At the March 3d Board of Education meeting Truth and Alternatives to Militarism in Education (TAME) presented a detailed proposal for regulating military recruiting in Madison schools. Proposed policy changes developed by staff and the Board will be on the agenda at the Board’s March 24 workshop meeting (no public testimony). I hope that TAME’s ideas are given serious consideration.
TAME is a small group of citizens working hard to educate school boards, students, and parents about the excessive recruiting measures to sustain the all-voluntary armed forces. Because the Madison School administration has been letting slide enforcement of the current Board of Education policy regarding military recruiters in Madison’s schools, and because the Madison School Board chose to allow the military to advertise on scoreboards in the gymnasiums and football fields, also a violation of the policy, T.A.M.E. became more publicly active in the last 4 months to stop this abuse and misuse of power. In discussions with School Board members and administrators, it became clear that the Board and administration was looking for more suggestions regarding this issue. Thus, T.A.M.E. developed this list of suggestions, and presented them at the B.O.E. General meeting on March 3, 2008.
No Child Left Behind requires that military recruiters be given the same access to students as recruiters for all other post-secondary opportunities (colleges, trade schools, employers, internships…) enjoy. The penalty for non-compliance is loss of federal funding. As far as I can tell from the earlier Board discussions, TAME and the district share a goal of making sure that students are not targeted by continuous high and low pressure pitches by military recruiters, while assuring that all representatives of post-secondary opportunities have the access they need to help students make informed decisions. The problems come in with drafting and enforcing a policy in a manner that reasonably limits the military but doesn’t penalize a representative of MIT or MATC from saying hello to a student while grabbing a pop in the cafeteria. The reality is that military recruiters are hanging around the cafeterias looking for those opportunities and this has to stop.
In 2008 the military budgeted $19,210 for each recruit! That’s why they can pay people to hang around cafeterias. The reason they have to spend that much is that most potential recruits are smart enough to realize that joining the military carries dangers and restricts freedoms in ways that other options don’t.
The military has a place in our society (I pray for the day when it isn’t needed) and can be a good choice for some young people. Nothing in TAME’s proposal hinders those students interested in the military from learning more, from finding out if it is a good choice for them. TAME just wants to make sure that they have an equal opportunity to learn about options that don’t have over $19,000 to spend targeting them (imagine if the Peace Corps had that budget). Read the TAME proposal and weigh in with the Board prior to their March 24 meeting.
Thomas J. Mertz