Thursday, April 3, 2008 – Parent Teacher Conference night in New York
The No Child Left Behind Act requires high schools to provide students’ names, addresses and telephone numbers to military recruiters to be included in a military database. Unless a student files a signed Opt-Out form in the high school office, his/her privacy is forfeited.
Although there is a mandate from the NYC Department of Education to provide students with Opt-Out forms at the beginning of the high school year, few seem to get the form, sign it or return it to school. In fact, too many students are unaware of the ramifications of not filing the form – that military recruiters will have their private contact information stored and used for future recruiting purposes. The administration in many high schools has failed in its responsibility to educate students about this option.
To provide this information to parents/guardians/students and bring the Opt-Out forms to their attention, volunteers were present at 10 targeted high schools in under served areas of Manhattan and Queens on parent teacher night. The greeting of volunteers standing outside schools (Protect your child from military recruiters) quickly caught the attention and interest of parents and teachers entering the building. Most parents had no idea that their children’s private information is turned over to the military. They were troubled, sought guidance, and gladly took the opt-out forms and booklets that were being distributed. Many signed the form immediately and returned it to the office.
Teachers asked for more information, a nurse practitioner and school librarian requested literature and Opt-Outs to distribute in the school, several parent-coordinators thanked volunteers for being at the school and hoped to facilitate bringing more information into the school. Some students were interested in making copies of the Opt-Out and distributing them to friends.
The volunteers were well received and thanked for the information and advice they offered. As one volunteer stated: These actions are excellent because they allow parents and kids an opportunity to see that opposition can be public and may spark more action.
There are still a couple of high school administrators who are resistant to outsiders presenting this information to parents. They attempt to discourage the leafleting action, but we have the right and responsibility to do so and will continue.
We thank all 29 volunteers and hope more will be joining us in the Fall at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year. It’s all about education, isn’t it?
– Barbara Harris
Code Pink NYC /Granny Peace Brigade Counter Recruitment Committee
American Friends Service Committee
New York Civil Liberties Union
United for Peace and Justice