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Military Recruiters and Programs Target marginalized communities for recruits...
..and the high schools in those same communities

 Militarization of our Schools

The Pentagon is taking over our poorer public schools. This is the reality for disadvantaged youth.


What we can do

Corporate/conservative alliances threaten Democracy . Progressives have an important role to play.

 Why does NNOMY matter?

Most are blind or indifferent to the problem.
A few strive to protect our democracy.

NNOMY in the News

News articles reposted about NNOMY. Includes news reports about our work with associated groups and conferences.

US Navy's funding of high schools raises concerns

Mira Oberman -

Chicago military acadamiesChicago (AFP) - The first time Miguel Martinez visited a college campus, it was for a summer camp paid for by the US Navy, which is investing millions to improve public education and, ultimately, potential recruits.

While cash-strapped school districts are anxious for the help, critics contend that it comes at too high of a cost: the militarization of schools and the indoctrination of the young.

For Martinez, who hopes to be the first in his family to go to college, a science-focused camp at Purdue University was something his family never could have managed without the Navy’s help.

“It got me excited,” he told AFP. “It gave me an idea of what kinds of things I’d be doing.”

Martinez, 16, attends Rickover Naval Academy, a public high school in Chicago whose 508 students wear uniforms and take classes in military history and naval science taught by retired naval officers.

He hopes to get a military scholarship to college and sees enlisting as “one of my main options if engineering doesn't work out.”

View gallery."
Cadets practice their formation on October 22, 2013 …
Cadets practice their formation on October 22, 2013 at Rickover Naval Academy, one of seven public h …

In the meantime, he gets to build robots after school in a Navy-sponsored club.

Public schools, run as military academies

The US military has been warning for years that the poor quality of public education – coupled with an obesity epidemic – is making it hard to find recruits with the skills needed for modern warfare.

That's a real problem for the Navy, where more than half of the service's engineers, weapons developers and other scientific professionals are eligible for retirement in the next seven years.

The Navy announced plans in 2011 to nearly double its budget for supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to more than $100 million a year by 2015.

View gallery."
Cadets practice their formation on October 22, 2013 …
Cadets practice their formation on October 22, 2013 at Rickover Naval Academy in Chicago, Illinois ( …

The latest project is a $2 million partnership with the city of Chicago to enhance STEM education at seven public high schools by integrating curriculum developed by the Navy and supporting after-school enrichment and summer camps.

“A highly-trained STEM-capable workforce allows the Navy and Marine Corps to run our ships, fly our planes and design the next generation of war-fighting tools,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on a recent tour of one of the chosen schools.

Chicago was a natural fit for the pilot project, which launched with a camp over the summer and in schools this fall.

The city already had six public high schools run as military academies, which enroll nearly 2,800 students, the largest contingent in the nation.

And with more than six applicants for every spot, it recently announced plans for a seventh that will combine middle and high school.

View gallery."
Brianna Mendoza explains a chemistry equation on October …
Brianna Mendoza explains a chemistry equation on October 22, 2013 at Rickover Naval Academy in Chica …

The military-style options, with their emphasis on discipline and college prep, are seen as attractive in a city where many schools are disrupted by violence, dismal test scores and high drop out rates.

'They're lying to the public'

But critics say the military already has too much influence on American culture and shouldn’t be allowed to use schools and the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program that operates in more than 1,600 high schools to recruit children.

“They're lying to the public by saying this is about citizenship. It's about discipline,” said Jesus Palafox of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.

“It’s about trying to get soldiers into the military.”

View gallery."
A banner urging schools to 'teach peace' hangs across …
A banner urging schools to 'teach peace' hangs across the street on October 22, 2013 from Rickover N …

School districts should be focused on providing children with a quality education so they don’t need to turn to the military as a way out of poverty, said Darlene Gramigna of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that promotes peace.

“If people want to join, that's a choice,” she told AFP.

“They're creating a climate for young people where they feel the military is the only way for them to get an education.”

But Commander Mike Tooker insists that is absolutely not the case at Rickover.

“We discourage students from enlisting, because the whole point is college prep,” said Tooker, a retired pilot who is the school's military director.

View gallery."
Cadets laugh while doing pushups on October 22, 2013 …
Cadets laugh while doing pushups on October 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois during formation at Rickov …

All 79 students who graduated from Rickover last year were accepted into at least one college or university. They were offered a total of $7.5 million in scholarships and financial aid – most of which did not come from the military, Tooker said.

