Monday, April 25, 2005
LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF EDUCATION
LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE
SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF EDUCATION
BAY AREA UNITED AGAINST WAR
P.O. BOX 318021, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94131-8021,
April 27, 2005
San Francisco Board of Education
555 Franklin St., Room 106
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dear Eric Mar, Norman Yee, Eddie Y. Chin, J.D., Dan Kelly,
Sarah Lipson, Mark Sanchez and Jill Wynns:
We were unable to speak at the board meeting last evening
(Tuesday, April 26, 2005) even though we signed up for the
speakers list. It's too bad, since what we wanted to say directly
related to the proposed school closures. Because we feel we
have an obligation to protect the children of San Francisco
from military recruiters, we wanted to bring new light to the
role of JROTC and military recruitment efforts, as well as to
the billions of tax dollars this and future planned wars will
costâ€”dollars that are being expropriated from our schools
and other human and social services.
I am including in this letter an article that appeared in the
Washington Post Sunday, April 24, 2005 entitled, "Enrollment
in Army ROTC Down in Past 2 School Years. More Officers Now
Being Commissioned From Earlier Pool, But Problem Looms"
by Josh White. It starts out with the following paragraph:
"Nationwide enrollment in the Army's Reserve Officers' Training
Corps has slipped more than 16 percent over the past two school
years, leaving the program, which trains and commissions
more than six of every 10 new Army officers each year, with
its fewest participants in nearly a decade." And later in the
article, "ROTC graduates account for 56 percent of the more
than 68,000 officers on active duty." And, towards the end,
"Klein said he spends half his time talking to parents about
ROTC, dispelling myths, promoting opportunities available to
their children and discussing the chances of serving in combat."
Please read this article to understand the real purpose and
intent for the ROTC and JROTC programs. In addition, now,
the U.S. military is spending multi-millions of dollars on
a publicity campaign designed to pressure parents into
convincing their own kids to enlist in order to get money for
college--money the parents don't have.
Not only is it a lie that ROTC and JROTC are not for
recruitment, it is a lie that joining the military will help
pay for college. A small percentage of veterans actually
ever receive this benefit. It is also dishonest to claim that
military service is the only way to finance college, since
there are many financial aid and scholarship programs
available to students without the financial resources to go
to college. But how can we expect the truth from
a government that declares war based upon lies they
invent? This is murder, not war!
More importantly, billions of our tax dollars are being
spent on this war and on the planning of new wars that
benefit only the wealthy elite our government represents,
two thirds of whom pay no taxes at all! And this vast cost
in tax dollars that comes from the vast majority of hard
working Americans is tearing the guts out of the funding
of the schools their own children attend. The cost of this
and all other planned wars is ravaging all public programs
and social services financed by working people's tax
dollars. And causing the war has resulted in over 1600
American deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths.
We must be clear. This war is not only wrong and immoral,
it is the direct reason for having to close schools in San
Francisco and across the country.
The argument on the local level for closing the schools--low
enrollment--is false and based upon the avoidance of the basic
reality of these very war costs--a simple case of denial on the
part of all those concerned. How else can a group of educators
talk about low enrollment being a problem? It's an opportunity
to cut class sizes! This is what our children need. The war
is standing in their way, our way and the way of the future
of our planet.
The war spending impacts even the parents who can afford to
send their kids to college--they are paying more for less--broken
down buildings, antiquated equipment, bigger class sizes and
stressed out teachers.
It is up to us to turn this around! And we are starting right
here in San Francisco, the Antiwar City! We are tired of
a world filled with war. We are tired of the assault on our
civil rights and civil liberties. We want our children to grow
up in a healthy, happy environment filled with freedom,
democracy and opportunities for all of our children to
develop their creative genius. The power of the human spirit
is its ability to come up with non-lethal and non-combative
ways to solve problems and resolve disputes. Do we want
to teach our children the force of violence and torture;
or the power of rational, peaceful, humane, creative thinking,
reasoning and social intercourse?
To that end, we want all ties to the military cut in the
San Francisco Unified School District. We want this Board
to join with the majority of people in San Francisco to
demand an end to the war; an end to military recruiting
--including the JROTC programs funded by the district.
Instead, we want to see this Board rally administrators,
teachers, students and their parents to work toward ending
the war and bringing all U.S. troops home now. We want all
of us to join together to demand that the money spent on
war go, instead, to education, health, housing and social
welfare for all people!
