The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY)
Dec. 11, 2022Updated Dec. 20, 2022 / Mike Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Ilana Marcus / New York Times - DETROIT — On her first day of high school, Andreya Thomas looked over her schedule and found that she was enrolled in a class with an unfamiliar name: J.R.O.T.C.
She and other freshmen at Pershing High School in Detroit soon learned that they had been placed into the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a program funded by the U.S. military designed to teach leadership skills, discipline and civic values — and open students’ eyes to the idea of a military career. In the class, students had to wear military uniforms and obey orders from an instructor who was often yelling, Ms. Thomas said, but when several of them pleaded to be allowed to drop the class, school administrators refused.
“They told us it was mandatory,” Ms. Thomas said.
J.R.O.T.C. programs, taught by military veterans at some 3,500 high schools across the country, are supposed to be elective, and the Pentagon has said that requiring students to take them goes against its guidelines. But The New York Times found that thousands of public school students were being funneled into the classes without ever having chosen them, either as an explicit requirement or by being automatically enrolled.
A review of J.R.O.T.C. enrollment data collected from more than 200 public records requests showed that dozens of schools have made the program mandatory or steered more than 75 percent of students in a single grade into the classes, including schools in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Mobile, Ala. A vast majority of the schools with those high enrollment numbers were attended by a large proportion of nonwhite students and those from low-income households, The Times found.
Dec. 20, 2022 / Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and / New York Times - CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Beneath the fluorescent lights of a high school gym, dozens of teenagers took turns firing air rifles at a series of bull's-eye targets, part of a marksmanship competition that drew students from schools all along the Florida Gulf Coast.
The event was better outfitted than many high school competitions, with lights that illuminated the targets, scopes for spotting downrange and a heavy curtain to keep pellets from going astray, thanks to the help of a key sponsor: the charitable arm of the National Rifle Association.
“A lot of the equipment that you see behind me comes from N.R.A. grants,” Bryan Williams, a retired Army major who teaches in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Mariner High School in Cape Coral, told the contestants.
That tip of the hat was no casual remark. In order to win N.R.A. sponsorships, records show, military instructors who lead J.R.O.T.C. marksmanship teams at public high schools have repeatedly promised to promote the organization at competitions and in newsletters, post N.R.A. banners at their schools or add the N.R.A. logo to apparel worn by students.
In his pitch, Mr. Williams also offered to provide student testimonials to the organization “to include supporting photographs and storyboards showcasing the equipment and the happy cadets.”
A majority of public school textbooks receive extensive professional and government vetting, undergoing revision, rejection and public debate. But the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, in courses taught at thousands of high schools around the country, uses textbooks that have bypassed those standard public reviews.
The J.R.O.T.C. curriculum materials cover a wide range of subjects, with lessons on financial literacy and public speaking, on healthy eating and first aid, on preparing for college and life in the military. Most of them offer a presentation similar to what might be found in any public high school study materials.
But a New York Times review of thousands of pages of the program’s textbooks found that some of the books also included outdated gender messages, a conservative shading of political issues and accounts of historical events that falsify or downplay the failings of the U.S. government.
Here is a closer look at 10 issues covered in the texts:
Assistant secretaries from the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Department of Defense, testified before a House national security subcommittee, whose members grilled them about procedures for vetting instructors and rooting out abuse in the program, known as J.R.O.T.C. Hundreds of thousands of high school students are enrolled in the program in 3,500 high schools across the country. One congresswoman has floated the idea of temporarily shutting the program down.
The hearing followed a New York Times investigation in July that found that 33 instructors had been criminally charged with sexual misconduct involving student victims over five years. The Pentagon’s higher number of substantiated allegations appeared to include additional instances in which the abuse or misconduct had not resulted in criminal charges. All 58 of those instructors had been decertified, the military officials reported, except for two who had killed themselves.
The military officials expressed their outrage at the abuse and said they had begun reviewing policies regarding J.R.O.T.C., which provides students with training in leadership, civic values, weapons handling and other skills.
Thomas A. Constable, the Defense Department’s acting assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, said the Pentagon expected to recommend a list of possible changes by the end of the year. He and the other military leaders said part of the problem was a lack of standardization across the branches in oversight, background investigations and coordination with school districts over how the programs are run.
Credit...Mary F. Calvert for The New York Times
Emil Lundedal Hammar / UiT-The Arctic University of Norway - The videogame industry is emblematic of what John Smith (2016) terms 21st century imperialism, where rich countries and multinational companies profit from ‘super-exploitation’ (Smith 2018) of the so-called Global South via global production chains. These relations of production result in repeated crises that in turn exacerbate violent, reactionary movements usually found in fascist tidings stemming from the inherent crises in capitalism (Traverso 2019; Jong 2020).
Like other mass-cultural forms, videogames are produced within and are enabled by a historical and material global network reliant on global capitalism (Dyer-Witheford and De Peuter 2009; Kirkpatrick 2013: 108). This is achieved via postcolonial access to slave labour extracting conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Sinclair 2015, 2016, 2017; Valentine 2018); the super-exploitation of countries like China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia (Fuchs 2017, Qiu 2017); the free-trade regulations of the centres of economic power; the precarious working conditions of software developers in North America (Consalvo 2008, O’Donnell 2014, Williams 2013) and in cheaply outsourced countries like Malaysia and Vietnam (Flecker 2016, Thomsen 2018); the exploitation of passion via ‘playbour’ by multibillion-dollar software companies (Dyer- Witheford and De Peuter 2009; Bulut 2020); the dominance of white heterosexual masculinity in game studios and the industry writ large (Srauy 2019; Johnson.
Military recruiters count on economic hardship to lure young people of color to sign up. Counter-recruiters are working hard to thwart their efforts.
Sep 6, 2022 / Aina Marzia / YES! Media - Year after year, the same foldable table is propped up near the entrance of a high school gym. People with the same uniform but different faces, all eager to tell you about a new “opportunity,” will sit idly at the table. There will be a sign in front of the table and a clipboard on top, ready to jot down any name that will take the bait being offered.
The U.S.’s “all-volunteer military” requires people, and the search for young high schoolers to fill the ranks of the armed forces is always ongoing. Further, the military tends to prioritize recruiting low-income minority kids because, as per Anthony Clark, a U.S. Air Force veteran, “Poverty is the draft.”
Racial and Socioeconomic Discrepancies in Enlistment
From embedding militarism into public schools to setting up shop inside schools, the military will seemingly go to any lengths necessary to get more boots on the ground. Programs like Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), while not directly affiliated with recruiters, attract large enlistments from high schoolers and are introduced to students as early as freshman year. In a report by RAND Corporation in 2017, it is estimated that more than 500,000 students are enrolled in Army training programs. Further, 56% of schools with such programs offered federal reduced or free lunch options, suggesting that they serve students near or below the poverty line.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, around 64% of enlistments are of people from household incomes below $87,000, and 19% are from household incomes below $41,691. Although the CFR classifies such people as “middle income,” many social scientists point out the increasing financial precarity of the American middle class, such as Alissa Quart’s 2018 book Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America. Such research highlights how the middle class is shrinking, making income data unreliable when assessing economic hardship. While there is a common belief that the armed forces are an “all-volunteer military,” the data suggests that low-income students often view the military as an economic opportunity.
Military recruiters often target low-income youth. Will Biden’s student loan relief plan mean vulnerable youth no longer have to choose between debt and military service?
September 28, 2022 / Frances Nguyen / Next City - Earlier this month, 19 House Republicans, led by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), sent a letter to President Biden to raise concerns over the “unintended consequences” that his student loan relief plan would have on the military’s recruitment efforts: “By forgiving such a wide swath of loan borrowers,” the letter read, “you are removing any leverage the Department of Defense maintained as one of the fastest and easiest ways to pay for higher education.”
The plan would forgive up to $10,000 for borrowers of federal student loans who make less than $125,000 per year, and up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants, a financial award for students from families with incomes below $60,000 annually. Under the plan, about 20 million borrowers could have their balances eliminated.
Indeed, one of the many reasons young recruits join the U.S. Armed Forces is to finance their education, particularly among low-income and recruits of color. A 2015 survey from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University found that 53% of veterans were motivated into military service for educational benefits. The relief plan would undoubtedly impact that side of the sales pitch for military recruitment, but how deeply will it undermine recruiting efforts – and is the crisis of recruitment actually a crisis?
Several counter-recruiters say it’s too soon to know the impact of Biden’s student debt relief plan on their work, in part because they anticipate legal challenges blocking the relief and because the plan doesn’t impact new or future borrowers. But ultimately, they say, the success of recruitment depends on another factor.
“The single biggest predictor of military recruitment is the economy,” Elizabeth Frank, who has been involved in counter-recruitment in Chicago public schools since 2004, says, pointing to what student debt cancellation advocates argue will ultimately be a boost to the economy.
“When the economy is good, recruitment suffers,” says Frank.