Not all of them were able to attend college: many didn’t have the financial means, even with some aid. About four to eight students end up enlisting every year – which Tooker said is pretty standard for a school where 86 percent of the students are low income.

Tooker -- a genial man who runs a host of school clubs including sailing and public speaking -- compared the school’s five military instructors to the nuns and priests at a Catholic school who teach strong values to the students.

“We're constantly reminding the cadets what the proper, respectful thing is to do,” he explained.

The mayor’s office defended the military academies as one of many alternative programs used to provide the district's 400,000 students with good choices.

The city has already partnered with universities and major tech companies like Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Verizon and Motorola to advance STEM education in the district.

“The grant from the Navy has just accelerated what we can do,” said Beth Swanson, the mayor's education deputy.

“They have an incredible amount of research in education and training in what happens in the Navy with their own personnel, and they’re able to adapt that to students in Chicago.”


See: Conversation with Rickover Cadets on Facebook


Military Recruitment in Our Schools- Students’ Rights and an NYCLU Guide

November 27, 2011

Peace and Justice Online - 11:12:05

High School Junior ROTCThe New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) reports, “The US Military is aggressively recruiting young people for military service.”  “Recruiters,” the NYCLU states, “often target immigrants, students from poor families and people of color.” The targeting of teens in low income and minority communities is an acknowledged and accepted practice, according to a former military recruiter with whom I spoke.

The military often assigns recruiters to meet with students at local high schools. Schools must allow this, by federal law, if they permit job or college recruiters to meet with students.

High schools routinely provide the military the names, addresses, birthdates, and telephone numbers of their students. This, too, is required by law.  However, students or their parents can choose to “opt-out,” preventing the school from providing this information.  Additionally, schools must inform students and parents of this right to opt-out.

Granny Peace Brigade has generated five years of anti-war activism

Granny Peace BrigadeWhoever coined the phrase "youth is wasted on the young" never met the members of Philadelphia’s Granny Peace Brigade. A group of spry seniors ranging in age from their mid-sixties to their mid- nineties, the women who comprise the Granny Peace Brigade engage in social activism with the kind of idealism typically reserved for the very young.

But that blend of idealism proves fitting when taking into consideration the Granny Peace Brigade’s main objection: protecting this country’s youth from becoming subscripted into the U.S. military and its involvement in Iraq and Afganahastan. "So many kids lose their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan for no reason," explained Granny Jean Haskell. That’s why the Grannies have successfully launched an Opt Out Program in the city’s public schools. Before the program took-off a few years ago, the Granny’s took issue with the fact that public schools gave the military its students contact information for recruitment purposes. Students do however have the option of telling school officials that they do not want their information passed along to the military through the Opt Out Program. But when the Granny’s approached Philadelphia School System Officials about participating in the Opt Out Program, they realized that the program might not be enough to protect kids from military enrollment.

Military recruiters wooing underage youth, activists condemn efforts


DeKalb County residents protest a proposed U.S Marine Corps academy during a school board meeting at Lakeside High School in Atlanta on June 1. The U.S. Marine Corps is wooing public school districts across the country, expanding a network of military academies that has grown steadily despite criticism that it's a recruiting ploy. AP Wide World Photo/Dorie TurnerTashawna Parker, 18, just graduated from Kenwood Academy on Chicago's south side. She can't wait to start classes at Northwestern University, where she will double-major in International Studies and Japanese Culture. But before she heads off to college, Ms. Parker plans on spending the summer working with the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth.

A conference planned for Chicago from July 17-19, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, will bring together activists from across the midwest to discuss strategies to combat Pentagon recruitment tactics—tactics aimed at children as young as 13, according to the activists.

Hundreds Attend National Counter Recruitment Conference


by Emily Pistell, Randy Forsberg Intern
Mass Peace Action Education Fund

David Morales, a recent graduate from Mission Bay High School in San Diego and activist in the Education Not Arms Coalition, walked to the stage in jeans, a baseball hat, and an old jacket with an image of Che Guevara stitched onto the back panel.  As Arlene Inouye from CAMS told the story of how he was denied the right to walk in his high school graduation because of absences due to his community organizing work, the 19-year-old exchanged his hat for a graduation cap.  Since he was not honored in his hometown, Morales graduated with a diploma and high honors in front of a standing ovation from a crowd of hundreds at the NNOMY Counter-Recruitment and Demilitarization Conference. 

