Category Archives: Counter Recruitment

November 17, 2016 – Granny Peace Brigade Counter-Recruitment Action

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PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT at NYC PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS

On Parent-Teacher Conference night volunteers went to high schools throughout the 5 boroughs. Distributing flyers in front of a high school building for more than an hour to parents and students who are rushing into the school to meet with teachers may not seem like an upbeat activity.  But it’s remarkably rewarding for volunteers and parents.

Our goal is to provide educational and non-military options to parents and students and counter military promises and programs with relevant information concerning truth in recruiters’ hype.  We believe wholeheartedly that students and their parents should be aware that there are alternatives to military service and an education can be secured without risking lives in needless wars.

Non-Military Options for Life after High School flyer gives families a helping hand to survey many websites and resources for job skills training, scholarships, financial aid, community outreach, volunteer programs.
Questions to Ask – Points to Consider flyer offers information on recruitment practices and promises as well as questions to ask and responses to expect in order to inform families and the student of misleading or unclear information.

It was obvious that parents do not want their children to enlist.  Many expressed an anti-war message – a rejection of their kids going into the Armed Forces.
A father remarked,”Oh yeah, I’m 100% with you.”
A parent said she was going to make copies of the flyers to give out in connection with her work.
A student mentioned an interest in starting a Peace club.
A teacher asked about a speaker on the issues and non-military options in her classroom.

During the evening parents at every school thanked volunteers for the flyers and caring enough to provide this information to them. The feedback from parents was heartfelt and a connection that someone cares about their child’s future.
Many thanks to the 24 volunteers who participated in the counter recruitment action at 12 high schools throughout the 5 boroughs. Families received your largesse and benefited from the information.

Ending war one student at a time.
– Barbara Harris
Granny Peace Brigade
Anti-Military Committee

Ms Gizmo at the East Harlem Youth Fair

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Thursday, July 21st the granny Peace Brigade brought our Fund School Educational Programs message to the East Harlem Youth Fair. Our table attracted 74 gamers, mostly students, to participate in the Ms. Gizmo Penny Poll. They were asked to considered the programs they would like to see in their schools, by distributing the 20 pennies they were given to select their choices. The  Ms. Gizmo cylinders filled up as they considered their interests and needs.

Youth Fair Ms. Gizmo 7-20016

Once again it was a rewarding experience for all as well as an opportunity to speak with the community youth and hear what matters to them and why.

The GPB  message: It’s time to reallocate the $1.5 million funding for Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) in 18 NYC high schools to  programs students want and need. No to JROTC military programs.  We support peaceful educational alternatives.

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Click for a larger image.

Here are the results of the penny poll which focused on student’s educational interests and needs.

Peace,
– Barbara H, Nydia, Edith, Marty, Barbara W, Joan, Nancy
– for the Granny Peace Brigade

Let’s Plug the School-to-Military Pipeline

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These Grannies Are Helping to Plug the School-to-Military Pipeline at Its Source

When teachers are underpaid and schools are underserved, why do we pay veterans to encourage young students to join the military?
By Joyce Chu
May 11, 2016

On a Wednesday afternoon last month, a group of gray-haired women with canes and Styrofoam guns lined the streets outside the New York City Department of Education’s headquarters in Brooklyn. “Get the military out of our schools!” they shouted, capturing pedestrians’ attention. “No more JROTC!” These were the courageous women of the Granny Peace Brigade, and they were there to protest what they see as the militarization of the city’s public schools.  (Read more)

Joyce Chu, An intern at THE NATION, wrote this article about ending the military presence in U.S. public schools.  She researched the topic thoroughly and highlighted the Granny Peace Brigade as well as Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Project on Youth and Non-Military Options (YANO) explaining our opposition to funding JROTC programs (Junior Reserve Officer Training Candidate) in high schools throughout the country.

2016_04_13signsFor about eight years the GPB has been a part of a campaign here in New York City to expose and to eliminate JROTC funding. An annual allocation of about $1.5 million of NYC taxpayer dollars goes to JROTC thus, depriving students of much needed programs in areas such as Arts and Music, Sports, Counseling, After-school Clubs and others.

This is a comprehensive view of a military program that, as Ms. Chu writes in it  “JROTC programs and military recruitment are strongest in poor and rural communities where there is less economic opportunity.”

Special thanks to Ms. Chu for her article and to our own Barbara Harris for her unwavering work on this issue.

