Articles

How the Military Collects Data on Millions of High School Students

Charles Davis/ Vice -

High school students in the Junior ROTC. Photo via Wikimedia CommonsThe calls started when I was a junior in high school—always in the evening, always after The Simpsons and always with an older gentleman on the other end of the line.

“Charles, there's someone who wants to speak you,” my mother would yell from the kitchen. She showed no concern as she handed me the phone, no alarm in her eyes over all the calls she was getting from strange middle-aged men looking to chat up her vulnerable teenage son. That's because these creepers called themselves “colonels” and “sergeants,” which lent authority to their predation. These men were military recruiters – and the bed they wanted to get me in was housed in some barracks.

A few weeks earlier, a uniformed Marine had come to my high school, set up an efficient little booth in the cafeteria and, in exchange for a stupid hat or a bumper sticker, convinced me and some other boys desperate to be men to give him our names and home phone numbers. After that, at least once a week I had to deal with a recruiter calling me “dude” or “man” while promising that military service would allow me to see the world and sleep with many of its women.

I never did join up, but the recruiters kept calling—once they have your information, it's pretty hard to get them to admit defeat. And they have a lot of people’s information.

More than 30 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 have details about their lives stored in a Pentagon registry called the “Joint Advertising Market Research Studies” (JAMRS) database, their names, phone numbers, email addresses, ethnicities, and other identifying information available to recruiters 24 hours a day. Since 2001, any school that receives federal funding is required under the No Child Left Behind Act to provide the Pentagon such data on all students in 11th and 12th grades, as well as grant recruiters access to their campus.

Student Privacy and the Military in Connecticut: Don't Let SB 423 Die!

The National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy -

 Student Privacy and the Military in Connecticut  Don't Let SB 423 Die!The military in Connecticut's General Assembly influence runs counter to the sensibilities and civil liberties of the citizens of the Constitution State. Apparently the Department of Defense has such clout few have the courage or political will to oppose it. This is not what democracy looks like.

On Thursday SB 423, "An Act Concerning Student Privacy and the Administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery" was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs for legislative death. Co-Chair Jack Hennessy (127th Assembly District - Bridgeport) has "serious reservations" regarding the bill. How odd it is that legislation designed to protect the privacy of Connecticut High School children should be re-routed through the Committee on Veterans' Affairs!

A child can go to school in Connecticut, be tested by the Pentagon, and have tests results, detailed demographic information and social security numbers released to recruiters without parental consent or knowledge.

Information gathered as a result of the administration of the ASVAB is the only information leaving Connecticut's schools about children without providing for parental consent. SB 423 would change that. The members of the Education Committee overwhelmingly thought it was a good bill, but Jack Hennessy has serious reservations. How does this work, exactly?

The ASVAB is the military's entrance exam that is given to fresh recruits to determine their aptitude for various military occupations. The test is also used as a recruiting tool in 106 high schools in Connecticut and nearly 12,000 across the country. The 3-hour test is used by the US Military Entrance Processing Command to gain sensitive, personal information on 3,750 Connecticut kids and 660,000 high school students across the country every year, the vast majority of whom are under the age of 18.

According to military regulations the primary purpose of the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Batter) is to provide military recruiters "with a source of leads of high school juniors and seniors."

Education Alert: Military Teaches Our Kids

Flickr/U.S. Army RDECOMThere’s a saying in the Army recruiting community: “First to contact, first to contract.” In the United States, you have to be at least 17 years old to enlist in the armed forces. But, according to those who make a living tracking students’ feelings about the military, it would be pure folly not to start before then. Enter public education. In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, the Department of Defense (DoD) was administering more than a dozen different programs and spending close to $50 million on K–12 outreach targeting the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

As school budgets continue to be decimated, it can be hard for some educators to turn down free STEM education. “The Pentagon has money,” as Corey Mead puts it in his book War Play, “and our public schools are starved for funds.” In their enthusiasm for Pentagon-supported STEM initiatives, educators can forget to check whether there are other motives besides spurring a love of science in the young. In fact, by avoiding the “recruitment” label, the military is able to use STEM education as a Trojan horse to gain access to students and plant the seeds for eventual recruitment.

Militarizing the STEM Curriculum

One of the DoD’s largest K–12 programs is the Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP), which consists of at least nine distinct STEM educational programs. During the 2011–12 academic year, the AEOP reached nearly 53,000 students. John Parmentola, Army director of research and laboratory management, says that one of the AEOP’s goals is to encourage youth so that “someday some of them may decide to work in an Army laboratory or join the Army with an understanding of how technical fields support the Army’s mission.”

Passing the Torch, at Last: Finding a New Generation of Anti-War Activists

William T. Hathaway -

Not your soldierThe following is an excerpt from the book, Radical Peace: People Refusing War, by William Hathaway. It is a collection of reports from antiwar activists who share true stories of their efforts to change our warrior culture. This chapter was contributed by a "Granny for Peace," who tells of finding young allies in the struggle against military recruiting. Due to the PATRIOT Act, she wishes to remain nameless.

I grew up in the 1950s, when the USA was very conservative and bound by traditions. My parents' generation had grown up in the Depression amid poverty and then struggled through World War Two with its threat of death and destruction. By the time they were ready to start families, they were fixated on stability and security. They measured their progress by their possessions: buying their first car, first television, and first house. Their morality centered on controlling sexuality and protecting private property. Their religion was a death cult of stern patriarchs, obedient virgins, innocent babies, and threats of eternal torture. Their deepest philosophy was, "There is no free lunch." The peak of their scientific achievement was the hydrogen bomb. Fear was their strongest emotion.

Play virtual war as much as you like, but don’t shoot at the Red Cross!

Permanent Observatory on Small Arms, Security and Defence Policies (OPAL) -

(See article of origin from International Red Cross below Notes on this Press Release by OPAL)

NPR: A gamer plays a war game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June. The ICRC wants war games to spread understanding of the rules of armed conflict.The Permanent Observatory on Small Arms, Security and Defence Policies of Brescia (Italy) considers “inappropriate and counterproductive” the initiative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to cooperate with companies that develop and produce video games reproducing real-war situations to introduce into such video games the rules of war and international humanitarian law.

A recent statement released by the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report s that “The ICRC has started working with video game developers, so that video game players face the same dilemmas as real soldier”. 1

"Not only does this legitimise the use and dissemination of these video games but, paradoxically, it contributes to making them even more realistic, thus creating a dangerous affinity between the game an d reality» - says the Permanent Observatory on Small Arms (OPAL) based in Brescia.

"We acknowledge – continues the statement of OPAL – that today these video games have a global circulation and we understand the need to find ways of avoiding that they may further promote a notion of war as an indiscriminate reality. But we believe that the effort to include the rules of war so as to make these video games “closer to reality” 2 is artificial and, above all, counterproductive".

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) , after releasing last year a paper 3 on the relationship between “video games and humanitarian norms”, has decided to collaborate with developers of video games that simulate real situations of war. “The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – reports the statement released by the ICRC – has publicly stated its interest in the implications of video games that simulate real-war situations and the opportunities such games present for spreading knowledge of the law of armed conflict”. “However – the statements notes – the ICRC is not involved in the debate about the level of violence in video games”.

In Chicago schools' Junior ROTC programs, some see a troubling trend

Matthew Kovac -

From left: Yasmin Nair, Jesus Palafox and Owen Daniel-McCarter. Photo by Carrie MaxwellBeate Medina was returning home from walking her dogs one evening in May 2004 when she saw two Army officers standing at her door. The sight did not immediately register. Uniformed officers are a common sight at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii, where her husband’s division was based, and their street was being renumbered. She thought they had the wrong house.

It was not the wrong house. Staff Sgt. Oscar Vargas-Medina, a 32-year-old construction equipment repairman with the 84th Engineer Battalion, had been killed along with another soldier when their convoy was attacked in Al Amarah, Iraq.

In the days that followed, Medina could not sleep; time as a concept ceased to exist. “It was like I was in a fog,” she said.

Born in Cali, Colombia, Vargas-Medina grew up in Chicago and attended Roberto Clemente Community Academy High School, where he was a member of the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. When he went on to join the Army in 1992, Medina said he was likely thinking about how to provide for his first wife and their young son.

The Childrens Crusade

Jennifer Wedekind -

Military programs move into middle schools to fish for future soldiers

Tarsha Moore stands as tall as her 4-foot 8-inch frame will allow. Staring straight ahead, she yells out an order to a squad of peers lined up in three perfect columns next to her. Having been in the military program for six years, Tarsha has earned the rank of captain and is in charge of the 28 boys and girls in her squad. This is Lavizzo Elementary School. Tarsha is 14.

A high school JROTC at the dedication of the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.The Middle School Cadet Corps (MSCC) program at the K-8 school is part of a growing trend to militarize middle schools. Students at Lavizzo are among the more than 850 Chicago students who have enlisted in one of the city’s 26 MSCC programs. At Madero Middle School, the MSCC has evolved into a full-time military academy for kids 11 to 14 years old.

Chicago public schools are home to the largest Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, which oversees the MSCC, in the country. When moving up to high school, Chicago’s graduating eighth-graders can choose from 45 JROTC programs, including three full-time Army military academies, five “school-within-a-school” Army JROTC academies and one JROTC Naval academy.

Proponents of the programs tout leadership training and character development. But critics quote former Defense Secretary Gen. William Cohen, who described JROTC as “one of the best recruiting services that we could have.” Rick Mills, the director of Military Schools and JROTC for the Chicago Public School system, dismisses these concerns. “These kinds of programs would not be in schools if there weren’t kids who wanted it, parents who supported it and administrators who facilitated it,” he says.

The elementary school cadet corps is a voluntary after-school program that meets two or three times a week. Programs differ from school to school, but MSCC students generally learn first-aid, civics, “citizenship” and character development. They also learn military history and take field trips to local military bases. Once a week, students wear their uniforms to school for inspections. Tarsha describes buffing her uniform shoes in preparation for inspection days. “Everything has to be perfect,” she says. During drill practices they learn how to stand, turn and salute in synchronization. When they disobey an order, they do pushups. “Only 10,” says one administrator.

Joanne Young, a sixth-grade teacher at Goethe School in Chicago, recently wrote a letter to the local school council protesting the implementation of the cadet corps in her school. “I was told that it is not a military program, yet every aspect of it is military,” she wrote. “This program is training our students, as young as 11-years old, to march in formation and carry guns. … Students could be suspended for bringing something that appears to be a weapon to our school, yet we are handing them fake guns for this program.” Young, like many other teachers, feels that leadership and discipline could easily be taught in other types of after-school programs.

Herman Barnett, director of Lavizzo’s award-winning MSCC program, asks the public to give the students the benefit of the doubt. “They don’t look at it as getting ready for the army,” he says. “They’re just doing it for entertainment and fun.”

In 2002 the Bush administration passed the No Child Left Behind Act with a small, unpublicized provision: Section 9528, “Armed Forces Recruiter Access to Students and Student Recruiting Information,” requires high schools to give all student contact information to the military. Most students aren’t aware they can opt out by filling out a form.

Ranjit Bhagwat, an organizer for Chicago’s Southwest Youth Collaborative, has worked with students at Kelly High School in Chicago to inform their classmates about the provision and how to opt out. The Kelly group, founded in January, has already convinced more than 10 percent of the school’s population to sign the opt-out petition. Bhagwat says the group targeted military recruitment because the students felt the military’s presence in their school was an issue that needed to be addressed. “They had a problem with the fact that there were a lot of lies the military told,” he says.

The MSCC and JROTC programs are funded by the Defense Department, which has a $3 billion annual recruitment budget. Recruitment officers roam high schools promoting the image of a secure military career and enticing students with promises of money for college.

The “lies” mentioned by Bhagwat include the reality that, on average, two-thirds of recruits never receive college funding and only 15 percent graduate with a four-year degree. As for a “secure” career, the unemployment rate for veterans is three times higher than non-veterans.

Opponents of the JROTC program also cite ethnic profiling, arguing that the military targets students from minority and low-income areas. The Chicago Public School system is 49.8 percent African American and 38 percent Latino. Students coming from low-income families make up 85.2 percent of Chicago’s student population. JROTC director Mills is correct when he says the racial and socioeconomic status of those in Chicago’s JROTC program reflects the school system as a whole, but only five schools in all of the more affluent Chicago suburbs have JROTC programs.

Military recruiters are known for their flashy tactics: television ads, omnipresent brochures, recruiting ships, trucks and vans, and even a free Army video game kids can download off the Internet. Yet, the Army hasn’t met its recruitment goals in three months. The Marines haven’t met their quotas since January. Suspicious recruitment tactics are in the headlines and Army recruiters took off May 20 to retrain in the ethics and laws of recruitment.

Meanwhile, Mills insists the military does not look to JROTC groups for students to boost its numbers. “I get absolutely no pressure from any of the services,” he says. “None.”

Only 18 percent of graduating JROTC seniors are considering joining the service, says Mills. He does not have statistics on how many of the 71 percent that go on to post-secondary school stay with the ROTC program. Lavizzo’s Barnett also says that not all of his middle school students move on to JROTC programs in high school. Tarsha, however, has already signed up. While she wants to be a lawyer and is not planning on joining the armed forces when she graduates, the 14-year-old says, “If I were to join the military, I would be ready for it.”

Source: http://inthesetimes.com/article/2136/the_children_crusade

 

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