The Organic Intellectual

If our greatest task is to liberate humanity, as Paulo Freire asserts, then it is absolutely essential that we create a culture of resistance from below that is able not only to counter, but transcend the limitations of the ruling culture imposed by above. Hopefully, The Organic Intellectual will help serve this purpose.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Huge Potential Victory for Toledo Public Schools

It was announced yesterday that Learning Not Recruiting was holding a press conference in front of the Toledo Public School Board building at 10:30 this morning. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but the reason for this was because the TPS board made a unanimous vote which made some major changes to the availability military recruiters will have to TPS students. Here's an outline of the major changes:

1) As required in law, every year, TPS will now deliver a visible consent “opt-out” form to parents and students, which will enable them to make choices for the privacy of releases of student contact information. This form will be accompany the Emergency Medical Authorization, a form which parents must return each year.

2) TPS will use several avenues to inform parents and students of their rights to opt-out of the releases of private student information, known as “directory information.” These notifications will be included in school registration packets, principals’ newsletters and at the TPS website.

3) As specified in the federal No Child Left Behind law, and as agreed by the U.S. Department of Education, TPS will honor any student’s opt-out, including a minor student’s opt-out, from military recruitment releases of directory information.

4) TPS will no longer administer the official military entrance test known as ASVAB at any Toledo Public School. They acknowledge in policy that these tests should not be the responsibility of any TPS employee to administer.

Furthmore, the significance of this is immense. To quote the main organizer of Learning Not Recruiting, Peggy Daly-Masternak: “To our knowledge, TPS Board is the first in the country to eliminate ASVAB testing."

This is surely a percussive blow to the predatory military recruitment policies employed by the U.S. government. Economic enlistment, the targeting kids who are huddled into dilapidated schools with little resources, is rampant in Toledo. Where I went to school, Southview in the Toledo suburb of Sylvania, we had a military recruiter in one a month or so at lunch. Some TPS buildings, to my understanding, have a permanent office for recruiters. Under harsh pressure to meet their quotas, they do whatever they can to coax malleable teens into military servitude. I have had more than one or two friends, unsure of what they want to do or feeling they lack the resources to do it, coerced onto this path.

I don't have to point this out, but we can be sure the recruiters will attempt to fight back. This can definitely damper their ability to pull as many kids out of school and into the military. Pressure continues to be placed upon recruiters, especially given Obama's enlargement of the occupation of Afghanistan, so we can expect them to lead a full-scale backlash against this victory.

At the University of Toledo, the Army ROTC program has ballooned in the past few years. Hopefully, this battle will spread onto the campus as well, I will welcome it.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Toledo has now set a precedent that we can hope for other public school districts to follow. We should welcome this as a major victory, and do everything we can to defend these gains.

The full news release can be read here at Glass City Jungle.
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