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US Peace Prize – How much is Peace worth? A Mission to change the US War Culture | Pressenza International | March 16 2020

A Mission to change the US War Culture 

Teaching foreign language in a public high school through the horrors of 9/11 and the subsequent calls for war had been challenging for those like me who believe in making connections in our world and beyond. We had always been encouraged through best practices to use authentic material in lesson plans and classroom realia.

So, a crowning achievement in my classroom had been the permanent display of the Italian PACE (peace) flag, a universal symbol of peace and solidarity, before, during and after the Iraq War. It was hung from millions of homes, businesses, balconies throughout Italy, the EU, and places worldwide to oppose and warn against the insistence of the U.S. government to wage war. Students enjoyed exchanging peace signs, yet these simple peaceful acts are often condemned in the U.S. as subversive and unpatriotic.

Why isn’t peace a priority? After all, we all ideally want our families to get along, have peace in our own lives through techniques of deep breathing, exercises, music, prayer, and/or meditation? So why doesn’t this concept follow on a greater scale? There are several theories, but one of the best proposed comes from Michael D. Knox, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and founder of the US Peace Memorial Foundation. (https://www.uspeacememorial.org)

Dr. Knox’s idea proposes giving value to promoting peace by honoring those who take a stand in its honor. In addition to the proposal of a US Peace Memorial to give balance to those people and organizations who have and continue to work tirelessly for peaceful alternatives to war, there are two other parts of this organization.

A publication, the US Peace Registry (https://www.uspeacememorial.org/Registry.htm) recognizes and documents the activities of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and organizations that have publicly opposed military solutions (including invasion, occupation, production of weapons of mass destruction, use of weapons, sanctions, and threats of war), rather than diplomacy and global cooperation, to solve international problems. Dr. Knox’s hope is that “honoring these courageous role models and leaders will inspire new generations of Americans to speak out for peace and to work to end the hatred, ignorance, greed, and intolerance that lead to war.”


Ajamu Baraka awarded
the US Peace Prize 2019
with Michael D. Knox,
founder of the US Peace
Memorial Foundation.

Choosing from among those recognized in the US Peace Registry, this not-for-profit Foundation awards the US Peace Prize each year  to recognize and honor the most outstanding American antiwar leaders. These courageous individuals and organizations have publicly opposed U.S. war and militarism, often at great personal sacrifice.  US Peace Prize recipients include: Ajamu Baraka (2019), David Swanson (2018), Ann Wright (2017), Veterans for Peace (2016), Kathy Kelly (2015), CODEPINK Women for Peace (2014), Chelsea Manning (2013), Medea Benjamin (2012), Noam Chomsky (2011), Dennis Kucinich (2010), and Cindy Sheehan (2009).  Nominees considered by the US Peace Memorial Foundation in 2019 included Erica Chenoweth, Stephen D. Clemens, Thomas C. Fox, Bruce K. Gagnon, Jewish Voice for Peace, National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, Sally-Alice Thompson, Women’s March on the Pentagon and World BEYOND War.

These role models are celebrated to inspire other Americans to speak out against war and to work for peace.

But how can people participate?  To help continue this important work, join the list of individuals, organizations, and US Peace Prize recipients who are Founding Members, and have your name permanently associated with peace. Founding Members are listed on the website (https://www.uspeacememorial.org/Donors.htm), in the US Peace Registry, and eventually at the US Peace Memorial, a national monument to be built in Washington, DC. Then, as one or the nearly 400 Founding Members, you may nominate individuals or organizations to be considered for the 2020 US Peace Prize.  International supporters are also welcome to participate.  One Founding Member from Holland wrote “…the whole world would benefit from a less militaristic USA.”  Nominations close on April 30 this year.  See the details of the nomination process at the bottom of https://www.uspeaceprize.org.

By understanding, sharing, and supporting the vision of building a peaceful world, we validate those who dedicate their time and efforts in honoring it. The US Peace Memorial Foundation makes known the antiwar sentiments of many American leaders—views that history has often ignored—and by documenting contemporary U.S. antiwar activism, they send a clear message to citizens that advocating for peaceful solutions to international problems and opposing war are honorable and socially acceptable activities in our democracy.  In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.

Watch the 2019 US Peace Prize presentation

 

Source: https://www.pressenza.com/2020/03/us-peace-prize-how-much-is-peace-worth/

 

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One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way | CounterPunch | Richard Moser | Feb 21 2020

Q. What cloaks the empire and turns a mighty movement into a mirage?

A. Narrow partisan politics.

When anti-war activism plays second-fiddle to “follow the leader” the chosen champion and the opposing villian loom so large that they become the main focus of attention obscuring the empire and dumbing the movement down.

But, build independent peace organizations — of any kind for any project — and we will put the movement on a firm foundation. If history is a guide, the most effective and committed voices for peace will come from an independent position largely outside of electoral activity. Applying stronger “outside” pressure on “inside” politicians and parties is the best recipe.

As Ajamu Baraka details in Black Agenda Report, anti-war activism driven by partisan loyalty is weak and limited. Partisan activism substitutes loyalty to a party for loyalty to our class interests and our political or environmental values — all of which demand peace and dismantling of empire. This is as true for the anti-interventionist conservatives that followed Trump to war as it is for the Democrats that only oppose Republican-led aggression.

Here is the essential history. The 2003 global demonstrations before the Gulf War were the largest peace demonstrations ever. But the size of the movement masked weakness: millions of those protesters lacked a truly political or anti-imperial opposition to war. The moderate tone of the protests failed to deliver either sustained disruption or systemic analysis. Going from weakness to weakness, the inability of even gigantic demonstrations to stop war further discouraged many. And, far too many protested only the outrages of Bush — a Republican President.

