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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 4, 2003
2:36 PM
CONTACT: The Green Party of the United States
Nancy Allen, 207-326-4576, nallen@acadia.net; Scott McLarty, 202-518-5624, scottmclarty@yahoo.com

'No Child Left Behind' Act's Military Recruitment Provision Violates the Rights of Students, Parents, and Schools;
Citing invasion of privacy and wartime targeting of children, Greens urge Congress to repeal the provision; Idaho Greens make a legal 'opt-out' form available; students organize a March 5 'Books Not Bombs' strike for peace.
 
WASHINGTON - March 4 - Greens today urged Congress to repeal the provision of the 'No Child Left Behind' Act that requires the 22,000 high schools receiving federal funding to turn over the names, phone numbers, and addresses of all students to military recruiters. The act authorizes recruiters to make unsolicited calls, send direct-mail recruitment literature, and visit students' homes without the consent or knowledge of their parents.

"This so-called education reform bill is really about leaving no child behind when we send our troops to invade another country," said Pete Looker, a Green activist in Saratoga Springs, New York, whose daughter attends high school. "Parents are aghast to learn that schools are sending their children's contact information to military recruiters. It's an invasion of students' right to privacy, it interferes with parents' right to guide their children in career choices, and it undermines local community control ofschools. Some schools have recognized this, and their refusal to participate is entirely justified."

Greens say that, at a minimum, school officials should only provide a student's information to military recruiters when parents give their express permission, rather than requiring parents and students to opt out of theprogram. The military has already accepted such opt-in lists from several school districts in New York. The federal law does not provide for a cutoff of federal funding for noncompliance.

The Idaho Green Party has drafted a form that assists high school students in having their names removed from the list that the school is required to give to military recruiters. The form, which has been reviewed by two attorneys, can be accessed in PDF at http://www.idahogreenparty.org.

Students across the U.S. have begun to protest the policy. The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC) has announced a one-day student strike on Wednesday, March 5, 2003 to protest the war on Iraq. Students participating in 'Books Not Bombs!' will demand that administrators stopsending student information to military recruiters without consent from parents and students, as well as declare opposition to the war and military research contracts, and support for freezing or lowering tuition and fees.

"Youth often join the military because they can't afford college costs and don't have real job opportunities in their communities," said Ben Manski, Green Party Co-Chair and a law student at the University of Wisconsin. Manski noted that more than half of high school students enrolled in Junior ROTC are students of color. "Given the Supreme Court's expected decision on affirmative action, the military may soon become the only exit point for many youth."

"As the U.S. prepares to enter a war, the effect of the No Child Left Behind Act is to pressure children from low-income backgrounds into enlisting in order to send them to the Iraqi front," added J. Roy Cannon, Delaware Green Party member and community-based Mental Health Counselor.

The provision was inserted after the Pentagon complained that 15% of U.S. high schools are "problem schools" for recruiters. Some school districts, including San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, had barred recruiters on the grounds that the military discriminates against gays and lesbians. In 1999, the Pentagon claimed that recruiters were denied access to schools on 19,228 occasions. The sponsor of the provision, Rep. David Vitter (R-Louisana)argued that schools "demonstrated an anti-military attitude that I thought was offensive."

"While school officials in Maine have warned teachers that children of military personnel were upset by antiwar discussion in classes, many more parents are upset that high schools are now required to participate in the military recruitment of their children," said ex-Marine and longtime Green Party organizer Howie Hawkins of Syracuse, New York. "The increased militarism in our schools and from our national leaders and the media is an attempt to condition us to accept war. The new law undercuts the authority of school districts to control what happens in the schools."

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