Sunday, June 01, 2008

JROTC must go now

Military recruiting at the later elementary level needs to be stopped. This is a time when most haven't developed the critical faculties to realize the commitment being made. Culling a standing, offensive army from our vital young is and has always been a most inhumane and appalling practice.--Pete

By Riva Enteen and Tommi Avicolli Mecca, SFBG

OPINION In November 2006, San Francisco made history when the school board made this the first big city in the nation to ban JROTC [Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps]. The board's resolution, which called for phasing out JROTC from high schools this June, stated that "JROTC is a program wholly created and administrated by the United States Department of Defense, whose documents and memoranda clearly identify JROTC as an important recruiting arm."

A poison pill was added to the resolution at the last minute: it called for a task force to be set up to find an "alternative" program to JROTC. The school district administration, in a particularly despicable move, set up the task force with more than 10 members supporting JROTC, and only one member opposed.

Surprise! After sitting for almost a year, the task force failed to come up with an alternative, so the school board rolled over and, except for two courageous members — Mark Sanchez and Eric Mar — voted last December to extend JROTC for another year.

In 2005, San Franciscans passed Proposition I by almost 60 percent, declaring it "city policy to oppose military recruiting in public schools." That same year, by the Army's own report, 42 percent of JROTC graduates across the nation signed up for the military. As this country enters its sixth year of the illegal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, it's time for the school board to go back to its original decision to kick the military out of our schools.

The school board must end JROTC — now. JROTC is currently scheduled to be "phased out," but not until June 2009. By then both Sanchez and Mar will be off the school board, and there will be little to prevent the military from orchestrating a vote to extend JROTC indefinitely. If, on the other hand, the school board votes to end JROTC this June as their original resolution required, JROTC would be gone.

Two progressives on the board must be convinced to send the military packing: Kim-Shree Maufas and Green Party member Jane Kim.

Both received endorsements from progressives. To convince them that they risk such endorsements in the future, the JROTC Must Go! Coalition is circulating the following statement: "We will look very closely at the next school board vote on JROTC and will consider the votes carefully when making any endorsements for future candidates."

Within a week, the Tenants Union, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and the San Francisco Bay View newspaper signed the statement. If Maufas and Kim join Sanchez and Mar, we'll make history again.

Riva Enteen is the former program director for the National Lawyers Guild and the mother of two San Francisco school district graduates. Tommi Avicolli Mecca is a southern Italian queer atheist writer and activist. For more information contact the JROTC Must Go! Coalition: (415) 575-5543 or

Wednesday May 14, 2008


  1. JROTC has been instrumental in setting up, operating, and cleaning up for all the extracirricular activities at my child's school.

    The working-class kids love the program.

  2. They clean up after activities, do they? Are you aware that they also teach kids to become officers in a system where they will eventually learn how best to kill people in foreign lands at their leader's will(s)?

    This is an elective in public schools that requires our young to become pawns in the global fight for resources and advantage. It is not a custodial service.
    Besides, how many "working class" kids have you asked about it? I and my sons are working class (bus driver, myself), and we detest our militarist culture.

    1. Mr. Stanislaw, can you please produce the curriculum materials where the JROTC instructors are teaching the students to become military officers? There is a long way to go between spending a couple of years in a JROTC program and becoming an officer.

      JROTC runs community service projects as a way to teach leadership, community involvement and a culture of service. There are many ways that this can be expressed. Cadets can perform service around the campus, serve as an honor guard for a football game, run a canned food drive for the less fortunate, to name a few. Please tell me what is wrong with this.

      In case you hadn't heard, we have had an all volunteer military since 1973. Joining JROTC, ROTC or the military is a CHOICE. It is a choice for "working class" kids just as it is for "non-working class" kids. If kids don't like what JROTC is teaching, they don't have to join or they can quit. Why are you so opposed to people having a choice to participate (or not) in activities that interest them or could actually benefit them? If a kid has a bad home life, lives in poverty and has poor academic performance as a result, the organization and discipline learned in JROTC could provide the structure he/she needs to perform better in school. What is wrong with that? If a kid spends a few years in JROTC and then decides (OF HIS OWN FREE WILL) to enlist in the military because he sees that as a pathway to paying for college or gaining a job skill, what is wrong with that?

      Your claim that JROTC cadets are pawns in some global scheme to take over the world is pretty amusing. Please tell me how they are being leveraged to take over the world while in high school.

      You chose to be a bus driver and none of us are going to denounce you for choosing the career that you wanted. For you it is an means to an end. For others, JROTC, ROTC or the military is their means to an end and you shouldn't denounce them. After all, it is those who join the military (aka The Other 1%) who stand ready to die for you to enjoy the freedoms that our Constitution guarantees. Are you willing to do the same for your fellow man when the time comes or will you just let those who want to take your freedoms and way of life away from you roll right over you? What are you willing to stand up for?

      Sleep well tonight because the American military stands ready to protect you from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

  3. Been there, done that. ROTC is great! Keep it in the schools.

  4. Hi, I'm a Company Commander in AJROTC at my school, and in all honesty I disagree with this article. I've seen the program change students and help them get more involved in the community. One of the cadets in my company (class period) was in a gang in the begining of the school year, and now he's not. He has a 3.5 GPA and is currently working in his first job. The way this program takes a toll on kids lives is amazing, I know, it changed my life. They don't MAKE you go to the military, it's a choice. So thanks for making me realize how ignorant adults can be when they don't know what they are saying.

  5. I am far from ignorant, which is what is required to join the military during times of aggressive military invasions and occupations being perpetrated by your own government.

    To teach the young to be aggressive and martial is appalling. You would counter with your notions of self-defense, which has always been a smokescreen where the US military is concerned.

  6. I was a JROTC student in high school (2 years ago) and because of their leadership i landed a full scholarship to cornell. JROTC is great for the nations kids who just want to smoke, drink and have sex. Oh did i mention i'm brown and not from this country. Yes JROTC is awesome Horaaaah