Obama, on the other hand, extended Bush’s wars and relied on drones, mercenaries and  “moderate rebels” to lower US casualties and hide the war from the public. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize and made everything seem cool again –including war. As the partisan protesters dropped out — comfortable with a Democrat in the White House — the real anti-war movement struggled just to survive.

Once again hopes ride high that politicians will save us but an anti-war movement with eyes on the prize must avoid a narrow partisan approach.

To state the obvious: the empire in its current form is not a mere policy choice of particular politicians or parties. Rather, it is a system of alliances and military bases that enforce a global order. The current US empire is an interlocking structure that merges the corporation and the state  —  the Military-Industrial-Complex being the prototype of that merger. Since WWII both Democrats and Republicans have supported the empire with few exceptions.

Even still, it’s kind of amazing that the leading Democrats — in the middle of impeachment proceedings — supported the 2020 NDAA giving Trump a green light for war. Huge war budgets, a new Space Force, the elimination of all restrictions on the power of presidential wars and the use of force against Iran and Venezuela handed Trump the keys.

The hawks in control of the Democratic Party must be taken to task. Look here to see who voted for the NDAA in the Senate, who voted against it and who did not vote at all.

A shallow partisan stance will not lead us to anti-imperialism but we can counter with messages that emphasize the cultural and systematic nature of war and empire. The deep culture of war is hate and fear of the “other” contrasted to our own exceptional innocent white morality. Whether you go around stirring up the hate and fear of immigrants, or women, or Blacks — or Iranians, Muslims, Russians, or Chinese — you are stirring the imperial pot.

If we are only against hate and fear when the Republicans do it we are not against war.

May the Sanders and Gabbard campaigns turn us toward love and compassion. But, this empire has deep roots far beyond the reach of electoral activity. Show me a single example in world history of an empire dismantled in an orderly fashion by an election.

 

What Are Our “Units of Power?”

Let’s help people make the transition beyond the pro-war, pro-corporate consensus that dominates US politics. That transition will be primarily based on personal experience in a poly-centered movement large enough, diverse enough and audacious enough to disrupt the existing order.

If there is a clear formula for scaling up from the hopeful but small movements of today to more massive movements  — I do not know what it is. But for starters, it cannot hurt to connect empire abroad with empire at home,  anti-austerity efforts with opposition to the poverty draft, and the peace movement with the environmental movement. That’s big synergy for sure.

But synergy needs structure. Pick any project you like, of course, but build organizations to seed a larger movement and to tide us over between dramatic moments of protest.

“Recognizing that no army can mobilize and demobilize and remain a fighting unit, we will have to build far-flung workmanlike and experienced organizations.”

“Our most powerful nonviolent weapon is, as would be expected, also our most demanding, that is organization. To produce change people must be organized to work together in units of power” — Martin Luther King

There is widespread anti-war sentiment but without “units of power,” these attitudes will not become a mass movement.

The empire is a giant machine cranking out racism, misogyny, poverty and climate chaos. War is coming for your children and your planet. Make the connection between war and your community.

Units of power are best built along the paths to anti-imperialism. The Embassy Protectors;  Women’s March on the Pentagon; the Black Alliance for Peace;  National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth; GI Rights Hotline;  US Labor Against the War; Code Pink and the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign are a few prime examples of how to connect communities to the peace movement.

Digital warriors can get in the loop with Americans for Peace and Human Rights, Berners Against Militarism, Tulsi Gabbard Peace Movement and Stop the War Machine.

Or maybe best of all go totally local. Local chapters of Veterans for Peace are working hard as are community-based groups like St. Pete for Peace, Chelsea Uniting Against the War or No F-35 Fighter Jets in Madison.

Sporadic waves of protest, party politics, and appeals to morality will not be enough to reach millions of people. It’s our job — if we truly oppose wars — to build units of power and prove that war and empire are against the economic and political interests of the vast majority of the American people.

Our narrative: the empire is the weapon of the 1%; the engine of austerity; the enforcer of hate and hierarchy; the cause of climate change and the enemy of freedom. Our countermove: organize the unorganized.

 

Warriors Wanted: Does the US Military Prey on Teenagers? | WhoWhatWhy | Rosa Del Luca | Nov 12 2019

Navy, recruiter, high school
Navy recruiters conduct presentations at Everett High School in Boston, Massachusetts, about the Navy's nuclear programs. Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
 
Reading Time: 10 minutes

 

Air Force veteran Eddie Falcon enlisted as a teenager just before the September 11 attacks, partly to escape his violent Los Angeles County neighborhood. “I just didn’t see a lot of opportunities to succeed,” he said. Falcon assumed war “wasn’t something we were doing anymore.” 

He ended up deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan twice, “getting trapped in another cycle of violence — just a different one.”

A few years after returning to civilian life, Falcon started talking to students about his experiences. A Hispanic man, he had witnessed persistent racism and rampant sexism. He also had had qualms about participating in wars he disagreed with.

“I want to tell young people the things that I didn’t know before I went into the military,” he said. “And things that I think a lot of people don’t know before going in.”

It’s no secret that military enlistment declines when the economy is strong, which means recruiters are scrambling once again to meet their quotas. A recent article from Army Times describes Army recruiting as a “grueling, frustrating job” that instills dread in anyone ordered to carry out that duty. 

 

Preying Upon the Vulnerable

Recruitment also sets off an alarm among a much lesser-known group: “Truth in Recruitment” advocates. That’s because the low numbers appear to have recruiters doubling down on their targeting of teenagers — even those who have chosen to pursue higher education. Recruiters say teens are the most qualified age cohort. This may be true, but critics believe a key reason the very young are a choice quarry is because they are naïve and more easily persuaded than older people.

