Tag Archives: counter recruiting

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.

Parent Teacher Conference Night Action – March 26, 2015

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Concerned about military recruiters in and around NYC high schools and the lack of information to counter this military outreach, the Granny Peace Brigade and supporting volunteers have been addressing this issue since 2007.

March 26, 2015, Parent Teacher Conference night, volunteers were at 10 high schools providing non-military informational flyers to parents and students.  Times have changed and for many families the military is no longer an option for their child. They are not aware of the many non-military options available or where to seek out assistance.  As there is a shortage of high school career guidance counselors, this information is most valuable to parents and appreciated by students as well.

Students with flyers
(Click on photo for larger image.)

Our flyers provide non-military options including educational programs, community and college information and websites, job and skill training programs, financial aid/scholarships, or community service programs.  A second flyer clarifies military service procedures and provides answers needed to better understand the truth of military recruitment and promises made.

At a Staten Island HS, guidance counselors took flyers.  One scanned the material, smiled, and said,” Oh, its anti-military, it made my day.”  At another, the volunteer approached a student in a JROTC uniform.  He told her he got the flyers last year. “Your group made some good points.”  At another school, teachers who arrived early took flyers and noted their importance in classroom discussion. At a Manhattan HS, the principal approached the volunteer to read the material and understand the action.  She was interested and after the conversation took 10 sets of flyers to give to the guidance counselors.

At a Brooklyn HS with a large JROTC program, a father stopped to say that no way his children were joining the military. Another volunteer reported that a woman came up to him and said we were doing a good job.  That made his day.   It’s not always positive as a volunteer at a Manhattan HS experienced.  Two parents disagreed briefly and emphatically. One gave back the flyers saying she was a navy mom. A father, also returning the flyers said, “Who will defend us?” None of the students we spoke with were planning to join the military.  The parents did not consider other options, but the students did.

Feedback from parents is warm and sincere. They appreciate that someone takes the time to stand outside the school and cares enough about their child’s future to provide information, support, and assistance to reach her/his goals.  As rewarding as this is for the parents, it’s truly a rewarding experience for volunteers.  We walk away with the feeling of new possibilities, student opportunity, and justice served.

Join us in the fall when we will again be at high schools for another Parent Teacher Conference night action. To learn more or download the flyers, visit www.grannypeacebrigade.org, go to the Counter-Recruitment page, and scan though the information, documents to download, and links to other organizations.

Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Students not Soldiers
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Parent Teacher Conference Night – November 5, 2014

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As volunteers handed out flyers to parents and students entering high schools for a meeting with teachers, the White House was deciding to send 1500 more troops to Iraq.

2014_11Stopping War Where It Begins

The information being shared with parents  includes Non-Military Options for Life After High School (link) as well as Questions to Ask and Points to Consider Before You Enlist (link).
How very important this action continues to be as wars are endless and new military recruits are needed.  For the military – where best to look than in the high schools.
To respond, we’re at high schools to counter military promotions and offer pro-peace alternatives.

At a couple of schools, the Question to Ask Before You Enlist flyer was received with greater interest than in the past.  A volunteer noted that it seemed avoiding the military was as important to parents as education after high school for their child.   I met with a mother who was thankful for that flyer and noted that the questions posed and answers provided were very pertinent. “Few kids know what enlistment really means. I want to show this to a few boys I know.”

At New Dorp High School on Staten Island, 3 students from a sociology class joined the volunteers.   It was their first time doing a street action, and they were effective in making a difference by adding their voice to the conversation. Youth helping to build the movement as apprentice activists.

Murry Bertraum HS Robotics Team(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Members of the Robotics team at Murry Bergtraum Campus were psyched over the Options flyer (photo).  Their plans are focused on college.  While speaking with the guidance counselor at this high school, she mentioned  that career counseling is the last item on her agenda.  A shortage of guidance counselors leaves many students in the dark concerning future goals and non-military options. She took our handouts as well.

All those who volunteered, although they had little time for conversation with parents, made a difference.  It is appreciated when someone cares about their child’s  future, is willing to stand in front of a high school, and generously reaches out with educational and informational advice that they rarely receive.

Feel free to download our flyers and give them to friends, students, and teenagers you meet along the way.  You never know – you may well provide  the information they are seeking and change their future direction.

Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Parent Teacher Conference Night, March 27, 2014 – Volunteer Action Report

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Military recruiters are ever ready to engage high school students.  They visit schools, participate in high school career fairs, hang out in playgrounds and parks getting to know the neighborhood and the students.   Dressed in camouflage fatigues or full military uniform, recruiters form a relationship, discuss enlistment and glorify their mission.  It’s enticing to youth and full of promises for the future.

To counter the military story, on March 27th, volunteers were at 10 high schools distributing non-military informational handouts to parents who were attending parent teacher conferences. With only a brief minute or two to speak with a parent and offer an alternative message, the conversation is positive and pro-education.  (Click on photos for larger images.)

Photo: Eva-Lee Baird
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird

Every student deserves the opportunity to reach his/her goals without military interference. Our Questions to Ask flyer clarifies some of the misunderstanding parents and students may have about military service. The non-military Options for Life after High School flyer provides information to help families get started on finding job skill training courses, college programs, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities, or to consider a community service option. Parents gladly take the handouts and sincerely appreciate this information.

Few parents are pro-military, and they do not want their child to be recruited. But at one school, two mothers felt the military would be good for their sons.  That’s why the information we provide is so important.  It answers questions parents may have about military service and offers alternatives for students to reach their goals.

One team put up a sign on the wall near the entrance of the school – Options After High School.  At 2 schools JROTC students, in full uniform, hosted the event and greeted parents.  A volunteer, a veteran himself, noted that he had a good conversation with a JROTC leader, who took the handouts as well.  Volunteers unanimously declared this educational outreach action a success.
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We hope to see you in the fall when school reopens, students return, and recruiters are not far behind.  We’ll be out there just telling it like it is. And everyone can continue to tell it like it is. For downloadable copies of the flyers, tips on leafleting, and websites to visit, go to: www.grannypeacebrigade.org, Counter Recruitment Recruitment page.

Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Students not Soldiers

-Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Junior Reserve Officer Training in 18 NYC High Schools

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New York City’s budget will come up for a vote this spring, and buried in its pages will be $2 million to fund the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) military programs at 18 NYC high schools, listed below.

JROTC is a program developed by the Department of Defense under the banner of citizenship and leadership for youth. Included as a regular part of the school day, the JROTC program masquerades as an educational curriculum.

But these classes are often led by instructors who are not certified by the NYC Department of Education. Instead the instructors are retired military personal, who are trained and prepared for classroom teaching using military procedures and management skills. JROTC is about winning the hearts and minds of students and school administrators. Recruiting students for military service is the goal.

Is this what we want for our kids? The GPB doesn’t think so, and we suspect a lot of parents agree with us. At the very least, we want to be sure that parents know that the schools are helping the military recruit their children. Will you help us get the word out?

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What you can do:
Please join us
Parent Teacher Conference Night at NYC High Schools
Thursday, March 27, 2014, 5:00PM
– We’ll have info to help families find job skill training courses, college programs, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities. Email us for details – grannypeace@gmail.com

– Barbara Harris and Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Bud Korotzer

Schools with JROTC programs in 2013-2014
Bronx:

  1. Bronx High School for Law And Community Service (X439), Theodore Roosevelt Campus, 500 East Fordham Road
  2. De Witt Clinton HS (X440),  100 West Mosholu Parkway South
  3. Harry S. Truman HS – Educational Campus (X455), 750 Baychester Ave
  4. Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies (X297), Morris Educational Campus, 1100 Boston Road

Brooklyn:

  1. Franklin K. Lane HS (K420), 999 Jamaica Avenue
  2. Performing Arts and Technology HS (K507), 400 Pennsylvania Ave
  3. Fort Hamilton HS (K490),  8301 Shore Road

Manhattan:

  1. HS Of Graphic Communication Arts (M625), 439 West 49th St
  2. HS For Health Careers And Sciences (M468), 459 Audubon Ave

Queens:

  1. Aviation Career and Technical HS (Q610), 45-30 36th St.
  2. John Bowne HS (Q425), 63-25 Main St.
  3. Francis Lewis HS (Q430), 58-20 Utopia Parkway
  4. Long Island City HS (Q450), 14-30 Broadway

Staten Island:

  1. The Michael J. Petrides School (R080), 715 Ocean Ave.
  2. Port Richmond HS (R445), 35 St. Josephs Ave
  3. Curtis HS (R450), 105 Hamilton Ave
  4. Tottenville HS (R455), 100 Luten Ave
  5. Susan E. Wagner HS (R460), 1200 Manor Road

Parent Teacher Conference Night Action – October 24, 2013

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Being out on the streets, leafleting and providing information to passersby is never so pertinent and effective than on Parent Teacher Conference night. Once again, volunteers were outside NYC high schools ready to distribute student-focused informational flyers to parents.  The focus of this action is to ensure that parents and students are aware of the questions to ask military recruiters and to review non-military options for students to reach their goals after graduation.

2013_10_24_pt_night_2(Click on photos for larger images.)

Parents and students stopped for a moment to talk and consider the handouts. One flyer provides non-military options and opportunities for students after graduation including information about skill development programs, college websites, available financial and scholarship aid and educational outreach organizations.  The second flyer provides answers to the promotional promises military recruiters make to youth in order to entice them to consider enlisting -what facts to know; what questions to ask.  Parents engaged in brief conversations and expressed their appreciation for the information as well as our concern for their children’s welfare and future opportunities. “This is important and I’ll talk with my son about it. We need to start talking.”

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The Options for Life after High School handout went like hotcakes – parents and students were requesting a copy, as well as a couple of teens who were considering the military and a JROTC cadet in uniform.  Bottom line, it is clear that when a teen has an opportunity for job training, city college programs, resource guides, and financial aid for further education, the military choice is put into perspective.

Volunteers noted that more students wanted to talk to them, ask questions and get information.  Some parents recognized volunteers from last fall.  “Being at the schools, we are making an impression and more able to provide support and options to families. “

“Thank you for doing this.  I didn’t know about the options.” Once a parent spoke with tears.  The concern of families to be able to provide educational opportunities for their child was touching and honest.  No to the military was loud and clear. The rare parent was open to a military alternative.

I was on a team with a new volunteer. Talking it over after all our flyers had been distributed, she was excited by the experience, the connection with parents, and the feeling of fulfillment.  “When is the next action?  Please call me again”.

Hoping you will join us and be part of this positive and rewarding experience.  It’s a small effort to support families and students with a large personal reward.

Thanks to all the volunteers who made this action so successful.

Peace,

– Barbara Harris – Counter Recruitment Committee
for the Granny Peace Brigade


*** Students Not Soldiers: Military recruiters engage students early – all the better for future enlistment potential.  Counter recruitment activities are a foot in the door to present youth with crucial information that recruiters omit and to counter-balance the promises that recruiters make.  It is imperative that we provide more non-military options and programs to assist teens after they graduate.  It is also germane that counter recruiters address truth in recruitment and the militarization of youth inside and outside of schools.

Parent Teacher Conference Night at NYC High Schools – Countering Military Recruitment

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Thursday evening, March 14th was very cold and windy.  With intent and warm clothing, volunteers  were at High Schools in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx & Staten Island to meet parents and students on their way to parent teacher conferences.

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Once again, with flyers in hand and a quick opening statement, they reached out to families to provide information about Non-Military Options for students after HS and Questions to Ask recruiters who may be talking to their child. Printed on bright pink and yellow papers, parents took the flyers with a thank you.

Feedback from volunteers noted positive responses from parents as well as teachers to the material.  At one school parents seemed relieved the get the cautionary information about military enlistment. Teachers were more than willing to take the information and use the format for lesson plans. One team had the opportunity to speak with a group of students who were considering military enlistment.  With a stroke of good luck, this was a team of 2 Veterans for Peace who could speak from experience and provide truth about war and military service.

Another team was invited inside the HS building to meet parents and keep warm.  At several schools, volunteers spoke with JROTC members and discovered that none were considering ROTC in college.

My experience, alone at a large HS in lower Manhattan, proved to be different from my past visits to this school. Parents wondered who I was standing in front of the school with a handful of flyers.  Since the flow of parents toward the school entrance was light and well paced, I had a little more time with each parent before he/she entered the building.  After my quick message about non-military options for students – from skill training to college opportunities, financial aid, scholarships, and what to know if the military starts calling your home, they were off to their teacher meeting.

I noticed that most parents still had the flyers in their hands when leaving the school building. They stopped to thank me again for the information, some asked a question, many added ‘have a good evening’ with a smile. Very warm, very generous.

