Thursday, June 16, 2005

Selling death to our youth

Lovely information of the day. Did you know that there's an Army publication called the "School Recruiting Program Handbook"? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The Army is a business. It doesn't make money, it takes lives. And the only way to get lives, without a draft, is to recruit them. But how they recruit them is stomach-turning.

Recruiters are recommended to start recruiting at younger ages. "If you wait until they're seniors, it's probably too late . . . .First to contact, first to contract." Well, that makes me feel good. Start when teenagers have less of their frontal lobes developed so that they are more inclined to exercise risky behavior, like joining the Armed Forces.

Schools are expected to assist in this recruiting. "It is reasonable for the armed forces' recruiters to expect school officials to: . . . Assist in developing awareness of career and educational opportunities offered by the armed services." Not only is my government going after kids, trying to convince them to engage in war, but I'm to expect this of teachers and principals whom I trust to nurture and educate my child?

To achieve this, staff bribery is strongly recommended. ". . . have something to give them (pen, calendar, cup, donuts, etc), and always remember secretary's week with a card or flowers." And "Deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month. This will help in scheduling classroom presentations and advise teachers of the many Army opportunities."

Classroom presentations?? OK. I understand, though abhor, the notion of presenting the Army as an alternative for students considering the future at events like job or college fairs. But giving them access to the classroom, where education is supposed to be happening is incredibly troubling. Military propaganda as curriculum. It's sickening.

High school parents, please become paranoid. The Army recruiter is encouraged to do everything s/he can to create that first contact with your child. Assisting in registration, eating lunch in the school cafeteria, lead calisthenics for the football team, and get involved with Boy Scouts. Recruiters will be preaching Army wherever they go.

And they are targeting students of color. The handbook specifically tells the recruiters that "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday is in January. Wear your dress blues and participate in school events commemorate this holiday." Doesn't mention dressing up for Washington or Lincoln's b'days. Hmm. And they are to assist in commorating both Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.

Recruiters are told to focus on kids who are struggling. "Contact college students who are home during the holidays (remember that many first-year college students do not return to school after the first semester)." "How is their second semester financial situation?" And there's a special section in the handbook on the "Stop-out Cycle", which details when, in each semester, a college student is most likely to be "open" to recruitment.

Recruiters are to prey on parental financial fears regarding college, as well. "Never pass up the opportunity to address the parent-teacher association . . . . At this stage, many parents will be pondering how they will finance their child's education."

What can we DO about this? What can I do about this? A good op-ed piece about this is here.

Until tomorrow,


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