According to a 2016 Population Representation in the Military Services report, 17- to 20-year-olds comprise up to 80 percent of personnel in some branches. And the military appears to be mining data on even younger teens. A 2017 Department of Defense youth poll showed that 16-year-olds are even more attracted to military service than 18-year-olds. 

In a recent Military Times op-ed, Shane McCarthy, the chief marketing officer of a tech company used by the military, argues that younger teens are also less likely to be disqualified by a criminal record, are cheaper to target with ads on social media, and come with the added bonus of being more likely to influence their friends. 

 

North Carolina National Guard recruiter

A North Carolina Army National Guard recruiter addresses students at Central Cabarrus High School in Concord, North Carolina. Photo credit: North Carolina National Guard / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

“It’s absolutely predatory,” said Malathi Iyengar, an assistant professor at the College of San Mateo. Two years ago, during her first semester teaching ethnic studies, she noticed the frequent appearance of recruiters on campus and thought she should warn students to be skeptical of what they often promised.

“I thought I would be doing some awareness raising, but they ended up educating me,” she told WhoWhatWhy. “The class erupted with these stories of siblings and cousins who had been lied to by recruiters. Then they started going into these stories of recruiters hounding them, following them, coming to their houses repeatedly. These were all working-class students of color.”

One student described climbing out of a back window to avoid yet another uncomfortable conversation with a recruiter. Another described being followed at a shopping mall (where recruiters consistently exceed enlistment goals), telling Iyengar he thought he was targeted because he is American Samoan, a group that serves in significant numbers in the US military, according to the Chicago Tribune

But the story that bothers Iyengar the most is that of a young woman whom recruiters managed to discourage from pursuing higher education. 

“A recruiter repeatedly called her, and when she told him she was going to college full-time, the recruiter would say things like this:

You won’t finish … you won’t get a job … you should join the military because that’s something you can really do something with.

“He was preying on legitimate worries that college students have.” 

Every branch of the military has ethical guidelines and processes in place for addressing complaints. Captain Richard Chapman, company commander for four San Francisco Bay Area Army recruiting centers, told WhoWhatWhy he wants to know if any aggressive recruiters were on his team, so that he can address concerns. He says he has yet to receive complaints from College of San Mateo students or educators. 

Iyengar says she doesn’t plan to pursue the matter because she doesn’t know if the recruiters who harass her students are the same as those on her campus, where she is confining her concerns.

“Recruiters hold a very special position,” said Chapman. “It’s a position of significant trust. You have to have a certain status just to be allowed to engage with people about the Army.” 

 

Big Mistake: Trusting Your Recruiter

Those assurances don’t hold much weight for self-described Truth in Recruitment activists, who say recruiters have a long history of luring naïve teenagers into long, legally binding contracts with questionable tactics. No one knows the consequences of these unbreakable contracts better than longtime GI Rights Hotline counselor Siri Margerin.

“I have seen people suffer severe consequences for not doing their homework and for not understanding some of what is being suggested to them,” she said. “A big mistake is trusting your recruiter. They have a job to do, and it is not the same job you have to do.”

While the military claims its vetting process mostly weeds out the sort of person likely to suffer regrets after enlisting, Margerin says second thoughts are common among the recruits she knows. 

“I have had countless sad experiences with talking to folks who are in their first week of basic training and are like ‘I have made the biggest mistake of my life. Get me out of here!’” she said. “They are desperate. Even kids who have dreamed about being in the military since they were six years old.”

She spends a lot of time with people calling from boot camp, working with them to try to build a path out of uniform that leaves them with their self-esteem intact. “They can come out really damaged,” she said. “It’s a huge blow to them, finding out that they can’t stand it. It’s emotionally debilitating. And they’re just at the beginning. It only gets harder.”

 

Navy, plebe, crawling

A first-year midshipman, or plebe, crawls through a tunnel formed by fellow midshipmen while participating in the annual Sea Trials at the US Naval Academy. Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr

 

These stories drive Margerin to visit with activists like Air Force veteran Falcon. Most Truth in Recruitment members say they are not anti-military or anti-recruiter, but “pro-information.” They doubt that teenagers are equipped to make life-altering decisions, when science shows their brains are not fully developed. Right now, 17-year-olds can enlist with a parent’s permission.

 

A Recruiter’s Point of View

Chapman enlisted on his 17th birthday, in 2005. He sees recruitment in high schools and community colleges as a no-brainer. “They’re the most qualified population,” he said. “That’s the time in their life where they’re at a crossroads.” 

He also says college isn’t necessarily the best option for many teenagers. 

“High schools definitely push college, but then we do see quite a few drop out in their first or second year,” he said. “That’s where some of that negative perception comes in — that we come in and try to take students away. Most of the time it’s all about how can we help them reach their personal goals.”

Enter the problem of very unequal access. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2015, public high schools must provide the military with the names of all seniors, along with contact information, or risk losing federal funding. They must also grant recruiters access to campus once a month. Parents do have the right to “opt out” in writing from having their child’s information sent to military recruiters. But the law is weak. A single notice provided through a mailing, student handbook, or other method is sufficient. Consequently, most parents aren’t aware there’s an easy way to opt out. It’s not on their radar.

“We don’t get as much access as people think,” said Chapman. “Some schools won’t let us talk to anybody unless it’s that one time of the month. Some schools are much more open, and we visit them weekly. If a school is not in compliance with federal law, it’s usually a perception issue — that if you join the Army you’re going to have PTSD and you’re going to die. The perception isn’t the reality. For instance, right now, we’re focusing on STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] careers, which don’t have anything to do with combat.”

