by Paula Hoffman
Aren’t shooting ranges on high school campuses in complete contradiction to the “zero weapons tolerance” rules? Is JROTC, in reality, a well-planned, back-door recruitment tool that targets vulnerable young people? Do parents and students have a clear understanding of what JROTC is all about? Are students being offered fair and equal educational support by school counselors, administrators and teachers? These are the issues being tackled by a coalition of parents, students, teachers and community organizations in San Diego, California.
The new Marine Corps JROTC program at Mission Bay High School opened in September. During the summer, Principal Cheryl Seelos and strongly pro-military board members pushed for its initiation. MBHS was one of the few schools in San Diego never to have had JROTC. Now, as hundreds of low-income Latino students are bused in daily, the military sees fresh opportunities to brainwash and recruit. Despite passionate speeches by many opponents of JROTC at two summer school board meetings, the final vote was four to one in favor of JROTC, with board member John de Beck casting the only nay vote. Subsequently, picketing and leafleting outside the school during class registration in August was the beginning of outreach efforts to inform students and parents of what was happening.
At the same time, the doors of the beautiful rebuilt Lincoln High School campus were about to open – and so were the doors of its JROTC program. Within the first few weeks of school, it was observed by UJIMA Institute for Civic Responsibility founder Mshinda Nyofu that Lincoln High was quickly building a new shooting range to go with its JROTC program. The absurdity was obvious. Why are we teaching students to shoot and carry arms on campus, even as we attempt to deal with the painful on-campus and off-campus violence affecting communities everywhere? UJIMA began raising questions about the issue in the community around Lincoln High.
[For the rest of this article, go here to DraftNOtices, Jan-March 08, from Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft.]