Articles

Congress Plants Another Pentagon Virus in Public Education

Rick Jahnkow -

Another hole has been ripped open in the barrier protecting U.S. civilians from the influence of militarism. In December 2001, the U.S. House and Senate gave final approval to an education bill with a provision that severely erodes the right of local schools to control military access to campuses and personal information about students. The legislation, signed by President Bush on January 8, 2002, will go into effect soon as Public Law No: 107-110.

The military access law was part of a larger bill (H.R. 1) that provides various funds for local schools and programs to improve student performance. The bill also extends and changes programs begun under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Jr. ROTC Contributes to the School Funding Crisis

Rick Jahankow -

As sources of public money for public education shrink, K-12 school districts are being forced to consider budget cuts that will seriously affect classes and student services. In some places they are reducing or eliminating counselors, school nurses, teacher aides, librarians, and programs like art, music and athletics.

One program that is rarely subjected to cuts is the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), a military training/recruiting program that is currently offered in approximately 4,000 of the nation’s high schools. Even though this course is a non-academic elective that does not count toward meeting admission requirements at state colleges and universities — and schools are scrambling to provide electives that do help students meet those requirements — JROTC is usually given privileged treatment by school trustees who are politically intimidated by the pro-JROTC lobby and often deceived about the money that could be saved by cutting the program.

A Strategic Blind Spot for Progressives

Rick Jahnkow -

Many advocates of progressive social change in this country are asking important questions about possible directions to follow after the 2008 election. For the peace movement, this question is particularly challenging because, while there is good reason to celebrate the defeat of the Republican Party and the election of the first African American president, there is also a real danger that Obama’s victory will undercut anti-war protest if he doesn’t move quickly to end the Bush administration’s two wars.

Many liberals might feel overly confident about the degree of change that is coming and decide that the new administration deserves to be given breathing space. It would then become much harder to mobilize opposition if Obama made good on his promise to shift the emphasis on military action from Iraq to Afghanistan.

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