Truth in Recruitment

Opt-out Program at McKee High School, Staten Island, Oct 23, 2008

Parents/guardians and students were gathering at the entrance to McKee High School (Staten Island) at 5:30p.m., eager to pick up report cards. Between 5:30p.m. and 7:00p.m., Kathy Bayer and I (Barbara Walker) talked with a goodly number of parents/guardians and students about military recruiters in the school and the Opt-out Program and Opt-out Form.

A group of boys, waiting for their parents, took the forms and promised to turn them in to the Principal’s office.  One said he wanted eventually to join the military for the discipline training it provided. I asked him to look at the list in the
2008_10_23_unrecruited
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) brochure, and to pay attention especially to the American Friends Service Committee (all I said to him was at top speed; it is so hard to have a conversation with one person while trying to catch as many others as possible).

A number of parents/guardians/students said they had received the form from the school that morning or the day before (why so late?). A few had turned them in and others planned to do so; some of the latter took forms from us and said they would give them in immediately.

Most gave us a warm and receptive response. Some said yes, indeed, they would turn in the form as they certainly did not want the military enticing their children to join. Several, one woman and two men, said they were “military families” and so did not oppose the turning over of their children’s information to the U.S. Military. The most touching was the grandmother who described the condition of one of her grandson’s who served in Iraq and is now a psychological wreck – and receives little help. She certainly does not want her young grandson to join the military — she was adamant.

At one point the security officer, trying to be helpful, warned me that I should not stand outside the school talking with those entering. I said I had the right to do so. Then the Vice-Principal came out, she said I could not talk with those entering the school and that the school had already taken care of distribution of the Opt-out information; she took the authorizing form Sally Jones had given me and left, saying she would return the form to me (but did not). The Principal came out and asked me to leave. I referred to the authorizing form; she left.

Kathy and I gave Opt-out forms to perhaps fifty people (some — relatively few — managed to go into the school before we could reach them).

-Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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