A group of parents, students, teachers and other members of the community in Tacoma calling itself "Concerned Tacoma" invites you to attend a presentation followed by an open discussion on Wednesday, May 18, at 7:00 p.m., at Associated Ministries, 1224 South "I" St., Tacoma. -- BACKGROUND: Concerned Tacoma's "Statement of Concern" is reproduced below. -- Following this is an appeal for solidarity that was sent out on May 4 by Clara Lightner, a Foss HS student, and an update from her on events as of the evening of May 5. -- An article on the Foss HS controversy that appeared in the May 6 News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) is reproduced below. ...
WHAT: "Informed Consent: Student Choice and Military Recruitment" (presentation followed by open discussion)
WHO: Parents, students, teachers and other members of the community
WHEN: Wednesday, May 18, 2005, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Associated Ministries, 1224 South "I" St., Tacoma
[From Concerned Tacoma]
It has come to our attention that the military is increasingly aggressive in their recruiting in our public schools and consequently we are calling for all concerned citizens of Pierce County to attend a public meeting to address this issue. Additionally, on May 4th a student group at Foss High School was not allowed by the principal to hold a meeting on related issues.
The Students Against the Draft and War at Foss High School are demonstrating exactly the kind of civic activism our democracy is built on and our state education system is theoretically funded to cultivate. We hope that the issues that blocked the student gathering at Foss will be resolved swiftly and ethically and that civic involvement will be wholeheartedly supported in future. For more information regarding the Foss incident see the Solidarity Appeal and follow up message at the bottom of this message.
If you are interested in learning more about the issues surrounding military recruitment in public schools, please join us for an open meeting sponsored by concerned citizens of Pierce County:
INFORMED CONSENT: STUDENT CHOICE AND MILITARY RECRUITMENT
Wednesday, May 18th @ 7 p.m.
1224 South I Street
All are welcome, please join us for this presentation followed by an open discussion
Below is a copy of our group's Statement of Concern.
Please pass this on to those who may be interested. Thank You!
STATEMENT OF CONCERN REGARDING THE PRACTICES OF MILITARY RECRUITERS IN PIERCE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS FROM PARENTS, STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND OTHER PIERCE COUNTY COMMUNITY MEMBERS
The presence of increasingly aggressive military recruiters in our public schools is a matter of great concern. With large-scale US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan expected to continue for some time, a career in the military is now a life and death decision for our youth.
Military recruiters are attempting to overcome falling enlistment rates by portraying an appealing image of military life. Much of this effort has been directed toward high schools in working class or minority neighborhoods. At a time of shrinking opportunities for living-wage jobs in civilian life, these students are particularly vulnerable to being pressured into enlistment by persuasive recruiters, with the promises of money for college and skilled job training.
The military promises great opportunities to prospective enlistees but surveys by veterans' organizations show that nearly 85% of those who leave the military say that their former military duties were not relevant to their current job (1). Due to complicated procedures and eligibility requirements, only 35% of those who signed up for educational benefits under the GI bill ever received any benefits (2).
Many parents are unaware that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 gives the US military access to the names, addresses and phone numbers of students in our schools. Parents are often sidelined in the process, as military recruiters contact our youth directly. In this situation young people are hearing one side, the military's. But in a time of war, joining the military is a very serious step. The military isn't just a job; it's eight years of your life.
We see the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) as part of the military recruitment effort, as approximately 50% of all JROTC graduates end up enlisting (3). Furthermore, school districts end up paying out more money for such programs than they receive from the military (4). We question the value of such a program and request that our school boards provide details of the educational content of JROTC programs and an accounting of the cost/benefit consequences for our schools.
Federal courts have ruled that people presenting alternative viewpoints to the military have the right to equal access to students in our schools (5). This has been affirmed by a number of school boards, including Seattle's. The decision to enlist is a morally complex one, especially considering the fact that U.S. soldiers are being and can expect to be deployed much more than at any time since the Vietnam War. We feel it is essential that students have the opportunity to make a well-informed decision regarding the choice of a career in the US military. As parents, students, teachers and other members of the community, we urge our local school boards to address these concerns and establish policies of equal access in our public schools. We invite you to join us.
