We Need to Get the US Army Out of High Schools
Jonah Walters, Jacobin - A smattering of information has been revealed about Connor Betts, the misogynist twenty-four-year-old who killed nine people and injured twenty-seven in Dayton earlier this month.
One of them was that he was in the Bellbrook High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, according to a classmate. We know little about Betts’s time in the program, the training he received, or what impact it had on him. But it’s worth mentioning that we have thousands of kids in America getting military training at school.
An estimated 500,000 high schoolers at 3,400 schools are enrolled in the JROTC, administered jointly by the military and each local school district. Students enrolled in JROTC classes are assigned ranks, taught military comportment and demeanor, and required to wear military uniforms. In most cases, students also receive training in military skills like marksmanship using school shooting ranges.
The Pentagon insists that JROTC is not a recruitment program, but a practical curriculum that teaches integrity and discipline — as innocuous as sports or physical education. But between 40 and 50 percent of students who complete three years of JROTC enlist in the military upon graduation, in part because JROTC graduates can receive enhanced pay and preferential benefits.
JROTC units are supervised by retired military officers who are exempt from civilian teaching certification requirements. To retain federal funding, each JROTC unit must maintain enrollment of 100 students or 10 percent of the student body — leaving the program vulnerable to organized student and parent boycotts.