Vets for Peace get chance to discuss alternatives to military in Pinellas schools - By Mitch E. Perry

07/14/06

A year and a half old battle for anti-war activists to get access to high School students on Pinellas County school campuses may soon turn in their favor.

On Thursday, the Pinellas County School Board gave ‘tentative’ support to allow members of the group Veterans for Peace come on campus and speak to students, allowing equal time as it were with military recruiters. Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, schools have been required to provide students' names, telephone numbers and addresses to military recruiters who ask for them. Linda Hubner is with Veterans for Peace (roll tape#1 o.q.�to their country�)

Members for Veterans For Peace – stymied by the Pinellas and Hillsborough County School Boards from getting access inside the classrooms – have distributed their literature outside high school campuses over the past year. They’ve also lobbied the School Board directly , to no avail, until Thursday.

Jim Robinson is the attorney for the Pinellas County School Board. He says the reason for the District’s tentative acceptance of Veterans For Peace’s request to address students is that the anti-war group has changed their tune to some extent (roll tape#2 o.q.�for alternative career paths for students�)

That change in message may have now given Veterans For Peace the audience they’ve desired, but one member of the group, Jesse Kern, says he’s not sure if this ‘tentative’agreement now is really going to be worth it (roll tape#2 o.q.�right back to career counseling�) Veterans For Peace reportadley sent the Pinellas School District a letter saying its intent if allowed to address students is to present “positive, factual information about vital career plans that are wholesome and oriented toward serving society�.

Veterans For Peace member Linda Hubner says their members will not be out to bash the military (roll tape#3 o.q.�whats out there�)

Veterans For Peace member Jesse Kern is concerned that the message from his group might be neutered because of rules agreed to get access. (roll tape#4 o.q.�people inside�)

And Kern says its important to let young students –especially struggling ones – know they have options in life other than suiting up for the armed forces (roll tape#5 o.q�or deceived�)

Board members will review a draft version of a policy that will allow the group to present its message at its August 22nd workshop.

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