Only when pressed does Chapman concede that, no matter what your job, you are extremely likely to be deployed to a war zone in a time of war or conflict.

 

Harrisburg Recruiting Company

The Harrisburg Recruiting Company participated in an event at Susquehanna Township High School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Photo credit: Harrisburg U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Obstacles to Telling Kids the Truth

Groups critical of current recruitment practices like Before Enlisting, Stop Recruiting Kids, and the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth struggle to gain access to schools at all. Their mission is to point out what recruiters don’t, such as that you are not guaranteed the job you sign up for, and every contract is technically eight years long. A recruiter isn’t likely to mention the potential for physical and moral injury — or the military’s long history of sexual assault and racism, or its high suicide rate, even though it concedes that these are problems.  

“In most cases it’s not that people don’t want us,” said retired teacher Leni von Blanckensee, who now works with Before Enlisting. “It’s that teachers are just overwhelmed by the demands on them. You can send 10 messages and not hear back, and then someone will respond and ask: ‘Can you come Friday?’ Then the likelihood you and a veteran can drop everything and go is not so good.”

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, California brings in more recruits than any other state. While activists rely on donated time and donated materials to reach kids, recruiters are backed by a huge budget and go out of their way to appeal to educators. Chapman says his recruiters take high-school teachers and administrators every year to NASA’s impressive Moffett Field in Santa Clara County, and to the prestigious Defense Language Institute in Monterey. 

“We also have a trailer coming to Fleet Week,” said Chapman, referring to a weeklong military event that draws hundreds of thousands to San Francisco’s waterfront each fall. “Everybody going to Fleet Week that goes on the Marina Green will see us with the Marines, with the Navy, demonstrating the roles in humanitarian assistance that the military provides.”

Compounding the issue of visibility and access, according to Margerin and von Blanckensee, is a lack of awareness by schools. Under that same Every Student Succeeds Act, public schools must grant access to groups offering narratives critical of military contracts and service. However, educators often don’t know about the rule, or are too busy, or simply do not want to wade into controversial waters.

 

San Francisco Fleet Week

Lamp post banner for San Francisco Fleet Week 2016. Photo credit: Willis Lam / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Von Blanckensee describes one administrator, who she believed was an ally, suddenly reversing course. “She says ‘I was always very much against having military recruiters at school, but to be frank, my niece couldn’t figure out how she was going to pay for college and she signed up. I now see the advantage and I don’t want to discourage kids from having access.’”

It didn’t help matters when Von Blanckensee tried to explain that she wasn’t telling teens what to do, but only wanted to make them aware of both sides of the issue. 

“Military folks are just walking onto campus, not asking for permission, and talking to kids. We can’t do that,” said von Blanckensee. “That’s the frustration. It’s important for kids to know both sides of the story. We know they’re getting the military side of it.”

 

The Stigma of Dissent

It’s a frustration Falcon shares. He feels that students, parents, and educators have been primed to think a certain way about recruiters and military service.

“The biggest thing is the culture in America. [People] see that uniform, and they think ‘yeah, go talk to the kids. You’re serving our country.’ No one wants to question that because there’s a stigma attached to dissent. What, are you un-American? Unpatriotic? But not everybody who wears a uniform is some pure war hero. We have to remember that their job is getting kids into the military. And they have so many resources to do it. They definitely have an advantage.”

Educators like Iyengar, who are disturbed by the disparity and by what recruiters are telling students, are at a loss for a response. She is especially concerned because the College of San Mateo, like many community colleges, also serves high school students, some as young as 16.

“I don’t see any way for us as faculty to hold them accountable,” she said, noting that recruiters appeared on campus on the first day of this year’s fall semester, right in front of the student center. “I can’t directly tie the stories of bad behavior my students told me to the recruiters who visit our campus. It would take a complaint, or several, lodged by students to get them off campus, and then it’s just that one recruiter who wouldn’t be allowed back.”

On her own, Iyengar reached out to Before Enlisting and the Oakland youth-led group BAY-Peace to try and arrange speakers to raise awareness. But students, parents and teachers concerned about these issues in other regions don’t have these resources. 

Veterans who have distanced themselves politically and morally from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan often frown at the term “all volunteer” military. Many, including Falcon, see themselves as products of the so-called economic draft. And they wish they had been a little wiser about the world before enlisting. According to a 2016 Population Representation in the Military Services report, 17- to 20-year-olds comprise up to 80 percent of personnel in some branches.

If the goal is to truly create an “all volunteer” force, where recruits don’t regret decisions they make as teens, critics of current recruitment strategies argue it may be time for the government to reconsider whom recruiters target and where and what they say to them.

Rosa del Duca is a veteran, conscientious objector, and author of Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War, which chronicles her journey from eager recruit to unlikely rebel. She has a companion podcast, Breaking Cadence: Insights From a Modern-Day Conscientious Objector. She may also become a Truth in Recruitment activist soon.


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Official U.S. Navy Page / Flickr.

