While most attention is focussed on the races for national and
state offices that will be decided by voters this November, some
of the most significant decisions will actually be made at a much
more local level in school board elections — particularly in San
When it comes to factors determining the political and social
climate of this country, the most basic factor of all is the way
that young citizens are socialized into accepting or rejecting
the status quo. And the most intense part of that socialization
occurs in the school system, where young people learn values and
lessons that will affect their attitudes and behavior far into
The military knows this, which is exactly why they target our
schools. The Pentagon is not just looking for a few qualified
enlistees — it is pushing its way into K-12 schools on a massive
scale in order to influence the political and social climate in
this country. As a result, the prospects for progressive social
change could be diminished for many years to come.
In San Diego, as in some other communities, there has been a
strong effort to limit the activities of the armed forces in our
public schools. Complaints over aggressive recruiters and violations
of family privacy led the San Diego Unified School District to
stop releasing student directory lists (names, addresses, phone
numbers, etc.) to recruiters in 1993. With San Diego having a
reputation for being one of the most militarized places in the
U.S., and the city being the 6th largest in the country, this
was a major setback for the armed forces. While there have been
a few other setbacks for recruiters in San Diego over the last
decade, none have been as significant as the loss of access to
The main barrier keeping the military from regaining the ground
it lost is the San Diego City School Board. A slim majority has,
until now, resisted intense pressure from the Pentagon, local
recruiters, the County Grand Jury, the Greater Chamber of Commerce,
veterans organizations and conservative politicians who are demanding
that the ban on recruiter access to student lists be withdrawn.
School Superintendent Alan Bersin has sided with the military
and is aggressively trying to make the district more cooperative
The November 7 election could decide the issue. School trustee
Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, a critic of the superintendent and
strong supporter of preserving the present policy on student lists,
is being challenged for her school board seat by Julie Dubick.
Dubick, a corporate lawyer, is a personal friend of the superintendent
and is being supported with major funds from the business community
(the Chamber of Commerce was prevented from giving official endorsements).
Two other trustees are up for reelection, Ron Ottinger and Ed
López. Ottinger has been trying to work out a deal to give the
military at least partial access to lists and has been a strong
supporter of the military’s JROTC program. López has been fairly
silent on the issue of the military in local schools, but has
frequently sided with Ottinger on key issues and declined to respond
to a survey that asked for his position on student lists. The
opponents of Ottinger and López — Tonja McCoy and Augie Castille,
respectively — did respond to the survey and indicated their support
for keeping the lists private.
In the general November election, San Diego registered voters
will be able to cast ballots for all three school board seats.
At a minimum, a victory for Zimmerman is crucial to protecting
San Diego students and schools from the military’s assault on
individual privacy and the principle of civilian rule.
For more information on the candidate survey, contact Project
YANO, 760-634-3604, or email ProjYANO@aol.com.
For information about Zimmerman, contact Frances Zimmerman for
School Board District A, 7209 Monte Vista Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037,
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).