhist monks. A San Francisco student’s eardrum was broken in a hazing ritual that had gone on for years—with the full knowledge of the instructors.
JROTC Teaches Obedience, Not Leadership or Critical Thinking – One of the primary missions of school is to develop critical thinking skills, yet JROTC promotes unquestioning obedience. Learning to march and obey without thinking does not prepare students for responsible citizenship or success in a high-tech future, but that’s what JROTC emphasizes. The Army JROTC text says that troops should “react to command rather than thought.” The Navy JROTC text calls for “loyalty to those above us in the chain of command, whether or not we agree with them.” This is authoritarianism, not leadership.
JROTC Takes Away Local Control – The Pentagon dictates JROTC curriculum, textbooks, and course content. JROTC instructors are often paid higher net salaries despite not having to meet District qualification standards. JROTC instructors aren’t required to have college degrees. They are not credentialed in the academic subjects that JROTC claims to teach.
JROTC Targets Low-Income Students – Fifty-four percent of JROTC participants nationwide are students of color, and many JROTC graduates are recruited directly into the lowest military ranks. The military targets low-income schools in the same way tobacco & alcohol companies target low-income communities. The results are equally deadly. Half the military’s front-line troops are people of color.
JROTC Textbooks are Biased and Bigoted – Most districts’ textbook-review committees would never approve JROTC textbooks. The Army JROTC textbook trumpets, “Fortunately for the Army, the government policy of pushing the Indians farther west then wiping them out was carried out successfully.” In addition to this celebration of brutal racism, women are almost invisible in JROTC textbooks.
JROTC Discriminates – JROTC discriminates against students and instructors who have disabilities or are gay, lesbian or bisexual, and immigrants. Veterans with disabilities and gay veterans are excluded from receiving the Pentagon authorization required to become a JROTC instructor.
JROTC Is a Military Recruiting Program, Not “Leadership Training” – According to Lt. Commander Ray Kempisty, Public Affairs Officer, national headquarters of Navy JROTC, “Approximately 50% of all NJROTC program graduates enter military service.” Army JROTC figures are similar. The military is not a “way out” for low-income youth. The military claims to make paying for school easier through the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). But there are several problems: First of all, to enroll in the MGIB, a soldier has to pay non-refundable payments totaling $1200. Second, most of those who sign up (and pay their $1200) get nothing back! Since 1985, 57% of those who signed up for the program received nothing!. Military job training is also a myth. Only 12% of male veterans and 6% of female veterans report using skills learned in the military in their current jobs. Even former Secretary of Defense Cheney admitted, “The reason to have a military is to be prepared to fight and win wars. That is our basic fundamental mission. The military is not a social welfare agency, it’s not a jobs program.”