– Nydia Leaf with her Anti-Militarization Committee sisters
for the Granny Peace Brigade

$1.5 million for JROTC – A Misuse Of Our Tax Dollars

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The Granny Peace Brigade, with support from the Peace Action, was at City Hall for the third time this year (2016) demanding that  funding for the Junior Reserve Officers training Corps (JROTC) program, in 18 NYC high schools, not be approved. The Mayor’s Education Expense Budget, 2016-2017, includes an estimated $1.5 million for JROTC – a misuse of our tax dollars for a military program. JROTC classes take the place of regular classes for those students who participate.

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We say: “The military should have no role in our schools!” These funds could be used for a wide range of other programs such as: computer skills, vocational training, music, art, sports, tutoring, and after-school clubs. We urge the City Council to vote to re-allocate this education budget funding item to better serve our kids.

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This campaign to de-fund J-ROTC began last year, with members of the GPB meeting with members of the Education Committee of the City Council, testimony at the Budget hearings, letters to all members of the Education Committee outlining in detail the reasons why this military program should be de-funded, and flyering at City Hall in order to inform the public of this program.

We have found many in the Council who agree. We have talked to many parents who are surprised that such a class is part of the regular school program in the selected schools. And many voters and taxpayers who agree with us that such a class should NOT be part of any school program.

Marty Rajandran with Barbara Harris and Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

“Get JROTC out of Schools” – Demo at 65 Court St

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"Get JROTC out of the schools"" at 65 Court St Brooklyn
Photo: Danya Abt

Corinne, Joan, Nydia, Betty, Eva-Lee, Barbara H, Carol and Ryoko outside the NYC Board of Education offices at 65 Court Street in Brooklyn. Our message — tell City Council to get the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps out of NYC high schools. Read more about JROTC: A Recruitment Tool In 18 New York City High Schools.

2016_04_13signsA young man saw me carrying signs to the demonstration and said, “You know? I was in JROTC when I was in high school.” I asked him why he joined and he told me he needed an extra curricular activity for his transcript. Then he added, “But I didn’t go into the military. I didn’t want to go to war to steal somebody else’s oil.” I’m glad he made that decision. Not all students do.

Dear New Yorkers, Please call your City Council person and ask her or him to de-fund the JROTC programs in NYC schools. Find the name and number of your City Council Representative here.

— Eva-Lee  Baird
for the GPB

Parent Teacher Conference Night at NYC High Schools, March 10, 2016 – Countering Military Recruitment

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In our ongoing effort to protect students from the influence of military recruiters in high schools, volunteers were at 10 schools to greet parents as they arrived and provide them with 2 flyers addressing Non-Military Options for Students after HS and Questions to Ask Recruiters who may be talking to their child.  This direct action helps families learn more about college programs, financial aid, job training, trade schools, and alternatives suitable to their child’s needs and dreams.  And most important, to guide their child away from a military choice.

To spend a minute or two with individual parents who have a question or just stop to thank us for the information and  considering their child’s future is a simple and effective personal outreach. Parents we meet respond with gratitude.

P-T night teacher discusses flyers

At Murry Bergtraum HS, several teachers stopped and took flyers.  One teacher wanted to discuss how important this information was for his students and their families. He asked if we would come to his class to speak about the issues.

At West Side Campus HS, volunteers report that parents couldn’t thank them enough.

P-T nite Jill and parent

We are motivated by the presence of militarism in children’s lives – in games, movies, and schools. Each child deserves a good education filled with academics, emotional support, a variety of educational and social programs, art/music, tutoring, sports, and challenges to reach new goals.  They deserve career guidance as well.  Unfortunately, NYC high schools have a dearth of counselors and some have a ratio of 1 counselor for 300-400 students.  Little attention can be given to individual student’s career guidance needs, and military recruiters fill that void.  Parent -Teacher Conference night outreach and engagement with parents seeks to educate

families about the many opportunities their child can pursue to fulfill  her/his goals.  Providing 2  flyers with information and resources to counter the military message is our responsibility.

We’ll be back at the high schools this Fall – consider joining us then.
Students not Soldiers
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

No Military Rifles in NYC schools!

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The Granny Peace Brigade, joined by Kevin Augustine of Clarion Call, protested at 250 Broadway, the offices of the NYC City Council, on the planned city budget allocation of around $1.5 million for the US government’s military program of JROTC classes in 18 New York City High Schools. Funds are also provided under the federal military budget. (Click on thumbnails for larger images.)

Kevin’s silent presence in front of the building set a poignant note. He was dressed as a hobo grunt, a combination of a sad tattered clown and part weary homeless veteran, with several dummy/bodies lying at his feet. Clarion Call, with whom he volunteers,  is a street-based pantomime promoting peace. The silent veteran reflects the thought that “actions speak louder than words.”

