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NCLB Outrages

Did you know NCLB has the National Guard teamed up with NASCAR to deliver health curriculum to 6th graders?

Ohanian Comment: For me, Robin Brooks' letter to the editor of the Times Record, Maine's largest daily newspaper, is much more than "just" a letter to the editor. It sent me on a search for how the National Guard got involved in delivering health class instruction.

There are numerous stories like this one in the Martinsville Bulletin. Note the claim that this program is science-based.

National Guard helps students 'Stay on Track'

Students at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School tour a Blackhawk helicopter on the school grounds on Thursday. It was there to get students' attention for the "Stay on Track" drug use prevention program being sponsored by the National Guard Bureau.

Friday, October 20, 2006

By Kathrin Klenshteyn

With a Blackhawk helicopter, Humvees and a race car on school grounds, it is not hard to get students' attention.

Stay on Track is a 12-lesson program that combines drug use prevention with the appeal of motorsports to combat peer pressure in middle schools, said Sgt. Kenneth Muse, who teaches the program at Fieldale-Collinsville and Laurel Park middle schools. Sixth-grader Tyler Byrd, son of Charles and Sarah Byrd, said the program "gives you courage to say 'no.'" And once the National Guard officers had the Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School students' attention Thursday, they launched an anti-drug program called "Stay on Track." The kickoff at the middle school was the first in Virginia, said Chief Warrant Officer Thomas French, one of the program's organizers, because that school was the first to work out scheduling and other details. The program is sponsored by the National Guard Bureau, based in Washington, D.C. After speaking to students in the school's gym, the officers led the students outside to have pictures taken in front the National Guard race car, some Army Humvee vehicles and the highlight of the day, a Blackhawk helicopter. Cup or Busch car? what number? "Cool," "awesome" and "interesting" were some of the adjectives students used over and over again when asked what they thought of the program and its kickoff. Stay on Track is tied to motorsports because just as a car must be kept in good condition to run well, so must a body be taken care of to stay in good health, Muse said. "It takes a team to win a race," he said. The pit crew, crew chief and driver must communicate effectively. In the "Stay on Track" program, students are compared to drivers. Muse is the crew chief, and the physical education teachers who participate in the program are the spotters who tell the driver where he or she is on the track in relation to other cars. That is why parents have an important role in "Stay on Track," said French. According to Muse, the program's homework requires students to talk to their parents to answer some of the questions, opening a line of communication. French said this communication is positive, as opposed to the commonly negative communication that happens after a parent notices his or her child might be using drugs or alcohol. "It gives the parent the opportunity to talk to their children about difficult decisions," such as giving in to peer pressure to take drugs, he said. In addition, the program focuses on effective strategies for teamwork, keeping the body healthy, learning to cope with stressful situations, being able to make split-second decisions and setting and achieving goals, National Guard literature states. Speaking to the crowd of students in the school's gym, Muse said there are two kinds of pressure: positive and negative. The people in the students' lives that give them positive pressure, such as to complete their homework, do so because "they want you to succeed," he said. "They know how hard life is outside of these walls," he said. "Freedom isn't free. We believe that all of you are the future." He also told the students if they could handle the positive stress in their lives, they also can handle the negative, such as peer pressure to make poor decisions. Sixth-grade English and social studies teacher Kathy Thacker said that if one student was encouraged to stay off drugs, the program was effective. "Anything to motivate any of these students is worthwhile," she said. French said the program aims to give students the self-confidence they need not to give in to peer pressure. He said instructors tell students that peers who would pressure them to make certain decisions are "not who you want to fit in with." Lt. Col. Colleen Chipper, Virginia National Guard counter-drug coordinator, said 11 states in the country are participating in the pilot program, which is set to be fully functional next year.

National anti-drug and research programs honor Summit Racing Company helps National Guard, NCPRS target youth to Stay on Track

By Air Guard Tech. Sgt. Cheryl Hackley
National Guard Bureau

TALLMADGE, Ohio (6/19/2007): The National Guard Counterdrug Program and the National Center for Prevention and Research Solutions jointly honored Summit Racing Equipment June 16, 2007 during their annual Super Summit XV event. Together, the partners presented a plaque to Ray Tatko, president, Summit Racing Equipment, here at the company's headquarters.

"This award is dedicated to Summit for their 'tire'less efforts to help the youth in their community," said Air Guard Capt. John Glasgow who presented the award on the behalf of the Ohio National Guard Counterdrug Program.

Just last school year the National Guard and NCPRS teamed up to present Stay on Track, a positive educational curriculum, to 11 pilot states across the country. However, Summit Racing has supported NCPRS since 1989. Most recently, the national racing equipment company donated $5,000 to NCPRS to fund the educational materials for Stay on Track for approximately 1,000 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in neighboring communities.

Stay on Track is a program that lasts 12 weeks throughout all three grade levels of middle school to help children make better choices in life. The course is a science based-measurable program designed around motorsports as developed by Ron Steger, chief executive officer, NCPRS.

