A. Recruiters’ Access to Personal Information About Students
Student lists – The “No Child Left Behind” Act requires all secondary schools that receive federal funds to release students’ personal information, including name, address, and telephone number, to military recruiters upon request. Students and parents have the right to “opt out” (to have their names and information kept off this list), and schools must notify them of this right and provide a way to opt out. In most schools, recruiters have only been asking for the information on juniors and seniors, but NCLB allows them to ask for all secondary students, so students should opt out as soon as they enter high school. [Note: Pennsylvania’s “Act 10” also requires schools to provide recruiters with information on all seniors on the first day of each school year, with a similar opt-out requirement.] [More info]
- How are students and parents notified about this release of information? (Do they do a mailing to parents, a notice to students, announcements in school, or a combination?) [Please send a copy of the notice and response form to LEPOCO.]
- Are students in all grades notified and allowed to opt out?
- When is the notice given and how much time do they allow for a response?
- Are students allowed to opt out or does the school require a parent’s signature? (The law allows either students or parents to opt out.)
- Does the school require a response or is failure to respond taken as consent?
- Once a student (or parent) opts out, is that decision valid until revoked? (Some schools improperly require a new opt-out every year.)
Other ways that recruiters obtain personal information
- Video games and other promotional items – recruiters typically ask for the young person’s name and address.
- “America’s Army” – The Army spent ten million dollars developing this very popular — and free — interactive combat game. When someone plays online, the system logs their personal information and tracks their individual performance. Some military experts predict that this will eventually replace the ASVAB as a way to identify, screen, and place candidates.
- ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) – Often marketed as a vocational aptitude test, the primary purpose of this test is to screen candidates for military service; when given in schools, it has another important purpose: students’ names, addresses, and scores are sent to the recruiters. Most educators say the test is of little value except to students planning to enlist in the military. [More info]
If the school allows the military to give the ASVAB,
- Does the school require or strongly encourage students to take it?
- Does the school clearly inform students that their scores and identifying information will be sent to the military for recruiting purposes?
- Does the school make clear that students do not have to take the test?
B. Recruiters’ Access to Students in School
Many high schools allow recruiters to come to the school and set up information tables in or near the lunch room; some even allow them to approach students directly. The “No Child Left Behind” Act requires schools to grant recruiters the same access granted to institutions of higher education, but most schools are far more open to recruiters.
- Do recruiters have information tables in the lunch room?
- How often are recruiters present in the school?
- Do recruiters have access to students during instructional time? (If yes, Why?)
- Which branches of the military recruit at this school?
- Is recruiters’ presence announced (in the daily announcements or any other method)?
- Do recruiters have a presence or recruiting information in any other location (such as the guidance office or career center) in the school or on school property?
- Are recruiters allowed to meet individually with students in the guidance office or any other location in the school? Are all such meetings supervised by school staff? If not, why not?
Career Fairs – Most high schools allow recruiters to come to school career fairs or similar events. (The “No Child Left Behind” Act requires schools to grant recruiters the same access granted to institutions of higher education.)
- Does this school hold career fairs? (if Yes, When are the career fairs held, and are military recruiters present?)
Recruiting material in the school
Some high schools display recruiting information in the guidance office; others allow recruiting posters on bulletin boards in the halls or other locations.
- Does the guidance office (or career center) have recruiting brochures, posters, or similar material?
- Does the school have material on Americorps and other alternative service programs, including careers working for peace or social justice?
- Does the school also have counter-recruitment or other cautionary material? (Are these alternative materials sufficient in quantity and quality to provide an appropriate response to the recruiting material?)
- Are recruiting posters or materials displayed anywhere in the school?
- Do any school publications contain recruiting ads or information? (Some high schools allow the armed forces to place ads in the school newspaper or other school publications.) If Yes, do these publications also contain other advertisements? [Please send samples of any school-related publications that contain military ads or pro-military content to LEPOCO.]
JROTC – Schools sometimes are convinced that JROTC is a leadership-training program, but its purpose is to increase the number of recruits. Most JROTC programs carefully select students who are likely to succeed; those that are not so selective often have extremely high dropout rates.
- Is there a JROTC unit at this high school? If Yes:
- Which branch of the military is involved, what subjects are taught by ROTC instructors, and how are students selected?
- Are students ever pressured into signing up for the ROTC class?
- Is weapons training part of the JROTC curriculum? (Textbook or hands-on?)
Other Factors That May Promote Militaristic Thinking or Values
Other practices in schools contribute to militaristic thinking or values. In addition to explicitly pro-military actions, an environment tends to favor militarism if it promotes unquestioning obedience or represses free expression and interchange of ideas.
- Do teachers or administrators do anything specific that would inhibit the free exchange of ideas on controversial subjects?
- Do students feel inhibited from expressing opinions that challenge government actions or question pro-military/pro-war positions?
- Does the school treat those who serve(d) in the military in ways that glorify military careers as more honorable, important, heroic, or beneficial to society than other forms of public service?
- Does the school promote obedience and ‘procedure’ over truth or justice?
- Is there a student club that focuses on peace, human rights, and/or social justice? If Not, have students been blocked or discouraged from starting such a club or group?
NOTE: In some cases, the practices listed above may be simply a matter of poor educational practice; in other cases they may actually violate specific laws or deny students their Constitutional rights. For more information, contact the Bill of Rights Defense Committee of the Lehigh Valley. EMAIL
Providing open access to information about different perspectives and encouraging free discussion of controversial issues is a fundamental part of good education. Unfortunately, recruiters and pro-military positions are readily available at schools (and promoted by the schools), but information on alternatives is generally not available and is resisted by the schools.
For more information on recruiting practices, militarism in schools, or other related questions, contact LEPOCO by email or 610 691-8730.
LEPOCO Peace Center
313 W Fourth Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015