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MY TURN: Take military out of high schools

It's good news that a student is speaking out about a terrible policy--and that the newspaper is printing it. Note that this student is not fooled by the free t-shirt or the climbing wall. He knows a military mission when he sees one.

By Heron Russell

As a high school student, the issue of military involvement in high schools grows ever more pertinent and concerning. On a weekly bas

Even sports practices are not safe from the intrusion of recruiters who have come with climbing walls and T-shirts "just to have some fun." It is my feeling that the military has no place in institutions of education. It is detrimental to the learning environment and takes advantage of students as a captive audience.

Not only is the military present in our school, as a provision of No Child Left Behind, recruiters now have access to the contact information of every high school student throughout schools. I am fortunate in that my school has taken advantage of and publicized the "opt-out" provision in which students can request that their information be kept private from the military.

Unfortunately, some schools do not actively provide opportunities for students to opt out, and many students are not even aware that their records are being accessed. This seems an intolerable invasion of the privacy of students upon entering a school. When all other records are kept entirely private from all eyes except those of the students, their parents and their teachers, why should recruiters be able to take this information without the permission of the student? This law is unjust and in need of change in order to protect the privacy of students.

It is time to re-examine the permissiveness with which we allow the military into our schools. While colleges visit only once a year, the military comes on a weekly basis to recruit students. Why should the military have any advantage over other post-high-school options?

Regarding No Child Left Behind, this education law needs to be limited to only provisions regarding education. There is no place anywhere in educational law for the military. They are separate government institutions and need to be kept as such.

A school should be a place of learning and an environment in which all students can feel comfortable. A military presence takes away from this. A student should also feel secure about the privacy of his or her school records; by allowing the military access to students' contact information, this privacy is jeopardized. It is time to reconsider the military presence in our public schools.

Heron Russell of Richmond is a student at Mount Mansfield Union High School.

— Heron Russell
Burlington Free Press


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