The graduation of young David Morales was the beginning of a three day conference in Chicago, Illinois hosted by NNOMY (National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth) from July 17th to 19th, 2009.  At the Chicago AFSC office and Roosevelt University, hundreds of youth and adults gathered to build a movement of resistance to the ever-increasing militarization of American youth and the targeting of students of low-income neighborhoods for military recruitment. 

The NNOMY Conference brought together many activists and organizations as participants and educators.  There were representatives from the AFSC, Alternatives to the Military, Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools (CAMS), War Resisters League, BAY-Peace, Peace Action, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Truth 2 Youth, Center on Conscience and War, Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD), the Student Peace Action Network, among many other counter-recruitment groups. Over 40 states were represented, and the participants ranged from age thirteen to seventy.

The conference began with an opening panel called Education, Militarism, and Counter-Recruitment: Where We’ve Come From and Where We’re Going, in order to give a larger perspective on CR work.  On Saturday, NNOMY offered the conference participants 32 workshops to choose from with  a vast range of topics, from the basics of counter-recruitment work (Race Class and Culture in Counter Recruitment, CR Strategies, Intro to Organizing, Militarization of Education) to taking the movement further (Legislative Approaches to CR, Alternatives to the Military, College Recruitment).  Some of the most compelling workshops were those led by the high-school students who are currently leading their counter-recruitment efforts, including BAY-Peace from Oakland, Ya-Ya Network from New York City, CAMS from Los Angeles, and Educators Not Arms Coalition from San Diego.

Between all the workshops and panels, NNOMY left plenty of time for youth and adults to network with each other in order to build a national movement.  The final day of the conference was left for the participants to form informal caucuses to address specific regional and identity needs, in order to engage in future organizing and planning.  BAY-Peace and CAMS high school students met up with long-time activists to address issues of California, Ya-Ya Network and Veterans for Peace discussed counter recruitment on the east coast, and other regional activists found each other to share tactics and strategies. 

The conference ended on Sunday afternoon with a few words of reflection on the weekend.  The last speaker was a high school girl from Hawaii, who had traveled to Chicago with an educator from her school.  In tears, she expressed her appreciation for the conference, for her community faces its own particular struggle against the military.  The young students at the conference had inspired her to continue her activism, and now she returned to Hawaii with more materials and strategies that she had come with.  She shared the Hawaiian activist cry that translates to “fight on” in her native language, and hundreds of people dedicated to counter-recruitment echoed her words, from high school students to older veterans.  The movement was unified, if only for a moment, and the young girl from Hawaii found her struggle supported by hundreds of others.  She left, as did every other participant, with a wealth of materials, names, and an understanding that there is a growing movement of counter-recruitment in this country.

As Arlene Inouye wrote in the introduction to the NNOMY conference, “This weekend we’ll revitalize the engine of our network by closely examining the nuts and bolts of its most crucial moving parts.  We all have something to offer and all of us have more to learn.  Each of us is integral to this historic effort.”  The power of the conference lay in just that, in the ability for counter-recruitment to empower youth and to allow them to be the educators and experts in the movement.

At the conclusion of the conference, two goals were made clear by conference participants: to further the development of common CR resources and to increase training for CR local organizers.  After this weekend in Chicago, it seemed that all the participants were revitalized and inspired by the level and sophistication of counter-recruitment work going on across the country.

Learn more and get involved at: (National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth)

High Energy and Commitment in Chicago Youth Activists Demand Military-Free Schools


by Jorge Mariscal

On the weekend of July 17, over 250 activists from across the country converged on Roosevelt University in Chicago for the largest meeting ever of counter-recruitment and anti-militarism organizers.  Retirees from Florida and California, concerned parents from Ohio and Massachusetts, veterans from New Mexico and Oregon, grandmothers from Texas and North Carolina joined with youth organizations such as New York’s Ya-Yas (Youth Activists-Youth Allies) and San Diego’s Education Not Arms to consolidate a movement intent on resisting the increased militarization of U.S. public schools.

The building overlooking Lake Michigan vibrated with the positive energy of the diverse participants—people from different generations, regions, and ethnicities mixing together and exchanging stories about their struggle to demilitarize local schools.  For many senior citizens from the East Coast this was the first time they had met much less learned from Chicana high school students who live in border communities near San Diego.  For those relatively new to the counter-recruitment movement, the experience taught them more about the on-going process in which young people are increasingly subjected to military values and aggressive recruiting techniques.

