On Feb. 10, Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Republican House member from San Diego's conservative East County, introduced HR 637, the Fairness for Military Recruiters Act. If passed, the proposal would make it impossible for students under the age of 18 to opt themselves out when high schools release student contact information to military recruiters. Parents or legal guardians would have to do the opting out until a student has reached age 18. The bill also seeks to clarify that policies which make such releases contingent on a person opting in are not permitted.
In a press release explaining the bill, Hunter criticizes the successful campaign to pass a restrictive policy on recruiting in the San Diego Unified School District (see Paradigm Shift). Hunter says, “[W]e cannot allow this decision to serve as a trigger for additional efforts to even further restrict military recruiters in San Diego schools.” He further states:
Although current law, enacted under the No Child Left Behind Act, provides parents and students the right to request that contact information be withheld, some school boards and anti-military activists have attempted to limit and creatively interpret the provision to deny military recruiter access.
The No Child Left Behind Act eroded the ability of secondary schools to control military recruiting by stipulating that military recruiters must be given the “same” access to students as representatives of colleges and employers. Faced with this attack on their autonomy, some school districts have adopted guidelines for balanced access that have resulted in a net reduction in military recruiting. Such across-the-board guidelines have been adopted by, among others, the nation’s three largest districts: Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. San Diego’s new policy builds upon these and others.
Hunter’s proposed law only addresses when students opt out of lists given to the military and would have little effect on balanced recruiting policies like the one adopted in San Diego. The danger, however, is that the bill may be a step in the direction of forcing schools to grant the military greater school access than is enjoyed by representatives of colleges and civilian employers, thereby removing all pretense of fairness and concern for students. As the Army's School Recruiting Program Handbook states: "School ownership is the goal."
HR 637 has 10 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Education and the Workforce. No hearings were scheduled as of this writing (April 2,2011).
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/)