Looking at his sad face, one sees a familiar classic clown: Emmett Kelly. Kevin himself is the son of a veteran, who sadly took his own life when Kevin was only 12, one of the thousands of veterans committing suicide each year.

We were together asking questions. Should we as tax-payers permit the military to teach JROTC classes and sell the Army story? Where’s the balance of information on the realities around life in the military?  How much better could these funds be used? Teaching of peaceful ways of dealing with conflict/conflict resolution? Arts? Music? Books? Computers? or even just making our schools safer…..and cleaner. Do we really want our schools to be making “boy and girl soldiers?” If NO, do call your city councilor.

Granny Peace Brigade: Eva-Lee, Joan, Edith, Barbara W., Nancy, Nydia, Tibby, Phyllis, Marty, with Kevin Augustine of Clarion Call

– Story and photos by Marty Rajandran

Students’ Privacy Extends to Military-Recruitment Tools

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To the Editor of Education Week:

In New York state, a network of parents and other activists led by the New York City-based nonprofit Class Size Matters were instrumental in quashing a plan by the now-closed education technology vendor inBloom to warehouse student information. Leonie Haimson, the founder and executive director of Class Size Matters, said at the time that inBloom was “only the tip of the iceberg.” How right she was.

Almost two years later, another third party in the Empire State continues to run roughshod over the guarantees of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. I am talking, of course, about the United States military. During the 2012-13 school year, more than 13,000 New York state students sat for the three-hour-long Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB.

In public, the test is marketed to schools as a “vocational guidance” tool, one way the military can give back to the community. In military training manuals and trade journals, however, it is discussed as a recruitment tool. Worse still, students and parents are not always told that the test was designed by and for the military, and that the data gathered are being collected and used by the military.

It’s time for the same educators and parents who ran inBloom out of town to tell the New York State Board of Regents to take action on this issue. By issuing an advisory memo to schools statewide, the regents can encourage guidance counselors to either substitute the ASVAB for some other kind of aptitude test or at least better protect student privacy. Students taking the ASVAB should know that they need to indicate on their tests that they don’t want the results released to military recruiters.
Student privacy matters, whether it’s inBloom or ASVAB. The only bonus is that students that take practice exams for the ASVAB, such as this ASVAB word knowledge practice test, can remain anonymous and the providers of these practice tests won’t share your results to military recruiters.

– Barbara Harris, Director, New York Coalition to Protect Student Privacy
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Blue Lies Matter just as Black Lives Matter

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The Granny Peace Brigade joined maybe 6000 on 28 April 2015 at the Union Square Solidarity Rally and March for Freddie Gray, Jr. (25 years old) who died due to severe injuries while in Baltimore police custody. What did the police say: he did it to himself! A coroner said differently: homicide. And on May 1, 6 police officers involved with the arrest on 12 April were charged.  Tamir Rice, 12 years old, shot by Cleveland police on 22 November 2014; for playing with a toy gun in a park within seconds of their reaching the park, is also being blamed for his own death! According to a Washington Post report (15/03/02),  “in response to the federal lawsuit by Tamir’s family, city officials accuse Tamir of “failure ….. to excercise due care to avoid injury.” However, as in Freddie’s case, a coroner has ruled homicide…..over 5 months ago. There is a difference though. As yet no charges have been filed in Tamir’s killing! What is the difference? Maybe its hundreds of thousands around the country going out to the streets saying: No MORE, Black Lives Matter.

Sorry, I have diverted a bit….but will get back to Tamir. The rally at Union Square was one of the largest I have seen there….. groups of mostly young people but all ages were there, scattered throughout the park….on 14th Street, by the Gandhi memorial, with the largest group by the speakers at the North end. It was a peaceful event, however police were well prepared with barriers around the park, their white vans lined up along 14th Street. Eva-Lee, Edith and I stood with the banner: Black Lives Matter at the fringe of the rally….it was packed and the noise level was too high to even hear speakers. Ann and Jenny were also there. We were interviewed by a team from MSNBC part of the Ed Show. We were one of many groups (eg. Nancy was there with the Quakers)  in support of Freddie Gray and all the others killed by police under very questionable circumstances. My favorite sign was: Blue Lies Matter.