1. Veterans for Peace (2005, Winter). In harms way. Findings from a study, partially funded by US military, conducted by Mangum, S. and Ball, D., Ohio State researchers. Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.veteransforpeace.org/In_harm_s_Way.pdf.
2. Report: Trading Books for Soldiers: The True Cost of JROTC, American Friends Services Committee. Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.afsc.org/pwork/0410/041021.htm.
3. American Friends Service Committee. Quote from Lt. Commander Ray Kempisty, Public Affairs Officer, national headquarters of the Naval JROTC. Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.afsc.org/pwork/0410/041021.htm. American Friends Service Committee. JROTC booklet. p. 5. Report states that Army JROTC figures are similar. Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.afsc.org/youthmil/jrotc/msitps.pdf.
4. Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. (2004). Why Question the Military's JROTC Program? Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.objector.org/jrotc/why.html.
5. San Diego Committee v. Governing Bd, 790 F.2d 1471, US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit Court, 1986. Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.comdsd.org/pdf/ninthcirc.pdf; and Searcey v. Crim, 815 F.2d 1389, US Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit, 1987. Retrieved May 5, 2005 from www.objector.org/moos/searcyvcrim.html.
COPY OF E-MAIL MESSAGES FROM STUDENTS AGAINST THE DRAFT AND WAR
URGENT SOLIDARITY APPEAL: Defend free speech at Foss High School!
By Clara Lightner, sophomore at Foss High School (Tacoma, WA) and activist with Students Against the Draft and War
Come To Foss High School Today, Thursday, May 5, at 2:05 p.m. to Support Students Freedom of Association and/or Call Foss Principal and the Tacoma Schools Superintendent. Numbers below. Foss HS is on 19th. Turn in the entrance across from Fred Meyer (same as the one to Cheney Stadium) and go to the second parking lot.
May 4, 2005
Tomorrow, May 5, we were planning to hold a teach-in against military recruitment in schools.
However, under pressure from the JROTC at my school, my principal, Sharon Schauss, informed me today that our meeting would be canceled. This is a violation of our free speech rights and is effectively denying dozens of students interested in Students Against the Draft and War the right to organize. Meanwhile, military recruiters and the JROTC program have the freedom to regularly push their agenda at my school.
I am asking you to call and/or e-mail my principal and Superintendent James F. Shoemake, and urge them to respect our free speech rights and allow our meeting to go on as planned. Their contact information is listed below.
A few months ago, I began working with local anti-war activists to start a counter-military recruitment campaign at my school. Over fifty students signed up to support or join Students Against the Draft and War. The teach-in tomorrow was going to be the first big public event for our group. We planned to show a documentary and have a counter-military recruitment organizer from Minneapolis come in to speak.
However, yesterday, Chief Allen, a JROTC instructor, confronted my vice-principal and my teacher, who had offered access to his classroom for our after-school meeting. Chief Allen accused my teacher of trying to take his job away. Also, some students in my school's JROTC program were planning to disrupt the meeting by bursting in wearing their combat uniforms.
Then today, Principal Schauss approached my teacher and I during lunch and informed us that our meeting was being canceled. Principal Schauss stated the reason for canceling our meeting was that we had not given her proper notice and that we were not already an approved student club. But student charters are only allowed in the fall, which prevents students from organizing around issues at any other time in the year. If a guest speaker came to talk to students starting a chess club in the Spring, the principal would not try and shut them down.
We are able to draw the conclusion that this is politically motivated. Principal Schauss even explained to me that she was only endorsing one program at our school concerning this issue, and that was the JROTC. This attitude shows the powerful influence of the military in Tacoma and of the JROTC, which has programs in every public high school in this city.
PLEASE CALL TODAY
Principal Sharon Schauss: 253-571-2300
Superintendent James Shoemaker: 253-571-1000
Thank you so much for your support.