At the February 22, 2005 Board meeting, it was suggested
by Mark Sanchez that the Board members set up a committee
to oversee the elimination of the JROTC program. As we
recall, the Board voted in favor of this proposal. We want
to know what progress is being made on setting up this
committee. We would also like to propose that members
of the community antiwar organizations that brought this
issue up and are already involved in carrying out the fight
to rid the schools of both JROTC, ROTC and all military
recruitment efforts be represented on this committee.
Cutting all ties to the military is a crucial first step toward
these ends. All the members of the Board should be obliged
to acknowledge the 63 percent majority vote by San Francisco
voters last November to Stop the war and bring the troops
home now. This is the vote, also, of San Francisco's parents
with children in the public schools! The majority has spoken
and the board must act on behalf of the majority of parents
and children of the district.
Again, the Bay Area United Against War submits its
resolution to the Board for adoption. (Included with this letter.)
Yours for peace,
Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War (BAUAW)
Cristina Gutierrez, Director, Companeros del Barrio
Children's Center and BAUAW
Carole Seligman, Bay Area United Against War (BAUAW)
Draft Resolution Submitted for Adoption
to the San Francisco Board of Education
WHEREAS, the United States military is actively recruiting
high school students into the military to fight in Iraq; and
WHEREAS, many young San Francisco high school alumni
are presently serving in military units fighting in Iraq; and
WHEREAS, it is San Francisco City policy by virtue of
Proposition N, to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq now; and
WHEREAS, over 1,600 U.S. soldiers and approximately
100,000 Iraqis have been killed in this war and over
10,000 U.S. soldiers and unknown thousands of Iraqis
have been wounded; and
WHEREAS, the hundreds of billions of dollars
spent on the war have robbed our children of resources
that should be spent on education and other human needs; and
WHEREAS, military presence in our schools legitimizes
the message that violence is acceptable; THEREFORE BE IT
It shall be the policy of the San Francisco Board of Education
to cut all ties with the United States military, including, but
not limited to: Ending military recruitment on campuses;
ending the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC);
and guaranteeing that all students and parents are informed
of their right to deny military recruiters access to their names,
addresses and telephone numbers.
Enrollment in Army
ROTC Down in Past 2 School Years
More Officers Now Being Commissioned
From Earlier Pool, But Problem Looms
BY JOSH WHITE
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page A03
Nationwide enrollment in the Army's Reserve Officers'
Training Corps has slipped more than 16 percent over
the past two school years, leaving the program, which
trains and commissions more than six of every 10 new
Army officers each year, with its fewest participants in
nearly a decade.
The decline includes a drop of 10 percent from the
2003-04 school year to the term ending this spring.
According to the Army's Cadet Command at Fort Monroe, Va.,
which supervises ROTC, 26,566 students are enrolled in the
program now, down from 29,618 last year and 31,765 in
2002-03, the first full school year after the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks. Pre-Sept. 11 enrollments were also higher than
they are now.
At the same time, the number of officers commissioned
through the program has been increasing, as students who
joined ROTC three and four years ago rise to their senior
year. But that increase has occurred as the Army has ridden
the bubble of larger incoming classes from the beginning
of the decade. Army and ROTC officials are concerned that
flagging enrollments could soon strain the program's ability
to meet its annual quotas for commissioned officers.
While it is unclear precisely why enrollments have dropped,
Army officials and defense experts say the decline probably
mirrors the problems the Army has had recruiting generally,
as some potential recruits fear they will be sent into a war
zone after earning their second-lieutenant bar at graduation.
Some ROTC programs, such as the one at the University of
New Hampshire, have seen more than 80 percent of their
graduates fight in Afghanistan or Iraq over the past few years,
and the Army's increasing need for young, capable officers
has been drawing more ROTC graduates into the fighting ranks.
Army brass say their focus on officer recruitment is not strictly
on the numbers of those enrolled, but rather on recruiting
better-qualified cadets who are more likely to stay in the
program and receive a commission. Maj. Gen. Alan W. Thrasher,
who leads the Army Cadet Command, said the issue is
"quality over quantity."
