Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Military-Type Public High Schools Becoming Popular In Florida

Who would have thought that the Charter School Revolution would have also included military-type public high schools? And who would have thought that there would be waiting-lists to get in? That's exactly what is happening down in three Florida Counties:

Tired of violence, the hierarchy of social status and academic indifference in schools, Broward [County] parents clamored last year to enroll their children in the proposed school, but code problems delayed plans for the military academy.

Broward still plans to open its school, but Palm Beach County educators say they think a recent visit Utterback [Who will be the new principal.-Ed] led to observe the daily regimen of the Sarasota academy puts them ahead, marking a crucial step toward starting this fall.

The two new schools would be modeled on Florida's only public military school, the Sarasota Military Academy High School. A group of board members from the soon-to-be-opened Palm Beach School toured the Sarasota campus:

Instead of hanging out on the playground and milling about in the hallways before school, they saw the Sarasota students spit-shine their brogans and fall into formation just after sunup.

Students are under orders to call teachers "sir," "ma'am," or by their military titles.

All must enlist in the civil air patrol or Junior ROTC, and can be promoted in rank based on grade point average.

The Sarasota school day began at 7:20 a.m. with silence as the Palm Beach representatives looked on during daily formation.

Students, dressed in light-green hirts and army-green pants, saluted, their backs rigid and shoulders at attention, not daring to glance away from billowing U.S. and POW MIA flags.

Student drummers rolled out stately rhythms as the school band played The Star Spangled Banner. One after another, nine companies of students barked commands, sending puffs of air into the 40-degree silence.

After a student regimental commander shouted out the day's announcements, students relaxed, milled around for a few minutes then filed out, heading to class.

Students that attend these publicly-funded charter schools are not committed to any type of military service after earning their diplomas, but it is probably no coincidence that the army-sponsored Junior R.O.T.C. programs and Civil Air Patrol are popular with students.
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