Draft Resolution to End Military Recruitment Abuse

By Bill Bigelow

As is true throughout much of the United States, in Portland, Ore., military recruiters lie to and mislead high school students. They show up uninvited on campus. They call students at home. They ask personal questions about students’ future plans and then assure them that the best way these can be realized is by first joining the military. Want to go to college? Join the military. Want to be a musician? Join the military. Want to kickbox? Join the military. Not surprisingly, recruiters frequent schools serving working class and low-income communities. [See “The Recruitment Minefield,” in the Spring 2005 issue of Rethinking Schools.] The following resolution was drafted by a group of teachers and activists who decided that without a districtwide policy, recruitment abuses were sure to continue or even increase. They hope to build community support for the resolution and to have it introduced at a future school board meeting. For more information, contact Bill Bigelow, bbpdx@aol.com.

Whereas: No Child Left Behind regulations (Section 9528) require that public secondary schools “shall provide military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as is provided generally to post secondary educational institutions or to prospective employers of those students;” and

Whereas: Portland secondary teachers, counselors, parents, and students report that military recruiters have pursued students aggressively, including: arriving at high schools without invitation, approaching students with no supervision by school authorities, contacting students by phone and email even when requested not to do so by parents and students themselves, visiting students’ homes, buying students gifts, lying to and misleading students about military life and military regulations (including making promises that recruits will not be sent to Iraq), manipulating or casting aspersions upon students’ post-high school hopes, approaching students in their classes, participating in curricular and extracurricular activities at school (even bringing weapons on campus); and

Whereas: Military access is disturbingly uneven from one Portland high school to another and tends to be more intense in schools serving predominantly low- or middle-income neighborhoods (e.g., Roosevelt, Marshall, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin); and

Whereas: It is the responsibility of Portland Public Schools to promote the welfare of students while at school and at school events, and to provide students with complete and accurate information about the choices they will confront upon graduation from high school; therefore:

Be it resolved that pursuant to the NCLB Act, Portland Public School officials will provide military recruiters no greater access to students than that provided to post secondary educational institutions or prospective employers, and will provide student information to U.S. military authorities only after obtaining permission to do so in writing by an individual student, or by a parent or guardian of the student; and

Be it further resolved that any vendors with access to student information through legitimate business dealings with a school and/or a school’s students may not give, lend, or sell this information to the military or risk being banned from doing business with Portland Public Schools; and

Be it further resolved that in accordance with Section 9528 of No Child Left Behind, military recruiters shall be granted no special access to students; specifically, recruiters: 1. must secure prior permission before coming onto a high school campus; 2. may engage in recruitment activities no more than once per year; 3. may not participate in any extra-curricular activities, including but not limited to field day events, graduation ceremonies, school assemblies, or sporting events; 4. may not bring weapons, Humvees, or other military equipment onto a high school campus for any purpose whatsoever; 5. may meet with students only by appointment and only in a designated counseling or career center; and 6. may not participate in the design or teaching of any course curriculum; and

Be it further resolved that Portland Public Schools students, staff, and parents shall be informed at least two weeks prior to military recruiters coming on campus—publicized in the same manner as for other institutional recruiters; and

Be it further resolved that if a military recruiter is found to have lied to a student, he or she shall be permanently banned from Portland Public Schools; and

Be it finally resolved that recruiters shall not be allowed on the campus of any Portland elementary or middle school.