Junior Reserve Officers Training program is the Pentagon's most
effective tool for both military recruitment and youth indoctrination.
Besides producing a very high rate of enlistment among student participants,
JROTC substitutes militarism for civilian education and seeks to
affect young people's views on a wide range of social and political
The Pentagon and Congress are pushing to expand this indoctrination
program and there are now 716 high schools waiting to receive
new JROTC units. A list of the schools has been compiled by the
Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors and is being posted
at the Web site of AWOL, an anti-militarist youth zine (http://awol.objector.org/jrotc.html).
Two high schools are targeted for new JROTC units in COMDs
home area of San Diego: Patrick Henry High School is on the waiting
list for a Navy JROTC unit and Will Crawford High School is waiting
for an Army JROTC unit.
COMD and other local groups are waging a letter-writing campaign
to convince the principals at these schools to withdraw their
JROTC applications. Letters are also being directed to the San
Diego school board, which must approve new JROTC contracts. Ten
of San Diego Citys 15 high schools already have JROTC. It
is believed that at least two members of the five-person school
board would be reluctant to add more JROTC units in San Diego.
The last two times board members cast votes on the issue, JROTC
prevailed by only a one-vote margin. Two new members have joined
the board since then.
Patrick Henry, which is in the Del Cerro/SDSU area, has had an
application in for Navy JROTC for several years. One teacher,
who opposes the program, says that the school is signing students
up for it and preparing to modify the necessary buildings in anticipation
that JROTC will begin in September of 2001.
Will Crawford, located south of SDSU and in the Chollas Park
area, has a new principal who was not at the school when the application
was submitted to the Army. It is hoped that she will be persuaded
to withdraw her school from the waiting list.
Anyone who would like to be notified if school board hearings
are scheduled should contact COMD. In the meantime, San Diego
residents, especially students, parents and military veterans,
are urged to write to the schools and the school board. Write
SDUSD Board of Trustees
4100 Normal St., San Diego, CA 92103
Maria Theodore, Principal
Patrick Henry High School
6702 Wandermere Dr., San Diego, CA 92120
Mary Jo Asbury, Principal
Crawford High School
4191 Colts Way, San Diego, CA 92115
Below is a summary of some points you might make in your letters:
1. Through JROTC, the Pentagon drains money from our schools.
The class is normally taken by students as a substitute for physical
education, but unlike PE, JROTC requires classroom space and TWO
teachers for only 100-150 students. The federal government pays
for less than half of JROTC teacher salaries, while the remaining
cost, plus ALL of the taxes and benefits for TWO teachers, comes
out of the local school's own budget. A survey by the American
Friends Service Committee found that the average cost for a JROTC
instructor team to a host school was $76,000 in 1998-99, more
than twice what the military estimated. And each school must also
provide the necessary facilities (e.g., a classroom, office, firing
range, weapons room, supply room and drill area) and any required
2. There is no evidence that JROTC helps keep students in school,
as some of its proponents have claimed. The dropout statistics
cited by the JROTC program have been incomplete and offer no valid
evidence that the program reduces the number of dropouts. It can
also be argued that other programs, like music, athletics and
counseling services, reach a greater number of students and are
more deserving of support for their value in motivating students
to stay in school.
3. JROTC falls short of the educational standards we expect from
our schools. Curriculum materials are created by the Pentagon,
and the local school district has no control over textbook content.
A committee appointed by San Diego Unified to review Air Force
JROTC textbooks in 1994 found that the books contained numerous
inaccuracies and distortions. Very few JROTC teachers have education
degrees. In fact, the JROTC credential doesn't require a college
degree or even passage of the California Basic Educational Skills
Test (which is required of other teachers).
4. JROTC can limit students' chances of getting into college.
JROTC is not an "academic" subject and is not counted
towards entrance requirements for University of California and
California State University schools. Students can hurt their chances
of college acceptance by taking JROTC instead of academic electives.
JROTC grades are even excluded when computing grade point average
for student aid eligibility in California.
5. JROTC is military training and does not belong in our educational
system. Our schools should uphold democratic values and the principle
of civilian rule. Instead of teaching these values and critical
thinking skills, JROTC emphasizes military values and teaches
students to give and obey orders unquestioningly.
6. JROTC propagandizes students. Reviews of JROTC materials have
revealed that they present students with a one-sided, partisan
view of political and historical events. Schools have a responsibility
to refrain from giving support to one side in such controversies.
7. By supporting JROTC, our schools support discrimination. People
of color in the military experience discrimination in promotions
and job assignments, and the military officially discriminates
based on gender and sexual orientation. Because people who are
openly gay are not allowed to be in the military, and because
JROTC only employs retired officers as teachers, JROTC itself
is guilty of employment discrimination and violates the anti-discrimination
policy of the San Diego Unified School District.
8. JROTC teaches the wrong lessons about how to solve conflict.
With today's problem of gangs and teen violence, our schools should
be teaching students how to solve conflicts nonviolently. JROTC
conditions students to accept violent solutions and, in many schools,
teaches them how to use guns through marksmanship training.
For more general information about JROTC, contact:
AFSC Youth & Militarism Program, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia,
PA 19102; www.afsc.org/youthmil.htm
CCCO, 630 20th St., #302, Oakland, CA 94612; www.objector.org/
Anti-ROTC Resource Page, www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/2906/
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).