MIAMI DADE AND BROWARD CHANGE MILITARY RECRUITING REGULATIONS-Andrew Stelzer03/30/06
In the face of growing pressure from parents and other concerned citizens, two south Florida school districts are changing the policies about military recruiting in the schools. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer has the story.
Alileen Brousseau has a daughter and son who attended coral reef senior high school in Miami Dade County. Last year, she became concerned when she found out that military recruiters had access to personal information about her children, and were calling them at home asking them to sign up. Broussard says when she complained to the school that she should have been informed of the fact the military had access to her childrenâ€™s personal information, and should have been told she legally had the option to opt out of that database, the district blew her off.
ACT-Brousseau â€œI was never notified of this, I would have opted out if I was notified, I found out the staff didnâ€™t know either..â€?
So she began organizing, and distributing opt out forms herself, outside the high school every morning for a week. She then linked up with veterans for peace and the Quakers and formed the â€œtruth in recruitingâ€? coalition. Their goal was to notify parents of the opt out option.
ACT-Brousseau â€œIts the kids info, but really its my number, until they are 18, its my informationâ€¦â€?
Brousseau found that many parents did not know that the military had access to their students information; they also were concerned about how often military recruiters were visiting high schools and setting up recruitment tables. She also began hearing stories about recruiters telling lies to students in order to get them to sign up. She got connected to Jeanette Smith with the Quaker peace center in Miami Dade County, and together they organized meeting with school district administration officials a few months ago.
ACT-Smith â€œOne of the things we brought up was concern that recruiters were on campus, parents were not aware, and they were not signing in, most principals responded individually they would just estimate..The assistant school superintendent was shocked that they did not sign in.â€?
Brousseau attended the meetings and was asked by some people why she thought it was such as big deal.
ACT-Brousseau â€œThey say whatâ€™s the difference. I said I donâ€™t know of any job you canâ€™t quit. Its not the same..â€?
Recent Investigations by the Miami Herald have also found that the schools and students targeted were more often than not low income and minority students.
ACT-Smith â€œHomestead senior for example, has a 46% grad rate, yet Homestead and Killian are the 2 most highly recruited according to database by armed forces â€¦thatâ€™s sad.â€?
Now the Miami Dade school district has announced they will establish a uniform policy regulating military recruitment efforts. Meanwhile, as a result of similar citizens efforts in Broward county, forms allowing students to opt out of the militaryâ€™s database will be included in the student code of conduct handbook, which distributed in the beginning of the school year.
ACT-drew â€œWe simply decide to include it so that families had better accessâ€¦so they have the opportunity to pot out ..â€?
The opt out form has previously been available in Broward county, but only if it was requested by parents. Nadine Drew is a spokeswoman for the Broward county school board. She says concern on behalf of parents has increased as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has dragged on.
ACT-drew â€œI think itâ€™s become more of a n issue, more students are taking an interest about the future..â€?
Parents have 30 days to turn in the opt out form, and they will have to fill out the form again every year. Drew from Broward county schools says there will still be plenty of access for military recruiters.
ACT-drew â€œSo its not that were not providing opportunities, we are just providing student and families with greater opportunity to keep info private..â€?
But even with the new policies, the military may still have access to information about school children. The department of defense has established a marketing program that collects information on 16 to 30 years olds, which requires a separate opt-out form. Broussard has sent an opt out form to the Pentagon, and sent a freedom of information act request to the pentagon, asking what information they are paying the marketing company to collect, but hasnâ€™t received any response.
ACT-Brousseau â€œEssentially they are not eliminating the file, they are suppressingâ€¦I've heard they are collecting the weight my child was when he bornâ€”why I donâ€™t know.â€?
And Smith is still concerned that federal law gives the military a chance to overwhelm students with recruitment offers.
ACT-smith â€œNo child left behind says they get equal access to college recruiters, daily basis, twice a year at most, they actually had favored access..â€?
For more information about how to opt your child out of military recruiter and pentagon databases, log onto www.leavemychildalone.org
For WMNF news, Iâ€™m Andrew Stelzer