The Bush administration’s ability to assure the nation that there will be no draft in the foreseeable future is heavily dependent on its ability to violate a student’s right to privacy. The underground band, “Anti-Flag,” has taken on an unusual role for a musical group by sponsoring Militaryfreezone.org, a website dedicated to creating awareness about the military’s recruitment campaign and its connection to the No Child Left Behind legislation. Nestled into the already controversial legislation is section 9528, which gives the government the power to withhold federal funding from schools that fail to provide phone numbers and addresses of students to military recruiters. The campaign took to the streets last week when petitions were circulated to stop schools from being forced to divulge personal information about their students. U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif,), Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wa.) have also expressed their support for the cause.
Last month, the Marines missed their recruitment goal for the first time in decades. The military is having an increasingly difficult time convincing America’s youth that joining the armed forces is in their best interest. Though just one of many unorthodox tactics the military has employed in its recent round of aggressive recruiting efforts, section 9528 stands out in its flagrant disregard for student rights.
Parents have the option not to allow their child’s personal information to be released by the school. But they are rarely told that the military will be one of the recipients of this information, so parents rarely act on this option. Not all schools, however, are required to turn over personal information to the government. The language of NCLB stipulates that only those schools that receive funding under the 1965 Secondary Education Act must comply. And while it should certainly inspire disgust, it should come as no surprise that former President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into legislation to specifically target urban, poor and especially minority school districts. The disproportionate recruitment of minority and impoverished youth into the military is therefore not a random phenomenon, but a direct result of institutional racism.
Militaryfreezone.org, and the few legislators who have come out and publicly supported its cause, should be praised for taking the initiative to stop this unethical practice and raise awareness about this important issue.
If the Bush administration is advancing an agenda that necessitates the expansion of the military, it should be forthcoming about the consequences of such policies for the American public. We cannot wait until the children of America’s upperclass to question the way in which the military recruits its forces. If there is a war, the burden must be shouldered by all Americans, regardless of economic status or race.