Opt Out and Student lists





"Opt Out" refers to the process defined in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), later reformed by the Obama administration into the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in which a young person or their legal guardian can choose to withold their contact information (name, address, and telephone number) from being released by their school district or school to military recruiters and the Department of Defense database of people 16-21 years of age.1 If a student has a letter or formed signed by their parents, the law states that the school does not have permission to this student’s contant information to recruiters.2 An additional opt-out form can be sent to the Joint Advertising and Marketing Research Studies headquarters (JAMRS), where information is constantly being collected and bought by the Department of Defense in order to build new marketing strategies for military recruitment. If a student is 18 or older, they can fill out the form. If they are younger than 18, it must be done by their parent or legal guardian.


Schools have varying policies on what forms and letters they accept. Sometimes forms are sent home among stacks of papers students get in their first few days, and as a consequence are often overlooked. Some schools don't have their own policies in place, in which case they must accept your requests in whatever form you give them. Schools may also have deadlines for opting out, usually at the beginning of the school year in October.




Although US military service is voluntary, large amounts of personnel is needed to mantain the constant military offensives abroad as well as hundreds of bases located in different places around the world.3 4 The US government spends large sums of money and personnel on recruitment efforts as a result. These efforts include granting recruiters the same access to US high school campuses as university and job recruiters have, and incentivizing them to use aggressive sale strategies to reach recruiting goals. In the process, recruiters often mislead students about the benefits they would recieve on enlistment, and often gloss over the truth of what military service can be like.


Because of these reason, the fact that schools are required to release student’s contact information to third parties is a dangerous overstep of young people’s privacy rights on the part of the government. It gives recruiters one-on-one access to students in which they can present an unchallenged narrative of military life. Although they are given the same access in school campuses as college and job recruiters, a military career is distinctly different from other career or education opportunities. Choosing to enlist in the US military can carry with it a high risk of physical, emotional, and psychological harm, as well as less benefits than initially advertised.




  • If you are a parent or legal guardian of a person younger than 18 years of age, contact your school to learn about their opt-out policy. Remember: they are required to provide a procedure through which to opt out. If one is not in place, they are required to accept your request in any form availiable.
  • If you are a student and are younger than 18, ask your parents or legal guardian to contact the school on your behalf. If you are older than 18, you
  • If there is not a policy in your school or school district in place, you can help create one.
  • Spread the word! Tell other people in your school, other parents and guardians or write to your local or school paper
  • Hand out opt out forms, or ask school authorities (teachers, the principal, counselors) to hand them out.



1 https://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/Elementary%20And%20Secondary%20Education%20Act%20Of%201965.pdf

2 Idem




Other Resources


 1 https://www.counterpunch.org/2005/07/08/beyond-opt-out/



Revised 02/20/2020


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