The rain clouds passed and the sky cleared just as the De-Fund JROTC Rally on the steps of City Hall began. NY1, FOX News and WBAI were on hand to record our message and 25 peace activists from several organizations held signs and banners. The message was as clear as the sky No taxpayer funding for the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC) program. JROTC is a program designed by the military, instructed by the military and serves the interest of the military. The JROTC program is where the military begins to gain the hearts and minds of our youth. The NY City Council must eliminate the $2.4 million funding for this program and re-allocate the monies to educational programs that better serve our students. Funding this program is a misuse of taxpayer money.
Elaine Brower, Military Families Speak Out, read a letter she wrote to the Mayor and Council Members describing her son’s experience with JROTC in his high school. It was profound and moving. The letter detailed the indoctrination of a child and the general militarization of youth in the program. Cheryl Wertz, Peace Action NY State, spoke about the misuse of $2.4 million slated for JROTC programs, and the military approach to social and political change in the curriculum.
City Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee, emphasized his support for the elimination of funding for JROTC and his responsibility to be heard in the education committee and budget hearing on this issue. He energized us to move forward with our efforts to work toward the elimination of the program from NYC high schools. We were honored that he participated in the rally, added his support, and acknowledged our commitment to working for peace and justice.
Note: You can still call your City Council member and demand that allocation of funds for JROTC be eliminated from the education budget for FY2010. Keep the issue on the table and pressure from the constituents. The budget will be returned to the Mayor’s office in two weeks.
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade