The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY)
The War on Terror and the Battle for Young Minds
February 23, 2023 / Andrea Mazzarino / Tomdispatch - During a Veterans Day celebration in my small Maryland community, a teacher clicked through a slideshow of smiling men and women in military uniforms. “Girls and boys, can anyone tell me what courage is?” she asked the crowd, mostly children from local elementary schools, including my two young kids.
A boy raised his hand. “Not being scared?” he asked.
The teacher seized on his response: “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Not being scared.” She proceeded to discuss this country’s armed forces, highlighting how brave U.S. troops are because they fight to defend our way of life. Servicemembers and veterans in the crowd were encouraged to stand. My own children beamed, knowing that their father is just such a military officer. The veterans and troops present did indeed stand, but most of them stared at the ground. As a counselor who works with children, including those from local military families, I marveled that the teacher was asking the young audience to dismiss one of the most vulnerable emotions there is — fear — in the service of armed violence.
No mention was made of what war can do to those fighting it, not to speak of civilians caught in the crossfire, and how much money has left our country’s shores thanks to armed conflict. That’s especially true, given the scores of U.S.-led military operations still playing out globally as the Pentagon arms and trains local troops, runs intelligence operations, and conducts military exercises.
That week, my children and others in schools across the county spent hours in their classrooms celebrating Veterans Day through a range of activities meant to honor our armed forces. My kindergartener typically made a paper crown, with six colorful peaks for the six branches of service, that framed her little face. Kids in older grades wrote letters to soldiers thanking them for their service.
A recent string of revelations about abuses by the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps presents an opportunity to rein in the military’s presence and power in public schools.
01.08.2023 / Seth Kershner Scott Harding / Jacobin - The Pentagon’s signature program for instilling military values in American schools, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), has a long history dating to 1916. But it hasn’t endured such bad press since the 1970s. In several damning articles, the New York Times revealed the structure of what’s wrong with high school military training: instructors who use their positions to prey on teenage girls, in-school shooting ranges built with grants from the National Rifle Association, and mandatory enrollment in some of the nation’s largest school districts — all abetted by school officials who fail to adequately monitor a program of such dubious educational value that many instructors lack a college degree.
These revelations have vindicated those in the “counter-recruitment” movement who for years warned of a largely unsupervised program taught by retired military officers. It also raises serious questions about why military training programs have any place in US public high schools.
The Pentagon spends around $400 million annually to provide training in military drill and “leadership” through the JROTC in more than 3,500 high schools, to approximately five hundred thousand students. Despite this presence, the program seems to operate on the fringes, with school officials exercising scant oversight even as instructors take their young “cadets” on extended travel to military bases and interschool competitions. Such conditions foster an environment rife with potential abuse.
The Times identified at least thirty-three JROTC instructors who had been criminally charged with sexual misconduct with their students, and found evidence that numerous other instructors were accused but never charged. According to the education outlet Chalkbeat, Chicago’s head of school military instruction quietly resigned last summer, three years after failing to inform officials of suspected sexual abuse by a JROTC instructor who was later arrested.
In high schools across the country, students are being placed in military classes without electing them on their own. “The only word I can think of is ‘indoctrination,’” one parent said.
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.
Instructors in military-sponsored J.R.O.T.C. classes have offered to promote the N.R.A. in high schools in exchange for money for their marksmanship programs.
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.”
Descriptions of civic life and some key historical events differ from the way they are taught in typical public school textbooks.
Dec. 11, 2022 / Mike Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Dana Goldstein / New York Times - One textbook for high school military cadets says girls should wear lipstick when in uniform. Another offers what a history professor described as a “frightening” interpretation of how the Vietnam War was lost. Another blames the death of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana frontman who fatally shot himself in 1994, on heroin addiction.
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:
Lawmakers criticized oversight by the military, which reported dozens of additional cases of abuse of high school students by J.R.O.T.C. instructors.
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.
Subscribe to NNOMY Newsletter
NNOMYnews reports on the growing intrusions by the Department of Defense into our public schools in a campaign to normalize perpetual wars with our youth and to promote the recruitment efforts of the Pentagon.
Donate to NNOMY
Your donation to NNOMY works to balance the military's message in our public schools. Our national network of activists go into schools and inform youth considering military service the risks about military service that recruiters leave out.