Tag Archives: military recruiting

“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

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

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 – 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.

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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 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

Parent Teacher Conference Night Action

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Thursday, October 28, 2010, 34 Counter-Recruitment volunteers were at 12 NYC high schools meeting with parents and students before they entered the school for teacher conferences.

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Volunteers handed out flyers and the Opt –Out form.  These materials provide information about misleading military recruitment inducements, steps to ensure that the military does not get a student’s private contact information, and on-line resources for alternative non-military options for a better future.  In a time of aggressive military recruiting of youth, this action is a direct way to educate families and students about future educational and non-military options to reach their goals.

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Volunteers were able to engage in brief conversations with parents about these issues.  Parents appreciated the information provided and especially wanted to know more about financial aid, scholarships, and CUNY programs available to their children.  Two men on their way to a teen leaders’ youth club program asked for flyers to bring to their meeting. “Those kids really need this info.’

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To learn more about counter recruitment and this project, go to www.grannypeacebrigade.org.  Read about the issues and download our flyers.  Anyone, anywhere can participate in this educational outreach action anytime and, perhaps, make a change for a family or student through such a connection.  A teacher requested copies of the flyers to give to her colleagues at Bronx high schools. The cost of war and the cutbacks in educational programs are shortchanging our youth.

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Let’s turn this picture around and bring positive peaceful solutions and educational resources to all our children. There is good news:  Many schools are now in compliance with the Department of Education Ruling to distribute, explain, and collect the Opt-Out forms from students at the beginning of the school year. Many parents shared their thoughts and were strongly against their children joining the military.  The non-military Options and Alternatives handout can help make this hope a reality.

– Barbara Harris, Counter Recruitment Committee
Granny Peace Brigade / Code Pink NYC
Photos – Bud Korotzer