"I started racing when I was 14; all I needed to hear was the sound of an engine and I headed right toward it," said Steger. "As I got older, I imagined that a lot of other children had an interest in cars like I did."

Ohio National Guard will instruct the program for the first time to schools across the state in the upcoming school year. The state was not one of the pilot states for the program, but it is part of the expansion in the 2007-2008 year.

Over the years, Steger has honed the Stay on Track program and NCPRS designs the materials for the program around its partners. In the case of the National Guard, all new materials taught by National Guardsmen will highlight Casey Mears, driver of the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevy Monte Carlo.

Throughout the courses, the sixth, seventh and eighth graders are taught to stay off drugs and stay on track by ignoring peer pressure and setting and achieving their goals. Students are encouraged to follow the RACER model of decision making:

* Realize the need for a decision
* Analyze the possible decision
* Consider risks and rewards
* Execute the decision
* Re-evaluate the decision

Steger wanted to reach children in a positive manner and he's been able to do so successfully through the Stay on Track program. He traveled to the event along with a cut away race car that will soon be painted and decaled like the No. 25 National Guard Chevrolet.

"This car is an educational tool that enables us to talk to adults and kids alike," he explained. "First you teach them things about why a race car broke down or how it operates and then later you slip in more subliminal messages like following your dreams and staying off drugs."

While Stay on Track has been a lifelong achievement for Steger, this is a new beginning for the National Guard. The unique program is one of the initiatives of the Guard's Drug Demand Reduction Program that targets youth. In 2005, the National Guard Counterdrug Program underwent a major transformation that resulted in DDR playing a more central role in the program's overall efforts. This donation from Summit Racing will allow NCPRS to provide materials for about a thousand more students that the Guard will reach with their positive messages.

As the partnership with NCPRS and the National Guard strengthens, awareness increases and funding becomes available, the National Guard hopes to implement Stay on Track in all 54 states and territories.

"We simply cannot win the fight against drugs alone and support from the community is necessary to secure our future and protecting our children," said Air Guard Col. William Carle, chief, National Guard Counterdrug Programs. "It's amazing to see such willing support from an organization like Summit Racing. That money will make a difference for the state of Ohio and this nation."

Kudos to Robin Brooks for alerting the public about this military encroachment on our youth.

by Robin Brooks

To the editor:

Concerning the military presence in Mt. Ararat Middle School

Parents who read the Mt. Ararat Middle School newsletter from cover to cover will be aware that students in grades six, seven, and eight will be receiving instruction from uniformed National Guard soldiers during health class starting in January. It is no mystery to me why uniformed soldiers are showing up in our children�s classrooms. Lacking a national draft, the military has become creative about gaining access our young people. Regardless of your feelings about military service, I feel that middle school is no time for undue influence from any source, whether it is the military, a particular religious group, or any other interest group. Our children�s souls should not be so cheap.

The MSAD 75 School Board approved this program to replace Camp Kieve, a local nature-based program that promotes team-building for incoming grade six students. They determined this program was too expensive and the National Guard's program is being offered "free"to Maine schools. That is, funding for Stay on Track comes from the Pentagon's budget, not local tax dollars.

The National Guard soldiers will be teaching our children to "Stay on Track," (the title of the curriculum) and "just say no" to drugs and alcohol. All this will be presented in slick NASCAR race car imagery with a good dose of military hardware thrown in. Maybe you also find it ironic that NASCAR's biggest advertiser is Annheiser Busch and cigarette advertising also feature prominently in race car hype.

I am a parent of a ten-year old child and a certified teacher, so my feelings about uniformed soldiers teaching our eleven, twelve, and thirteen-year-old children run strong. Maybe you don't have a child in school but feel like me that soldiers have no place teaching our children. In no way do I mean to disparage this or any other branch of our military. They are brave, honorable young men and women willing to put their lives on the line for our country. This said, however, they are not trained, certified and background-checked teachers; they are soldiers. The Maine Department of Education is aware that some parents may be so offended by this program that they might wish to "opt out" their child which is every parent's legal right.

Whether or not you have children or grandchildren attending Mt. Ararat Middle School, I strongly urge you to call the administrators and School Board members of MSAD 75 (www.link75.org) and communicate your concerns about "Stay on Track." I am currently volunteering with the administration to support their efforts to provide an "opt out" alternative for children whose parents decide they don't want them to participate in "Stay on Track."

Finally, if you are wondering why this is happening, look no farther than "No Child Left Behind," the deceptively titled Federal education act that has been slowly but surely destroying our public schools with its strict regimen of testing, punitive sanctions, and the resultant loss of local control.

Even though the "Stay on Track" program claims to be free, everything has its costs. The cost to our children will be exposure to a program that glamorizes the military at a very vulnerable time when they are forming their identities and future aspirations. Please contact me if you would like more information at benjamin@gwi.net.


— Robin Brooks
Times Record


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