Source: https://whowhatwhy.org/2019/11/12/warriors-wanted-does-the-us-military-prey-on-teenagers/

 

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Soapbox Supports Demilitarization and the Prison (SLAVE) Labor Strike | Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox | NNOMY, Gary Ghirardi | Sept 03 2018

CLick Link Below to play file on Archive.org
 
This week on the Soapbox Cindy chats with Gary Ghirardi from National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth

Youth camps shape new generations with patriotism, pushups and prayer | Reveal News | Will Carless | March 9 2018

Youth camps shape new generations with patriotism, pushups and prayer

 

 

Students in the Young Marines program in Hanover, Pa., attend a ball at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in October 2017. They wear their finest dresses and suits. Their eyes fix on a large American flag as the national anthem falls from their lips.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

In rural central Florida, a group of children sit on a jetty, their reflections dappled in water the color of iced tea. It is quiet. Stifling, peaceful. The
children pray over the breakfast they’re about to eat and ask for blessings for those whose hands prepared it. And they ask for safety during their
upcoming weapons training, during which they will learn how to disarm a knife-wielding attacker, load a rifle and properly handle a handgun.

 

 

Jasmine Burke, 17, and Joseph Chubb, 17, spend an evening around a campfire in northern Florida in July 2017. The high school sweethearts are students of the North Florida Survival School, where young people are trained in firearm and knife safety and learn basic survival skills in the woods.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

In Harlingen, Texas, young boys loll on the grass in the sunshine, swapping their families’ war stories.

“My uncle killed Taliban in Afghanistan,” one boy says nonchalantly.

Another shares a tale about a relative who tried to sneak an AK-47 back to the U.S. The boys will spend a few more weeks at this private quasi-
military camp, where they will engage in physical, mental and weapons training. Some of them dream of a career in the armed forces.

 

 

Young Marines sing “Yellow Submarine” on a karaoke machine at a ball with their families and fellow students in Hanover, Pa., in October 2017.
The Young Marines is a nonprofit organization with about 10,000 students enrolled nationwide. Enrollment begins at the age 8.Credit: Sarah
Blesener for Reveal

In the small town of Herriman, Utah, children as young as 6 learn the Declaration of Independence by putting it to song. Over a few hot summer
days, they will learn about “Americanism,” a blend of patriotism and history that casually mixes in some of the basic tenets of radical libertarianism.
During one lesson, they’ll pretend to overturn a boat full of tea into Boston Harbor. In another class, these elementary school children will be taught
that it is wrong for the government to force them to pay for social programs in the form of taxes.

 

 

Elizabeth Nelson, 17, dons stripes of black paint on her face in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, in August 2017. She enlisted in the Army the summer before her senior year of high school and will ship out to boot camp three days after she graduates. “I feel like Omaha is not really the place for me,” she says. “So I do kind of want to get the hell out of here.”Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

In a Home Depot parking lot in Omaha, Nebraska, 17-year-old Elizabeth Nelson challenges an acquaintance to a pushup contest. She yells, “15,” without her arms shaking. The boy next to her is breathing heavily and begins to fall slowly to the ground.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

  • Visit: An exhibition of this work in New York City, through April 1, 2018 or in San Francisco, May 3-30 with other Catchlight fellows at SF Camerawork.
  • Read: What Sarah Blesener learned during her fellowship year.
  • Learn: More about Blesener and the funding behind this project.

 

New York-based photographer Sarah Blesener spent the past year traveling the United States visiting youth summer camps and events. She has
photographed and interviewed dozens of children, from 8-year-old Utahns to teenagers in the Bronx borough of New York. She has camped in
sweltering, bug-infested central Florida with religious survivalists and hiked the dusty frontier of the U.S.-Mexico border with 12-year-olds – most
of them Latino – who want to “take down illegals.” Along the way, Blesener gained insight into not only how America’s youth think, but also the
ways adults guide these children onto philosophical, religious and political paths.

The camps Blesener visited – a slice of hundreds, if not thousands, of similar camps – fall into three general categories: patriotic camps, which
aim to instill a love for America and a deep knowledge of the religious roots of the country’s founding; military camps, where children undergo
rigorous physical training and are taught the discipline and skills crucial to a career in the armed forces; and survivalist camps, where kids learn
skills such as building shelters and identifying edible plants in preparation for an apocalypse, natural disaster or the Second Coming.

 

 

Lunch has been served at the Young Marines program in Hanover, Pa., but the students stand and anxiously scan the room. They all had attended
a morning meeting on drug awareness education. But until their commander arrives and says a prayer for the meal, no one is allowed to eat. The
Young Marines focuses on youth development in areas such as citizenship, patriotism and drug-free lifestyles.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

It would be tempting to assume that interest in the camps is directly related to recent shifts in U.S. society, the 2016 presidential election and a
renewed spirit of American nationalism and patriotism.

But there are myriad reasons why these children attend camps. Some are keen to get a taste of military life, eager to see whether they can survive
“boot camp light.” At the Utah patriot camps, most kids have been brought by parents who want them to experience unfiltered American pride they
are unlikely to find anywhere else. And then there are the reluctant campers: the teenagers who lament losing half of their summers to patriotism,
pushups and prayer, but attend because their parents make them and they don’t really have a say.

Many of these camps, especially the military ones, enforce strict dress codes. Taking care of your uniform is one of the primary rules at several camps
Blesener visited. Even the patriot camps have their own uniform – bright red T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “I Love America.”

The less formal camps are run and staffed primarily by volunteers, with paid professionals sometimes brought in to lead firearms safety or self-defense
training. But the organized military camps, most of which form part of sprawling national organizations, have legions of paid staff, many of them veterans.
Increasingly, these bigger camps look more like offshoots of the military than private enterprises, with their uniforms, ex-military staff and weapons –
much of which are paid for indirectly by U.S. taxpayers.

“Overall, I wanted to look at how, as a culture, we pass down patriotic and military traditions to children,” said Blesener, who spent the year as a fellow
at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting with support from CatchLight and the Alexia Foundation. “And I think this is an extraordinarily
interesting time to do this. America is so divided, and I wanted to speak to youth and see if they are as divided and what their worldview is and how
they are being shaped as young adults.”