Clara Lightner, sophomore at Foss High School, Tacoma, WA: Students Against the Draft and War
UPDATE -- May 5, 2005
Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2005 10:41 PM
Subject: Update from student Clara Lightner: Principal cancels teach-in on counter-recruitment at Foss High School in Tacoma
Students Against the Draft and War held the press conference. Quite a few students showed up. The principal had called the police in just in case it got "out of hand." We had two speakers and I also spoke. The crowd of students was very receptive. The JROTC tried to interrupt the meeting by starting to laugh loudly as a group in the middle of my speech. I thanked them for being so mature and went on talking. We had 40 students sign up to join the Students Against the Draft and War e-mail list. The principal came over the intercom in the middle of the conference and told everyone to leave. No one left and just ignored her. She finally came out and told us we'd be meeting Friday after school along with members of the JROTC program to schedule a joint meeting where both sides speak. We are going to refuse this offer because we want to have a meeting to build our student group. We aren't looking for a debate. We will also present her with three key demands:
1. The right to find out two weeks before the military recruiter is scheduled to come to our school that they are coming. We also want the right to put up a table there with alternative points of view.
2. The right to have weekly meetings in the school in order to build our student club.
3. Permission for having the meeting next Tuesday that we had planned for today, including the guest speaker.
My mother is also talking to the principal tomorrow about the personal threats I've been getting from JROTC members. We are still going to fight for our right to assemble and speak out and will not back down from our demands. Thanks to everyone who has been calling, and keep calling in until we receive written permission for those demands.
HELL, NO, THEY WON'T GO ALONG
By Martha Modeen
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
May 6, 2005
[PHOTO CAPTION: Foss High School sophomore Clara Lightner leads a rally against military recruiters on campus after classes were over at the Tacoma school Thursday.]
About 60 students turned out Thursday to Foss High Schools courtyard to watch fellow students protest military recruiters at the Tacoma school.
The small, informal protest took on an added urgency, some students said, because they felt their free-speech rights were curtailed when Principal Sharon Schauss canceled a student teach-in designed to give an opposing view of whats given by military recruiters. Students alleged that Schauss caved in to pressure from the schools Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, a training program for students interested in the military. A JROTC official denies he tried to have the event canceled.
Students, with the help of a local activist group, earlier this week sent an e-mail message to 10,000 activists across the country urging them to call school administrators. They say courts have upheld students right to express opposing viewpoints.
It is required by law to have representation from both sides, sophomore Clara Lightner barked into a bullhorn, steps away from the schools flagpole.
I dont want my information sent out to the military, said Rachael Herd, 15.
The schools administration, however, maintains it didnt violate anyones free-speech rights. Rather, the event wasnt allowed because students, including Lightner, didnt fill out the proper forms, which includes disclosing the content of guest speakers remarks, school officials said. Activists with Tacoma Counter Recruitment Coalition, an array of individuals and groups opposed to the Iraq war, were present at Thursdays rally.
Nothing was given to the principal, nothing was approved, said Kevin Ikeda, assistant principal. It was clearly a procedural issue. They didnt follow procedures in terms of the process.
Schauss did not return calls for comment.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, the military can request the names and addresses of students. Some students, including Lightner, maintain that military use of their student information is tantamount to a back-door draft. Lightner said she wanted her fellow students to know they can remove their names from disclosure by writing a letter to the school at the start of the year.
The schools JROTC program officials thought it was unfortunate that they were being portrayed as being against free speech.
All I did was put a note on the flier that said, Is this approved? said Steven Allen, an aerospace science teacher whos affiliated with the JROTC. Weve dedicated our lives to defending free speech.
JROTC students watching the protest declined comment.
Allen said he said he did not silence his students on the issue, but asked them to remain civil in their conduct.
Some students shied away from the ruckus.
Neither side should try to agitate, said Alisha Chromey, a sophomore.
Thursdays protest was the latest instance of Foss students flexing their protest muscles. Two years ago, students held an anti-war teach-in, followed by an assembly that offered an opposing view.
Last year, Foss High School students threatened to boycott the states assessment exam if the school board didnt ensure that prep classes would continue for ninth- and 10th-graders enrolling in a rigorous college prep program. Students eventually received the assurances they wanted and took the test.