Saturday, June 18, 2005

More High Schools Just Saying "No" To Military Recruiters

There is a little-known provision of The No Child Left Behind Act requiring schools to release students' phone numbers and residential addresses to military recruiters. By submitting a written request, parents and students over 18-years-old may "opt-out" of this provision and maintain the privacy of these records.

With the war in Iraq becoming more unpopular,
groups of parents and students have begun to unify in efforts to prevent recruiters from obtaining access to these confidential files:
Some critics oppose the federal law on privacy grounds, but others say it provides an unfair opportunity for the military to sway young minds -- especially in economically depressed communities.

"They're not going to all the schools. They're going to the schools where they figure the kids will have less chance to go to college," said U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington. "It's an insidious kind of draft, quite frankly."

But Pentagon officials say the military deserves the same access to students that schools give to colleges and employers.

"In the past, it was all too common for a school district to make student directory information readily available to vendors, prospective employers and post-secondary institutions while intentionally excluding the services," Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

"Having access to 17- to 24-year-olds is very key to us," said Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commander of the Army Recruiting Command, said at a news conference Friday at Fort Meade, Maryland.

"We would hope that every high school administrator would provide those lists to us. They're terribly important for what we're trying to do."
In some high schools, up to 80% of students have elected to opt out.
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