Class Wars: Students and Military Recruitment

School is back, and a hot issue in communities nationwide is what students are doing about aggressive tactics used by military recruiters at schools -- especially provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act that give military recruiters full access to student records and heighten their ability to prey on teens unsure about their future.

My friend JoAnn Wypejewski has a good piece in the most recent Mother Jones about how military veterans are taking a lead role in the growing counter-recruitment movement, offering eye-opening accounts of real-world experiences in war that students won't find in an Army brochure.

They're also letting youths know that under the No Child Left Behind Act, students can file paperwork to prevent schools from releasing personal information to military officials. Parents and students have organized "opt-out" events in 321 communities across the country. As of this week, more than 24,000 opt-outs had been requested, says Leave My Child Alone, a national coalition coordinating the events.

It will be interesting to see how these efforts fare in the South, which supplies a disproportionate share of the new recruits in the armed services. A recent Institute report (pdf) found that 35-40% of new enlistees come from the South, and the American Friends Service Committee recently revealed that of the 16 states in the country where recruiters enlisted the greatest share of the 17-24 year-old population, seven are in the South (Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina -- although D.C. and Hawaii topped the list).