Saturday, August 27, 2005


The mandatory recruitment provision in No Child Left Behind is odd indeed, when you consider the fact that No Child Left Behind is supposed to be an education bill, not a military bill. I suppose part of the problem rests with the recent behavior of renegade recruiters: showing up at schools once a week or more often; harassing and bullying potential enlistees; accepting enlistees with obvious psychological and/or drug problems; intruding into home situations etc....But I still have issues with the provision itself.

Ideally, it should have been passed separately or as a part of a military bill, preferably the former, rather than burying it in legislation which is designed to create over-testing and unfunded mandates for states while depriving local school boards of the right to local control. (Just what Ted Kennedy was thinking when he signed on to this monster of a bill is beyond me, but I lost a lot of respect for him after supported this imbecility.)

In a perfect universe there would be no financial penalty--no threat of lost federal funding by any school if that school refused to enforce this provision. And yet there is. Again, just why the government would resort to financial black mail in an effort top intrude into the private lives of parents and children is beyond me--maybe it's a strange form of family values from the far right--I don't know. But I do get a chuckle when I listen to anti-big government Republicans who support this fine example of big government intruding into the lives of parents and their abilities to parent. So much for getting government off our backs. Maybe it's an example of getting government off our backs and into our personal lives? Personally, I believe recruiters DO have a place in our schools, but that place should be on the same level as other career opportunities. No more nor less. There should be assigned times and places for recruitment efforts with strict penalties against both the recruiters and other business representatives who fail to obey the school's local standards. (The military being the financially secure institution that it is, I would suggest that individual fines be leveled against offending recruiters. The individual fines would range between $500 and $1000 per offense depending on the severity of the offense, but I would also zap the branch of the military that the recruiter represents at the rate of $100,000 to $500,000 per offense. Possibly more, again depending on the severity of the offense or offenses. Short of more openly revealing the fact that parents have a right to go to the school and demand that their children's personal information NOT be shared with the military (as No Child Left Behind stipulates), I would suggest a version of the DO NOT CALL LIST which is being used against tele-marketers in some states, be imposed at the federal level. Parents could put their children's name on the "DO NOT RECRUIT" list and after that there would be stiff fines the school, the recruiter, and the particular branch of the military in question when the terms of the DO NOT RECRUIT list are violated. I see this as a viable position since it places responsibilities on everyone involved. My only concern is that it might be used as a CALL list, but again, that would include strict penalties. Perhaps the best way to counter this is by enacting the provision as we do in DO NOT CALL provisions here in Wisconsin--just a name and a phone number with no personal information. And if you move you have a right and an obligation to contact the government to inform them of your new phone number (assuming you're one of the few who still have a land based phone.) Concerned parents would be responsible for placing their children's names on the DO NOT RECRUIT LIST; the military would have to obey, and after that it becomes a matter of each side playing by the rules and taking responsibility for its own actions. I realize my above suggestions come at a time when we are in the middle of an unpopular war; and I love to hear Republicans raise the idea of a draft when they defend the kind of underhanded tactics that are currently being employed by renegade recruiters. But there is another way to look at this. I support neither the draft nor heavy-handed recruitment efforts: merely honest, open recruiting techniques in proper places and proper times.

It all comes down to a matter of addictive behavior on the part of the military industrial complex and this administration in particular. If you give them a weapon the time will come when the craving will simply be too strong. They will want to use it. Deprive them of the weapon (in this case, potential targets in wars of choice) and they'll be a lot more selective in the kinds of wars they start in the future.

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