Organized by the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY), an alliance of over 180 organizations, the conference included workshops and caucuses on a variety of subjects ranging from the role of class and culture in counter-recruiting, women in the military, and legislative approaches to challenging militarization.

The growth of the counter-recruitment movement benefited greatly from the Bush administration’s slide into totalitarianism.  While established organizations like Project YANO of San Diego and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Youth and Militarism program had been working for decades to demilitarize youth, the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 for the first time alerted many to the insidious nature of military recruiting in schools.  Many newcomers to the movement began with “opt-out” campaigns to protect students’ privacy and then moved on to the issue of military aptitude tests (ASVAB) that are often administered covertly in school districts nationwide.

Although some activists during the Bush years saw counter-recruitment solely as an antiwar tactic, the participants at the NNOMY conference understood that militarism is an issue that must be confronted with long-term strategies.  As many of them told me, it is less an issue of stopping current wars (although that is important) than it is of inhibiting the power of the military-corporate-educational complex with the goal of slowly transforming an interventionist and imperial foreign policy.

The symbolism of the conference location was especially important given that the Chicago public school district is the most heavily militarized district in the nation.  The current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was superintendent of the city’s schools and oversaw the expansion of JROTC and military academies.  Today, Chicago has more academies and more JROTC cadets than any other city in the country.  Under Duncan’s leadership, it will more than likely become a model for the rest of the country.

As Sam Diener reported at the NNOMY conference, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 mandates that the military work to increase the number of schools with JROTC from the current total of about 3400 schools to 3700 schools by the year 2020 (a list of schools targeted for new units will be posted shortly on the Peacework Magazine website).

The larger context is alarming.  The decades long defunding of public education, the resultant decline of K-12 systems across the country, and the growth of the charter school movement has produced a situation in which the Pentagon is free to wade into the wreckage with an offer many parents cannot refuse.  In a classic shock doctrine maneuver, the military exerts increasing influence in public schools offering desperate parents programs that will teach their sons and daughters discipline and “leadership skills.”  As Gina Perez explained at the NNOMY meeting, working class youth with limited options, many of whom are active in their community churches, believe they can “make a difference” by joining JROTC.

Despite the Pentagon’s denials, there is no question that militarized school programs operate as covert recruiting programs. Recent studies show that about 40% of all JROTC cadets end up enlisting in the military. Activists working in Georgia recently obtained school district documents that refer to the goal of creating “African American and Hispanic children soldiers.”  What the Pentagon hopes to produce, however, is not cannon fodder as an earlier Vietnam War-era analysis might suggest but rather an educated workforce able to complete the complex tasks of a well-oiled, increasingly high tech, military.

Given the difficulty recruiters have had finding enough high school graduates to fill their quotas, especially in those Latino communities that will provide the largest group of military-age youth for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that the military would attempt to create its own pipeline.  If the public schools cannot turn out enough qualified potential recruits, the Pentagon will do it.  Neoliberalism in the United States may not mean generals in the Oval Office.  But it may mean children in military uniforms marching in formation at a school near you.

The model for this aspect of the militarist agenda is the Chicago public school system where for several years minority neighborhoods have seen the increasing encroachment of the military.  Science teacher Brian Roa, who has written about the Chicago experience, described in a recent truthout article how Mayor Daley and Superintendent Duncan oversaw the expansion of military academies.  “One day the Navy occupied one floor of our school,” Roa said at the NNOMY conference, “and before we knew it they had taken over the second and then the third floor.”

At San Diego’s Mission Bay High School, funding for college preparatory courses was decreased while the principal implemented plans for a Marine Corps JROTC complete with firing range for air rifle practice.  Latino students created the Education Not Arms coalition and successfully convinced a majority on the San Diego Board of Education to ban rifle training at eleven high schools.  Similar success stories were recounted last weekend all of which suggest that not only is militarism a high priority issue for the new century but also that youth activism is alive and well.

The fact that President Obama’s daughters attend Quaker schools while his Secretary of Education oversees the expansion of military programs for working class children is one more glaring contradiction in Obamaland.  The young people who attended the NNOMY conference are aware of the contradiction and left Chicago vowing that they will not passively stand by as their schools become centers for military indoctrination.

More information on the counter-recruitment movement is available at the NNOMY website:

Jorge Mariscal is a Vietnam veteran and a member of Project YANO (San Diego). Visit his blog at:

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