The most effective way to counter militarism in the schools is to appeal to moderate and progressive school board members and state legislators regarding these issues:
- The school’s adherence to the specifics of the “Opt-Out” legislation codified in ESSA Sec. 8025;
- The access to students enjoyed by military recruiters vis-à-vis college recruiters;
- The access enjoyed by counter-recruiters to students, including the placement of factually correct literature wherever recruiting propaganda is found;
- The circumvention of FERPA by the military in its administration of the ASVAB in the nation’s high schools and the resulting violation of student privacy; The selection of ASVAB Release Option 8;
- The content of the textbooks, the professionalism of the instructors, the existence of marksmanship programs, and the health hazards posed by lead particulate matter in classrooms and gyms – all associated with the JROTC program.
There’s plenty in this book to begin researching these avenues of resistance.
What High School Students Can Do
to De-militarize Their Schools
(Adapted - and amended - from Project YANO’s list)
1. Talk to your parents about your concerns. Be courteous and respectful of school and municipal authorities. You’ll lose all credibility if you lose your cool.
2. Know your First Amendment rights. See the New York Civil Liberty Union’s page on Youth and Student Rights.
3. Get counter-recruitment information into your schools. Make sure everything you propose is factually correct. Ask that literature racks and posters with alternative information be placed in school wherever military recruitment information is on display. Check out Project YANO’s page on Literature and Resources.
4. Present Counter-Recruitment Information during career fairs: Ask career counselors to invite a group to counter the military’s message or see if you can set up your own information table with reliable information.
5. Keep your contact information from recruiters and help others to do the same. Let your school and your parents know that you do not want your name, address and number released to recruiters and that you want to opt out at the beginning of the school year before the lists are released. Your school should have a military recruiter opt-out form. If not, you can download one from www.projectyano.org. Educate other students and parents about their right to opt out.
6. If the ASVAB is to be given at your school, insist that the test is voluntary and that student information is not released to recruiters. The ASVAB is the military’s aptitude test and is given in half of the high schools in the country so that recruiters can obtain test data and personal information on students. In order to prevent the information from automatically being given to recruiters, your school must tell the military in advance that “ASVAB Release Option 8” must be used for ALL the students who are tested. (The school decides whether student information will be shared with recruiters – not kids or parents! Most schools release information to recruiters.)
7. Counter visits from recruiters: This is when activism takes guts. It’s helpful to have your parents’ support:
- Stand next to recruiters and hand out truthful literature.
- Express symbolic opposition by having a student stand silently next to the recruiters dressed as the grim reaper.
- Demand recruiters are never allowed to be with students while unsupervised.
- Surround military recruiters when they sit for lunch in the cafeteria. Are military recruiters allowed to with children in Complain to your principal and school board.
- Call other schools and the school board to determine recruitment policies.
- Organize a campaign for the school district to adopt a policy to regulate all
8. Investigate JROTC:
- Find out if marksmanship training is given and, if so, whether shooting ranges are present in schools.
- If shooting ranges are present, determine if the school is adhering to the stringent but frequently ignored,“Guide to Lead Management for Air Gun Shooting” published by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
- Find out if students are ever placed in JROTC classes without requesting it.
- Request the JROTC enrollment statistics for each school. If any units have fallen below a total of 100 students two years in a row, agitate to remove them as required by federal law.
- Research the teaching credentials of JROTC instructors. Do they at least hold college degrees and are they certified?
- Compare the Army JROTC history textbooks, Marines JROTC history textbooks, and Navy JROTC history textbooks to the school's history textbooks. How many incorrect facts can you find in the JROTC textbooks? How many crucially important details are left out of the military textbooks? Make a list and present it to the principal and your school board. Demand the books be removed from school property.
Counter-recruitment activists have compelling facts and moral justification on their side, and they should use them judiciously. Public testimony, especially question and answer segments in front of school boards and legislatures, can quickly become emotionally charged. Here are some examples of being tactful, but remaining on point:
- We're not trying to starve the military of recruits. We're seeking a balanced message concerning military enlistment.
- We're not against the military.
- We're not trying to drive recruiters from the schools - we acknowledge and respect the law
- We don't think most recruiters lie all the time. Instead, it's well documented that recruiters, working to fill quotas, can be overzealous.
- We're not outraged by a military testing program in the schools, predicated on lies, that recruits cannon fodder for an imperial machine. Instead, we understand that counselors appreciate the ASVAB Career Exploration program; however, we think parents should be allowed to give consent before their child's information is sent to the Pentagon.
- We don't say the JROTC Marksmanship Program creates killers. Instead, we're concerned children may receive a mixed message in a school with a "no guns" policy.
NNOMY, the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, is a national networking body that brings together national, regional and local organizations to oppose the growing intrusion of the military in young people's lives. This essential organization promotes communication and sharing of organizing skills and resources across the country. NNOMY’s website acts as a hub of resistance to American military recruitment and provides visitors with information on military programs operating in the schools and proven strategies to counter them.
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Center on Conscience & War
Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft
Draft Resistance News
National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy
Stop Recruiting Kids
War Resisters League
World Beyond War
Youth Activist-Youth Allies (YAYA) Network
* Great source for literature
Courage to Resist
GI Rights Hotline 877-447-4487
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Military Families Speak Out
Veterans for Peace
When youth join the military they almost always enlist in the Delayed Entry/Enlistment Program (DEP). The agreement is not binding. There is a misconception among many parents when they discover their child has enlisted in the armed forces. Frequently, youth are in the DEP for months before they are told to report to basic training. When young men and women change their minds about joining the military while they're in the DEP, (which happens quite frequently), GI Rights counselors and attorneys trained in military law advise parents to do everything possible to talk their child out of reporting to basic training. If a recruit fails to show up, the Enlistment Agreement is void. The nightmare goes away.
Often, when someone in the DEP informs the recruiter that he or she no longer wants to join the military, the recruiter will say it is too late and that there is nothing that can be done. The recruiter may tell the person he or she must report on the date scheduled. Recruiters often say things like, “If you don’t show up you will be AWOL; you will go to jail and get a Dishonorable Discharge. It will ruin your life.” Recruiters have been known to lie.
To repeat: Enrolled in the DEP? Having second thoughts? Don’t go. Nothing will happen.