As the crowd started to move, so did we onto 17th Street, until the crowd halted, the road blocked by police. Some said the police were beating protestors with their batons. The crowd then turned back to the Square. When we looked behind us, a group of protestors were running, followed by a police barrage in charging mode. And then the police started arresting anyone staying on the streets. So the crowds pushed others, including us,  to the pavement. This went on for some time. It was getting late, police were now setting up nets, and it was unclear what was happening next. And so the remaining two grannies (Eva-Lee and I) decided to leave. At this point,  Eva-Lee mentioned this was her birthday!  She said ” this was the best way, although angered at the reasons.” She said  the murder that really angered her was Tamir Rice, just a 12 year old boy playing in the park.

As I walked to get my subway, I noticed a small crowd gathered around a group of photos hanging from the Park fence. This was a display of children killed by police. And there was a photo of Tamir, along with others:  Andy Pena Herrera*, Aiyana Stanley-Jones**, Deaunta Farrow***…..among so many others. SHED LIGHT ON THE STOLEN CHILDREN was the sign. It was now night; dark; quiet; no crowds; just a few noticing this memorial.
As mothers, as Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers.  just as people, we must continue to join with others in saying Black Lives Matter and  for those gone, justice. Justice for Tamir Rice, NOW.

See Larry Wilmore’s piece about Justice for Tamir Rice on the Nightly Show.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade
*Andy Pena Herrera aged 4 was killed with his mother, Maria who was 8 months pregnant and her 16 year old sister, Dilcia in Brooklyn by a drunk, off-duty policeman. He was charged and was imprisoned. (2001).
**Aiyana Stanley-Jones aged 7 was shot by police during a raid in her Detroit home. The officer  responsible was charged, but after two mistrials, the prosecutor cleared him of all charges. (2010)
***DeAunta Farrow, aged 12, was shot by police while he was walking with a toy gun near his Memphis home. No charges were ever filed. (2007)

Dear NY City Council: Don’t spend $1.5 million on Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

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Friends,
On Wednesday, March 25th,  I gave testimony urging NY City Council members to vote to eliminate the approximately $1.5 million tax levy allocation for the the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC)  program in 18 New York City public high schools.

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Representing the Granny Peace Brigade and 22 supporting organizations, my testimony asked the council to re-direct the funds to better serve current underfunded educational programs, as well as the reduced or eliminated after school programs.  The Committee on Education can find far better uses for $1.5 million taxpayerdollars than supporting a military program that s developed by the Pentagon.  With little  transparency or lack of oversight of curriculum or goals achieved, the military delivers the wrong message to our high school students.

For many reasons, JROTC should not be subsidized by NYC taxpayers. My testimony provided details on the disturbing aspects of the program.  Briefly here are the major issues.  Download the full testimony.

1/Cost of the program ($1.5 M), military instructors educational requirements, lack of NYC teacher credentials and requisite qualification, yet receiving salaries equal to licensed teachers. Each school hires 2 instructors for each class.

2/The Program  focuses on military values and hierarchy, the ideas of soldiering, following commands, fitness and drills. Curriculum is developed by the military and presents a partisan pro-military view of historical, political,and moral issues.

3/Teaching approach promulgates a highly authoritarian approach, discourages criticism, and glorifies the unbroken chin of command.  This curriculum does not belong in public schools.

4/Weapons – JROTC sends the wrong message about weapons.  Students cannot bring weapons of any sort into school, but they can read and learn about handling them in JROTC textbooks. JROTC students carry rifles into HS  assembles, during parades and drill team events.

5/Anti-Violence.  In the 2015 City Council Allocation Funding document, $550,000 has been allocated to programs to teach anti-violence, anti-weaponry, and conflict resolution strategies.  How confused can a student be?  JROTC kids carry rifles, guns are fun and war is a game.  So, what’s going on in the public high schools?

In conclusion, I noted the $1.5 million allocation should be transferred to an area of educational service being cut  or reduced and better better serve the needs of our students and teachers.  From art, music, sports, environmental initiatives — to hiring more, and much needed high school career guidance counselors. This subsidy for a military training program should have no place in the  Mayor’s FY 2015 Education Budget, and we ask the council to eliminate and re-direct these funds for far more important educational priorities.

We look forward to the Council’s leadership on this significant educational issue.

Respectfully,
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade and all listed supporters
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After I concluded, Council Member Dromm (Chair of the Committee on Education) thanked me for continuing to work on this issue and noted a follow up meeting to discuss new strategies.

Before I left, several people in the council chamber, who had previously given testimony on different budget issues,  came over to thank me for the testimony.  They didn’t know about JROTC or the details of the program and were strongly on our side.  As we have found, as people learn more about the JROTC, they agree to eliminate taxpayer funding for the program.