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Testimony at Toledo Board of Education

These are strong, very well articulated statements from parents trying to protect children.

Testimony of Peggy Daly-Masternak

Eighteen community groups stand with the Student and Family Rights and Privacy Committee to say: Schools are for learning, not for military recruitment.

More will join us. Endorsers now include education advocates, in the AAUW; civil rights leaders, like the NAACP; unionists in FLOC, and a diverse list of civic and social justice groups. The ACLU has consistently supported our efforts. The TFT has long-stood against school militarization, and as they soon consider our resolution, we look hopefully toward their endorsement.

Not here to point to problems without offering solutions, our comprehensive policies keep TPS in total compliance with the unfortunate forced militarization in federal laws. Our resolution protects students and families’ rights, required by those same federal laws.

Recruiters are only permitted “same access” to students as college and job recruiters. Everyone knows that means college or career night, where mom and dad are with their student to explore options together. Nothing in the law allows exclusive access for military recruitment.

Same access means none of these for the military: humvees at Rogers’ homecoming; junkets to Army boot camp to transform Scott’s staff into “Centers of Influence” and recruiters themselves; schmoozing teachers with lavish lunches in Bowsher’s cafeteria; or Start’s faculty providing assistance to capture hot leads with military entrance tests.

What other special interest group can do this to schools? Who is fact-checking sexy promises by quota-bound recruiters in school cafeterias? Any criminal background checks? Must faculty protect students here as well? Why are you not falling all over yourselves to validate the rights of students and families, teachers and staff, rather than resigning schools to military recruitment centers?

Despite the Defense Department staking a claim, the Toledo community owns the schools. You are here to administer our claim.

You’ve refused to directly, effectively inform families of privacy rights and relentless military in-school recruitment, yet took stunning measures to survey families on high school uniforms, sending out 9,000 letters. When the response was “ambivalent,” you took up an exhaustive telephone survey.

This board passed a weak recruitment policy last fall, with a January 1 deadline, merely saying principals should come up with some rules. The deadline is three months past. No rules have been created. No enforcement. If principals won’t create and you won’t enforce rules, who stands for students on these moral, legal and financial obligations?

The community is, telling you: Return schools to education, not military recruitment.

Testimony of Mary Anthony

Good evening. My name is Mary Anthony, and I am here to speak to you about recruiting in our schools and the effect it has on our children’s future. My stories are personal.

Last fall, as my daughter was in her vocational class, going about her normal day—the reason she is in school—five recruiters entered the classroom and proceeded to take class time to speak to the students about military careers. When my daughter informed me later that day, I called the school to speak to the counselor, who informed me that neither she nor the principal were aware of recruiters being there.

These are the activities that put our children in danger of misinformation and other potential risks. I WANT to be an active part of any discussion with my child regarding career choices. I am prevented from what is my parental rights when recruiters walk the buildings freely. I expect them to be there on college or career nights, when I am present. I can then help my child make balanced and informed decisions about their choices, also a primary right of parents.

Our children are being subject to endless recruitment strategies designed by the U.S. military to entice them to join their “family.” Students already have a family. Each branch is equally guilty in using these tactics. Endless promises of opportunity, free rides to college and job experience turn into empty promises for many who chose their path.

My son is one of those who chose that path. He joined the Navy in 2002. Four years later with still two years active duty ahead of him, he has spent time in Mississippi, the Middle East, Japan and most recently Guam. He already knows that after an upcoming stateside assignment, where he will need to rebuild his home and all that he lost in hurricane Katrina, he will be re-deployed to Iraq.

He is married with a child but sadly faces a divorce. Through all of this, he has struggled, not just with all the emotions, but financially because his military pay does not provide him the means to support his family and pay for all the unexpected challenges he has had to face. Our country should be ashamed. Many of these young people are living on food stamps or must receive help from their parents.

He personally knows 23 people from the Toledo area who joined the military, depending on the same things he was hoping for with his enlistment. There are other options to military life. But that information isn’t readily available to our youth and the military myth is presented in countless ways, especially in school buildings.

College and its financing, leaving home for the first time, becoming an adult— all present a labyrinth for young people. If counselors, teachers and trusted advisors cannot or will not give young, impressionable students assistance with these things, believe me, a recruiter will happily meet his quota with your child.

— Peggy Daly-Masternak and Mary Anthony
Testimony on Military Recruitment in the Schools


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