 

 

A group of Young Marines lingers near the karaoke machine during a ball in Hanover, Pa., in October 2017. It’s about 9 p.m., and the evening is
starting to wind down. Older high school students sit texting on cellphones, younger siblings begin to nod off, and a few parents check their watches.
Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Forging a new ‘Americanism’

President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “make America great again” is a message Julie Knudsen has been propagating for years: Not only
should America reclaim a proud past, but it also desperately needs to regain pride in the greatness of the American experiment itself.

Back in 2011, Knudsen co-founded the Utah Patriot Camp. Aimed at children ages 5 to 12, the camp was a reaction to Obama-era American apologizing,
she said. It was designed to be a safe place where children could learn the glories of the American republic – the beatific nature of this country’s birth.

“We teach the miracle that happened during the Revolution, that God’s hand was involved in the creation of America,” Knudsen said. “A lot of people
come for that sort of stuff.”

 

 

JROTC students from Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Ky., practice for an upcoming national drill competition in Daytona Beach, Fla., in May 2017.
Pressure is high for the students to keep their reputation. Fern Creek has a history of high rankings, particularly its women’s team, which has placed
first for 15 consecutive years.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Without knowing it, Knudsen had tapped into a sentiment that would, five years later, help propel Trump to the presidency. The ethos of the Utah
Patriot Camps (she said there are now 15 across three states catering to more than 850 children) represents a new era of patriotism that closely
aligns with messages and policies being crafted in Washington, D.C.

The messages of “America first” and “Americanism” can be found at the forefront of far-right political movements such as the one driven by Steve
Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, as well as in the pages of literature handed out at camps such as Knudsen’s.

“After the war, everybody wanted George Washington to be the king, because he was such a great leader,” a teacher told the class at the Utah
camp Blesener attended in June. “And Satan tried to tempt him. Did you know that?”

A small boy interrupted: “What does ‘tempt’ mean?”

“ ‘Tempt’ means a kind of trick,” the teacher said. “Do you think he could have done a lot of good? He could have. But that’s not what God wanted,
was it? He wanted this country to be free, right?”

The class took place in the shade of trees in a public park in Herriman. The park had been adorned with dozens of American flags, and they fluttered
in the light morning breeze as the children moved from session to session.

 

 

Uniforms dry on the bleachers at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas, in July 2017. After spending the 105-degree day doing physical
drills, crawling in mud and sprinting through obstacle courses, the boys spend the evening swimming in a pool across the campus. The academy’s
summer camp hosts boys ages 12 to 18, with about 300 cadets in attendance.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Knudsen’s camp is inspired by the 9/12 Project, a now largely defunct organization launched in 2009 by conservative radio host Glenn Beck. Its
motto was “Restoring America.”

Everything Knudsen heard and read about the project appealed to her. So she sent away for a copy of a Patriot Camp Handbook, written in 2010
by a group of Pennsylvania moms as “our attempt to generate enthusiasm in our communities about teaching children what makes America unlike
any other nation.”

The manual became Knudsen’s blueprint for her camp. She expected a few applicants. She got more than 100.

“I think it filled a void,” she said.

 

 

On an obstacle course at West Camp Rapid in Rapid City, S.D., a frustrated team tries for the fourth time to correctly build a makeshift bridge
across a fort. Students from five states around the Midwest spend a week at the Civil Air Patrol Joint Dakota Encampment. It’s a 100-degree day
in July 2017, and some students already have given up and retreated into the shade.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

Most days end in the parking lot at the Civil Air Patrol camp in Rapid City, S.D., in July 2017. The smell of fast food from Arby’s drifts in the hot
wind as students perform drills in unison, wearing matching navy uniforms with Civil Air Patrol decorations.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

The camps feature sessions during which kids sing the Declaration of Independence and include visits from actors dressed as the Founding Fathers.
But there are also sessions such as a “redistribution of wealth” activity, during which half of the children do jumping jacks to earn Tootsie Rolls.
The candy is then distributed evenly among all the kids – including those who did no “work.”

The manual gives guidance on what should happen next: “Emphasize that it is our own individual responsibility to be charitable,” it reads, “not the
government’s job to redistribute our wealth, or take our money to give to others.”

While there are hints like this of right-wing politics in the manual and the lessons, Blesener was most struck by the camp’s overall ethos of
unabashed American glorification and a focus on the U.S. as being founded directly by a higher power.

 

 

Ryan Dunlavy (from left), 19; Nerisa Garcia, 17; and Jeremy Cabral, 19, walk slowly and steadily down a hallway, practicing a room-clearing drill
at a Border Patrol station in Kingsville, Texas, in July 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Boys Scouts of America sponsor the co-ed
Explorer Program, which allows teenagers to explore law enforcement career options.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

A group of small children Blesener interviewed told her proudly that they were being taught how to become “modern patriots.” The children said
they were learning “how God protected the soldiers against the Indians” and how “George Washington was protected by God to not be killed in
battle.”

 

 

Students pray in June 2017 at the Utah Patriot Camp, a weeklong day camp, in Herriman, Utah. The camp for elementary school-aged children teaches lessons on the Constitution, American values, military history, the Bible and more. Camp co-founder Julie Knudsen says the camp was launched in 2011 as a reaction to Obama-era American apologizing.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

“There was a lot of fun educational stuff – making popsicles, that kind of thing – but there was also this really kind of intense theory they were
teaching,” Blesener said. “At one point, they were talking about the Declaration of Independence, and they said it was the first time in history
that anybody had ever stood up to their king or queen, which obviously is just not true.”

