[Editor's Note: Oct. 13, 2004. During tonight's debate with
John Kerry, I once again heard the president speak about the 'No Child Left
Behind' act as if it were some sort of glorious educational aid program
designed to help kids, their parents, and schools, but in fact, it's a deceptive
piece of legislation designed for the federal government to obtain the name
and address of every school child in this country in order to ensure that
they can be tracked down and drafted into the military! Parents and school
boards who care about their children need to stoutly and vigorously REFUSE
to cooperate with the federal traitors and keep your student body information
in YOUR hands and out of the government's hands. The government has threatened
to withhold federal money, but your school needs to tell the feds, "Fine.
we'll do without your money!". The Pentagon will also make threats,
but they won't follow through, trust me. It's time for parents (and schools)
to stand up for your children and tell the Pentagon to go jump in the lake.
And kick military recruiters off your campus while your at it..Ken]
By David Goodman
the military be given the names of every high school student in America?
Sharon Shea-Keneally, principal of Mount Anthony Union High
School in Bennington, Vermont, was shocked when she received a letter in
May from military recruiters demanding a list of all her students, including
names, addresses, and phone numbers. The school invites recruiters to participate
in career days and job fairs, but like most school districts, it keeps student
information strictly confidential. "We don't give out a list of names
of our kids to anybody," says Shea-Keneally, "not to colleges,
churches, employers -- nobody."
But when Shea-Keneally insisted on an explanation, she was
in for an even bigger surprise: The recruiters cited the No Child Left Behind
Act, President Bush's sweeping new education law passed earlier this year.
There, buried deep within the law's 670 pages, is a provision requiring
public secondary schools to provide military recruiters not only with access
to facilities, but also with contact information for every student -- or
face a cutoff of all federal aid.
"I was very surprised the requirement was attached to
an education law," says Shea-Keneally. "I did not see the link."
The military complained this year that up to 15 percent of
the nation's high schools are "problem schools" for recruiters.
In 1999, the Pentagon says, recruiters were denied access to schools on
19,228 occasions. Rep. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana who sponsored
the new recruitment requirement, says such schools "demonstrated an
anti-military attitude that I thought was offensive."
To many educators, however, requiring the release of personal
information intrudes on the rights of students. "We feel it is a clear
departure from the letter and the spirit of the current student privacy
laws," says Bruce Hunter, chief lobbyist for the American Association
of School Administrators. Until now, schools could share student information
only with other educational institutions. "Now other people will want
our lists," says Hunter. "It's a slippery slope. I don't want
student directories sent to Verizon either, just because they claim that
all kids need a cell phone to be safe."
The new law does give students the right to withhold their
records. But school officials are given wide leeway in how to implement
the law, and some are simply handing over student directories to recruiters
without informing anyone -- leaving students without any say in the matter.
"I think the privacy implications of this law are profound,"
says Jill Wynns, president of the San Francisco Board of Education. "For
the federal government to ignore or discount the concerns of the privacy
rights of millions of high school students is not a good thing, and it's
something we should be concerned about."
Educators point out that the armed services have exceeded
their recruitment goals for the past two years in a row, even without access
to every school. The new law, they say, undercuts the authority of some
local school districts, including San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, that
have barred recruiters from schools on the grounds that the military discriminates
against gays and lesbians. Officials in both cities now say they will grant
recruiters access to their schools and to student information -- but they
also plan to inform students of their right to withhold their records.
Some students are already choosing that option. According
to Principal Shea-Keneally, 200 students at her school -- one-sixth of the
student body -- have asked that their records be withheld.
Recruiters are up-front about their plans to use school lists
to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls, and personal
visits -- even if parents object. "The only thing that will get us
to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says
Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern
New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."
What do you think?
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