In early December the Granny Peace Brigade sent the following letter via snail mail to Chancellor Carmen Fariña and also to members of New York City Council.
Dear Chancellor Fariña,
One and one half million dollars of New York City taxpayer money is spent to fund Junior Reserve Officers Training programs in eighteen New York City high schools.
In addition to being opposed to the militarization of our children, we in the Granny Peace Brigade would like to point out that the JROTC programs glorify the use of weapons within the schools and at public events.
This is not in compliance with New York City policy prohibiting real or imitation weapons in schools.
(Citywide Behavioral Expectations to Support Student Learning, p.19)
We call upon you to do the right thing and defund all military programs in New York City high schools.
We can find better things for our children to hold.
We received this response via email.
Dear Ms. Harris:
Thank you for writing to the Chancellor on behalf of the Granny Peace Brigade. We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us, and apologize for the delayed response.
Please be advised that New York City JROTC programs do not involve handling weaponry and use non-operational, dummy rifle replicas solely for military drills, which are conducted in a supervised setting.
Moreover, our JROTC programs are rooted in principles of youth leadership and community service. The JROTC class curriculum commonly includes leadership, team-building, citizenship, post-secondary planning, health, and physical fitness drills. Approximately one half of JROTC instructor salaries are reimbursed by the military JROTC programs. Students apply to the JROTC programs either directly through the high school admissions process, or self-select to be involved generally in 9th grade. Furthermore, early morning and after-school activities including drills (physical fitness, color guard, drum corps) and tutoring are frequently offered. JROTC programs provide students with a supportive niche of belonging and personalized attention within the larger school community, as well as a greater sense of involvement in school life. Participation in JROTC programs also has a positive impact on student achievement (e.g., graduation rates).
I hope this information has been helpful. Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of our students, and I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season.
Chancellor’s Strategic Response Group
Here is our reply.
Dear Ms. Hodgson,
First off, the GPB really appreciates your December 23 email reply to our concerns about JROTC in New York City schools. So often responses to our concerns are perfunctory. It is clear that you devoted time and thought to your response.
We wish to address some fundamental concerns. First, is there a place for weapons in New York City Schools, even imitation weapons? We maintain that dummy weapons are not in compliance with NYC policy prohibiting real or imitation weapons in schools.
Our second concern has to do with children receiving military style training in order to receive supportive services. We believe that JROTC should not be a prerequisite to providing “students with a supportive niche of belonging and personalized attention within the larger school community, as well as a greater sense of involvement in school life.” In fact, it should be incumbent upon the school system to provide all students with supportive services, community service opportunities and exciting programs.
We hope you can make time to watch a 3 -minute video concerning JROTC made by Veterans for Peace, Chicago. Veterans For Peace Chicago Education Not Militarization Campaign
We would welcome an opportunity to meet with the Chancellor to discuss these issues.
Dear Readers, We would be grateful for your comments on this exchange.
– Barbara Harris, Joan Pleune, Edith Cresmer, Nydia Leaf, Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade