Thursday, August 7, 2014

Military Recruiters Enjoy Unprecedented Access To Students

During the Iraq War years, pressure from students, parents and counter-recruitment activists forced a number of local school boards across the country to establish guidelines regulating military recruiter access to youth. Such policies are now in place in some of the biggest school districts in the country, including New York, Los Angeles and Fort Worth. In some cases, military recruiters are limited to two visits per year for each branch of the military. In others, they are not allowed to wander the school grounds unsupervised and have to be at their literature tables at all times. While policies vary from region to region, the idea is the same: to make sure recruiters do not overwhelm students with high-pressure sales techniques.
But since the end of the Iraq War, less attention has been paid to the issue. In the absence of public scrutiny, military recruiters have in recent years been using a variety of means to circumvent existing school recruiting policies. They volunteer at schools as coaches or teachers, and bend the rules to achieve “total access” to the schools in their recruiting zones. As a result, military recruiters are evading oversight despite warnings about unchecked recruiter access to youth from the American Public Health AssociationNew York Civil Liberties Union, and other advocacy groups.
When Johnny’s Gym Teacher is Also the Marine Recruiter
The high school in tiny Gaston, Ore., (pop. 600) has a policy governing the behavior of recruiters from the military, higher education, or employers. The policy, known as an “administrative rule on recruiters,” also permits parents and community members to “observe recruiting events,” which is how Helvi Smith, a local activist whose son attends Gaston High, found herself back in school this May.

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