 

 

High school seniors Joseph Chubb (left) and Jasmine Burke search the woods for kindling while taking part in the North Florida Survival School in July 2017. The school holds a weekend training event in Keysville, Fla., in partnership with 10 CAN, a nonprofit organization for families of those in the U.S. military.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Public money for private boot camps

At a South Dakota camp run by the Civil Air Patrol – a quasi-military organization primarily funded by Congress – students discussed how best to
display their American pride with a teacher brought in to instruct them on flag etiquette.

“In our generation, we obviously see that people don’t treat the flag with the respect it deserves,” one student said. “What should we do when
we see a group of people disrespecting that?”

The instructor responded, Blesener recalled, by saying the children should intervene and share their knowledge of how to properly handle and
respect the flag with their peers.

 

 

Garett Brauning, 17, dances nervously with his girlfriend, Ariana Grabowicz, 17, at the Young Marines ball in Hanover, Pa., in October 2017. Brauning’s mother had just given a tearful speech about his dedication to the Young Marines, his character as a son and his future. Now, it seems as though every eye in the room is focused on the high school senior.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

Students at the Civil Air Patrol Joint Dakota Encampment in Rapid City, S.D., wait for a critical thinking and self-management class to begin. While most activities are physical, such as drills and firearms training, educational courses take place every afternoon.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

At a camp run by another quasi-military organization, the Young Marines, Blesener watched children as young as 8 go through an initiation ritual
that included dressing and undressing as quickly as possible. Most of the kids broke down in tears, Blesener said, only to be built back up again by their instructors.

As the drills ended, the children were comforted and told that they had succeeded where others had failed. They were now part of a family, an
elite unit.

“Afterward, I was talking to the camp leaders and they were saying, ‘Nowadays, everyone is so politically correct. … Not everyone can take this
kind of initiation, everyone is apologizing for their behavior,’ ” Blesener said. “We just want to be one of those groups that is proud of who we are
and won’t apologize for it.”

Many of the quasi-military youth camps are privately run and funded, with some camps costing thousands of dollars to attend. Other camps are
staffed by volunteers and are free to all. Young Marines camps lie somewhere in the middle, with some charging a nominal registration fee while
the bulk of the costs are borne by the organization.

 

 

JROTC students from Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Ky., practice for an upcoming national drill competition in Daytona Beach, Fla., in May
2017. JROTC is one of the largest youth organizations in the world, with more than 300,000 youth enrolled.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

According to Young Marines’ tax filings, the nonprofit received more than $4 million of its about $7 million in funding from “government grants” in
2014. The tax records offer no additional detail about which grants the organization received. Bill Davis, Young Marines’ executive director, wrote
in an email that the funds are from a federal grant in part for drug demand reduction efforts, administered by the Department of Defense.

 

 

The Warrenton Rifles team, in its eighth year as a program, participates in a marksmanship competition in April 2017 in Warrenton, Va. National Rifle Association grants provide the team with state-of-the art equipment and rifles. Nationwide, about 15,000 students as young as 8 participate in the program.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

Members of the Young Marines, usually boisterous and chatty, are quiet and focused in September 2017 as they prepare for an airsoft competition in Hanover, Pa. Airsoft is a team sport in which competitors use replica weapons that fire plastic pellets to eliminate opponents.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

“It’s a quasi-military recruitment program,” said Rick Jahnkow, an anti-militarist activist who founded two organizations aimed at preventing
children from becoming “militarized” in schools. “It’s intended to plant seeds in kids as young as elementary school, so that eventually they either
become recruitable or, at a minimum, their minds have been recruited.”

Jahnkow and other activists keep a close eye on the military’s attempts to recruit in schools. Traditionally, their campaigns have focused on
programs such as the junior ROTC and military-funded shooting ranges in schools, with some success. They’re extremely concerned about programs –
some funded by the National Rifle Association – that bring guns into schools.

These programs made national news recently after it was revealed that Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old charged with killing 17 people in a mass
shooting at a Florida high school, had participated on a JROTC air rifle team supported by the NRA. Cruz was wearing a T-shirt with the shooting
program’s logo when he was arrested.

But the uptick in recent years of private military youth camps funded with public money has opened a new front in the activists’ work, and it has
them concerned.

 

 

Members of the Young Marines in Hanover, Pa., run through physical fitness drills in September 2017. Drills include pushups, situps, pullups and a mile run. The group meets weekly throughout the year, as well as for some weekend boot camps.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Explorer Program in July 2017, a student practices arrest tactics in a vacant Kingsville, Texas, parking lot. Participants as young as 14 use fake weapons that weigh the same as guns used by active Border Patrol agents.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

“It’s a creeping plague,” said Libby Frank, a member of the steering committee for the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.

“It’s all geared toward getting people used to the idea that the military is a major part of their life.”

Blesener, too, said she was concerned by how these camps exploit children’s vulnerabilities by instilling them with notions of America’s military

might and moral exceptionalism.

“There is absolutely zero criticism of what the American military does overseas at these camps,” Blesener said. “Every single leader you talk to

will deny that these are recruitment camps, but of course, they are. Introducing a child to an activity or a worldview at such a young age is clearly

a way to steer them in that direction.”

One of the children Blesener met over the summer, 17-year-old Elizabeth Nelson, went on to enlist in the Army. Nelson said she learned at the

camp that, on enlistment, she would get credit for her time spent there if she reached a certain rank at camp.

“I was like, ‘Wowzer!’ ” Nelson said. “I had always wanted to enlist, but when I heard about Civil Air Patrol, I was like, ‘This could really help

me in my career.’ ”

 

 

As the sun sets behind Mount Rushmore in July 2017, Civil Air Patrol campers Thomas Dillon (from left),16; Kayla Wayman,14; and Julia Lair, 15, watch a patriotic film describing the history of the United States and the making of the national memorial in South Dakota. Many of the 60 students in attendance have never visited the historical site before.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

Young campers get ready for a bed and room inspection in July 2017 at the Civil Air Patrol Joint Dakota Encampment in Rapid City, S.D. About 60 students from the Midwest, ages 12 to 18, attend the camp.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Prepping for the ‘zombie apocalypse’

Children attending the North Florida Survival School talked a lot about the zombie apocalypse. They were joking, but for the older kids, the term

was a sort of code – an analogy for a coming catastrophe that could be around the next corner.

“The zombie apocalypse is just the fun, easy way to look at it, but the reality is that at any point, an apocalypse could start, whether it is the

economy or a nuclear attack,” said 17-year-old Jasmine Burke.

 

J

avier Velasquez, 18, a student in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Explorer Program, shoots during a firearm training class in Nogales, Ariz., in June 2017. Velasquez’s shot is steady, and he is one of the top shooters in the program.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

 

 

In an empty parking lot of a Border Patrol station in Kingsville, Texas, a small group of high school students practices stop-and-search arrests on one another in July 2017. The exercise is part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Explorer Program. In the background, officers correct the students’ form and tactics and yell instructions.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Many street-smart teenagers in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago probably would sneer at their devout, well-behaved counterparts in rural Florida,

who spend their weekends learning how to build shelters, start fires and find edible plants, as well as holding prayer sessions and singing hymns

by the lake.

Kids such as 17-year-old Joseph Chubb acknowledge this. He is well aware that city kids find it odd that teenagers might want to learn how to

collect clean water or hygienically dig a latrine. But to teenagers attending the North Florida Survival School in late August, the ones who should

be mocked are the teens sitting in their apartments in the big cities, assuming that their lights will always turn on, the Wi-Fi will never go out and

the pizza guy will always deliver.

 

 

In 100-degree heat, elementary school-aged students rest during a July 2017 paintball competition at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen,

Texas. They share stories about video games, war and their families. Their camouflage paintball uniforms, made for children twice their size, hang

loosely over their bodies.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

“Most people in America don’t even know how to light a fire,” Chubb said. “The shelter of the indoors, the increase in modern technology – it’s

obvious we’ve become more dependent on that. When you don’t need to go outside and make a fire, you forget how to do it.”

The three-day midsummer camp outside Ocala culminated in an afternoon session firing rifles at a target by the lake. One by one, the kids donned

ear protection and shooting goggles and learned how to properly load, aim and fire two different rifles.

 

 

Isaac Guevara, 16, dances with another student in May 2017 at the end of the seventh annual Junior ROTC Military Ball at the Villa Barone Manor

in the New York borough of the Bronx.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

For several of the children, who had been shooting for years, the training session was merely a refresher of the rules they had long committed to

memory. But for 9-year-old Austin Gerthe, the afternoon offered some valuable lessons.

“One time, I shot my dad’s shotgun secretly,” Austin confided before the session. By the end of the training, however, the skinny, freckled boy

had yet to master the rules of handling weapons. The instructors decided he was better off just watching.

 

 

Children bow their heads as a speaker at an October 2017 Young Marines ball in Hanover, Pa., booms with gratitude – for God for the meal that

is about to be served, for Pennsylvania, for the Young Marines and for America. Younger children in the corner open their eyes and shut them

quickly. Giggles are hushed by adults.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

There are no reliable statistics showing whether demand for survivalist training camps is growing or waning. Steven Claytor, owner of the North

Florida Survival School, said he has seen demand increase over the last few years, but suggested it had more to do with a flood of survival-themed

TV shows than with Trump’s election or increased global geopolitical tension.

Other survivalist camps reported a more recent boost directly related to the 2016 presidential election.

 

 

Civil Air Patrol students visit the South Dakota Air and Space Museum near Ellsworth Air Force Base in July 2017. Among its exhibits, the museum features vintage military aircraft, a modern B-1 bomber and a Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile.Credit: Sarah Blesener for Reveal

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Dumpy Trumpy took office,” said Shane Hobel, owner of the Mountain Scout Survival School in New York’s

Hudson Valley. He said potential customers are “freaking out” about the possibility of Trump pulling the U.S. into a nuclear war. And they’re worried

his leadership could cause the economy to collapse.

But Eric Giles, who owns the Texas Survival School in North Texas, had a different experience.

“It’s kinda slowed down,” he said. “It slowed down after the election. A certain group of people were worried about (Hillary) Clinton getting in,

but they’re not worried anymore.”

 

Source: https://www.revealnews.org/article/youth-camps-shape-new-generations-with-patriotism-pushups-and-prayer/

###

Growing military presence in high schools | WORT 89.9 FM Community Radio | Pat Elder | March 8 2017

 

https://soundcloud.com/wort-fm/buzz-5-8-17-pat-elder

 

The U.S. military is recruiting high school students, and schools are sharing scores of aptitude tests with the military, without parents’ consent — this according to Pat Elder, author of the book “Military Recruiting in the United States”. Mr. Elder is Steering Committee Emeritus of the group National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, which opposes the growing intrusion of the military in young people’s lives.

###

US Navy's funding of high schools raises concerns | Yahoo News | Mira Oberman | Nov 12 2013

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.”

 

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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.

 

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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.”

 

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/us-navys-funding-high-schools-raises-concerns-222729015.html

See: Conversation with Rickover Cadets on Facebook

###

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