"It is a balancing act, that we want to make sure we're
bringing in adequate numbers so that at the end of the day
we'll be able to make our mission," Thrasher said in a recent
interview. "We're always looking at our drop, but we also look
at our ability to increase our retention. If we have a huge
enrollment number, a large percentage will never make it
past a year . . .. At the end of the day, we want to commission
only top-quality officers."
Last year, the Army ROTC significantly exceeded the Army's
request for 3,900 new officers. Since the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq began, commissions coming out of Army ROTC have
grown from 3,308 in 2001 to 4,408 in 2004 -- an increase
of 33.3 percent.
The drop in enrollment, however, concerns some campus
recruiters because it could mean a deficit in years to come.
ROTC factors in a fair amount of attrition when projecting
how many recruits will make it to a commission at the end
of their senior year. Non-scholarship students who join as
freshmen and sophomores are not obligated to stay with
the program; those who remain as juniors and seniors must
sign contracts to join the Army upon graduation.
Edwin Dorn, a professor of public affairs at the University
of Texas at Austin and a former undersecretary of defense
for personnel and readiness, said defense officials should
have increased their recruiting efforts two years ago.
"During Vietnam, the services lost a large number of very
good but very disgruntled junior officers, and it took
many years to recover," Dorn said. "The services may
be creating a problem that will be with them for another
generation if they don't solve the officer recruiting
problem. You can't go out and hire a bunch of majors;
you have to have commissioned a group of second
lieutenants years earlier."
According to the Army, about 38,000 current officers
were commissioned through ROTC as of last year, and
more than 80 percent of them serve as majors or
lower-ranking officers. ROTC graduates account for
56 percent of the more than 68,000 officers on active duty.
The Navy ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs have also
experienced declines in enrollment since the surges after
Sept. 11, 2001, but both programs' enrollments are larger
than before the terrorist attacks. Air Force ROTC has
slipped 10 percent since the 2002-03 school year --
when there was a decade-long high of 17,513 students --
but its current enrollment of 15,793 is 10 percent higher
than that for the 2001-02 school year. Navy ROTC fell
1.4 percent over the past two school years.
Retired Lt. Col. Marian R. Hansen Kaucheck, recruiting
operations officer at Arizona State University's Sun Devil
Battalion, said her unit will commission nearly double its
quota this year but that next year might not look so good.
She said that to commission 20 officers into the Army, she
might need 50 to 60 people enrolled at the start, figuring
that nearly two-thirds of enrollees will leave the program
or not meet physical requirements for a commission.
"The bottom line is, if you don't have enough enrolled in the
basic course to allow for normal progression or normal attrition,
if you don't start at the beginning, it's going to be hard to
be successful," Hansen Kaucheck said. "For me, I understand
the numbers are getting harder, which means I have to be
very creative in reaching out and touching more students."
At the University of Oklahoma's Sooner Battalion, 1st Lt. Brian
Lusty said ROTC recruiting has seen "a really strange couple
of years." In early 2002, enrollment increased 200 percent;
Lusty, a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, said
he "looked like a recruiting stud." Then he deployed to Iraq,
and upon his return, a large percentage of his recruits had
fallen out of the program.
"As the war has drawn out, the numbers have gone down,"
Lusty said. "Parents are kind of pushing their children away
Maj. Martin Klein, an Army ROTC enrollment officer at
Georgetown University, said his battalion, which also serves
four other colleges in the District, is seeing fewer prospective
cadets come through the doors. But he said those who do
show up are more dedicated to serving and more likely to
reach a commission. Klein said he spends half his time
talking to parents about ROTC, dispelling myths, promoting
opportunities available to their children and discussing the
chances of serving in combat.
"What I've found is those students who are interested in our
program will come to us, talk to us, engage us," Klein said.
"Those students who were on the fence, they're just not
According to a U.S. military image study published in August,
the three key barriers for prospective ROTC recruits were
making a commitment to going on active duty after graduation,
possibly ending up in combat and losing too many years to
an Army contract.
Also mirroring general Army recruitment numbers for enlisted
soldiers, African American enrollment in Army ROTC has
dropped significantly over the past few years. This school
year, 3,328 African American students are in the program,
down 18 percent from last year and down 34 percent from
a high of 5,044 in the 2001-02 school year. Army studies
last year showed that the war in Iraq was more unpopular
in the black community and served as a deterrent to enlisting.
posted 1:50 PM 0 comments