One father, among many, looked at me with such concern for his child and perhaps a call for help; I was moved and distressed by my inability to truly make a difference for him and his family.  I remain troubled for all parents who are struggling to get ahead and see the future in their child’s educational success.  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.

We’ll be back at the schools this Fall – join us then.

Peace,
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Parent Teacher Conference Night at NYC High Schools – March 29, 2012

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The Dept. of Defense has begun its $5 million summer advertising campaign to entice youth to enlist. Social media, YouTube, Facebook, and video games will carry promotions for enlistment. To counter the military recruitment message, volunteers were at 12 high schools in 4 boroughs armed with flyers and a commitment to promote an alternative message.

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The outreach action provided parents with information and questions to ask in order to better understand military recruiters’ promises and tactics. The response was positive, pro-education, and anti-military. There was no doubt that families need support, information, and resources to help their children succeed and reach their goals.

A volunteer notes that people were very receptive to one of our key pitches: ‘With the spring and warmer weather, the recruiters are going to be coming out again trying to get our kids. We want to make sure they are ready to challenge the lies they’ve been telling to get new bodies. The recruiters paint rosy pictures but we see how the new soldiers are when they come back.”

The Options for Life After High School flyer is a resource page which provides websites and contacts for CUNY/SUNY colleges, financial aid, scholarships, job skill programs and more. This flyer was popular and every parent wanted one.   As parents left the school after the meeting, I noticed they were still carrying the brightly colored sheets as they waved goodbye.

Volunteers were thanked; parents sincerely valued the outreach. Rob, a volunteer, writes, “I think people really appreciated hearing views that were consonant with their own unspoken ones. Really important we were out there just telling it like it is.”

And everyone can continue to tell it like it is. For downloadable copies of the flyers, tips on leafleting, and websites to visit, go to the Counter Recruiting page of the GPB website

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Harry Bubbins

The Granny Peace Brigade Goes to College

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It’s often asked by peace activist organizations – “Where are the young people? Why aren’t they speaking out for peace and justice?”

Responding to an invitation from Adelphi University Professor Deborah Little, five members of the Granny Peace Brigade traveled to the University and met with students from the Women, Peace and Justice Project seminar. We spoke about issues the GPB is working on and described direct actions to effect change. We hoped presenting the Grannies’ message and activism would serve as a model for college students. We were not disappointed!

Over 100 students from the Sociology and Political Science Departments attended the seminar. Each Granny spoke about an event or issue of current importance and relevance to the students. Molly Klopot spoke of how women activists from several peace groups united in an action which resulted in founding the GPB. Phyllis Cunningham introduced the legislative committees’ action issues, Eva-Lee Baird explained the Phone-A-Thon project and materials. After viewing a video of a phone-a-thon action at Columbus Circle, a student volunteered to call her representative as everyone listened and applauded. Activism 101!

Barbara Harris discussed the prevalence of military recruiters in the schools as well as in targeted neighborhoods, what the GPB is doing to counter the recruiters’ aggressive tactics and misleading promises, what needs to be done, and how college students can get involved in this effort. Nydia Leaf explained the call for abolition of all US military bases on foreign soil, the current situation surrounding the presence of such bases including Guantanamo, and the geo-strategy and economic interests which guide US policy.

Most gratifying to us from the hour spent with the students was their obvious interest in the issues, their receptiveness to our information and respect for our experience, the understanding that each has a responsibility to act, and their desire to learn how to become more active in the peace movement.

One hour for the seminar was far too short, but at the Q and A several students asked questions ranging from personal concerns about patriotism and a family tradition of military service, to media control of information and political actions, to the pervasiveness of violent video games. The final question was straightforward: A student wanted to call Senator Schumer with a message loud and clear – “End the occupation, Bring the troops home now – and I will forgive you for the Mukasey vote.”

Several students remained to share experiences with us such as the young man with years in JROTC and preparation for military service, who finally realized he wanted a different choice for himself –a college education and a path to community service. A young woman wanted to know how her grandmother could get in touch with us.

We all agreed this opportunity to speak with and learn from college students was very fruitful outreach. They have energy, know-how, and an interest in ongoing education for peace. We offered the impetus and example to just do it.

The GPB plans to pursue academic outreach and present similar seminars in order to continue a dialogue with student groups.

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade