Being out on the streets, leafleting and providing information to passersby is never so pertinent and effective than on parent teacher conference night. The focus of the action on March 18, 2010, was to ensure that parents and students were aware of the need to sign and return Opt-Out forms to their high schools and to review non-military alternatives for students to reach their goals after graduation.
Thirty-five volunteers participated in the action and were present at 11 high schools throughout the city. Teams included a group from the Lower East Side Girls Club, Peace Action Staten Island at 2 high schools, and volunteers fluent in Spanish, an asset in outreach to many parents.
Volunteer feedback indicates that many high school administrators have implemented the NYC Chancellor’s Regulations, which mandate the implementation and oversight of an Opt-Out program in their schools. But several teams reported that a large percent of parents were still unaware of the importance of signing and returning the form to the school. It may be a case of non-communication between student and parent, but it does require follow up attention.
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 or financial aid for further education, the military choice is put into perspective.
Many 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 parents and students.
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.
I was on a team with a new volunteer from LaGuardia Community College who had never done a street action before. Walking back to the subway after distributing all our flyers, she was so 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 too.
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Thanks to all the volunteers who made this action so successful.
– Barbara Harris – Counter Recruitment Committee
– Photos: Bud Korotzer