The Old 3 R's Now Include a Hot 4th - RECRUITMENT
Cannon Fodder News
CHICAGO – Almost 10,500 of the Windy City's 203,000 sixth through twelfth-graders participate in some sort of military program on campus, according to this MOJO article entitled Fast Times at Recruitment High. Author Andy Kroll explains how Secretary of Education Arne Duncan invited the Pentagon into Chicago's schools and ponders the question:“Will he promote military schools nationwide?" Kroll writes:
“Chicago may have the nation's biggest JROTC program, but it is no longer an anomaly. Due to increases in federal funding for JROTC programs, the military's presence in public schools is greater than ever before. More than a dozen academies partly funded by the Department of Defense have sprouted up from Philadelphia to Oakland, and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 passed last year will increase the number of JROTC units nationwide from 3,400 to 3,700 by 2020, at a cost of $170 million. (Peacework magazine obtained a list of schools that have requested JROTC programs.) The Marines are in discussions to open new JROTC academies in Atlanta, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, helping to expand a program that critics contend has blurred the line between education and recruitment.”
The accelerated push for military recruitment of middle schoolers coincides with the timely Democratic Party's push to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrant families from Mexico. Just in time to start training their kids to become sharpshooters? While the Pentagon has provided millions of dollars in funding to Chicago's military academies, the article also notes the role of another local, “loyal backer” of Chicago's military programs, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who has secured $2.1 million for the Rickover Naval Academy and $5 million for the Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville. Incidentally, Sen. Durbin's DREAM ACT would grant undocumented youth conditional permanent residency if they meet a set of education or military service criteria and would also extend work study, financial aid and other in-state tuition incentives that would bring an estimated 65,000 American-raised youth out of the margins each year. (Senator Durbin, along with Charles Grassley [R-IA] are also pushing a necessary and vital bill that will crackdown on H-1B visa abuses. Last year, Grassley sent a letter to Microsoft, urging the company to terminate H-1B visa holders before laying off American computer programmers and IT professionals.)
Ever hear of the Chicago Renaissance 2010? In another fine article, Kroll defines the “corporatization” of public education where shuttering public schools in favor of military or private schools is specifically geared to further the corporate sponsored, elitist agenda of advancing a have and have not educational system (paid for, of course, by Joe Taxpayer) below:
“Look no further than Chicago's divisive Renaissance 2010 reform model for evidence of why increased mayoral control is a poor idea. The centerpiece education reform for both Mayor Daley and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Duncan, Renaissance 2010 is a sweeping program that seeks to close underperforming schools or schools with low enrollment and replace them with multiple new, smaller, "entrepreneurial" schools. Many of these new Renaissance 2010 schools are "contract" or charter schools operated by independent nonprofit organizations which can - and mostly do - eliminate the teachers' union. What's more, these nonprofit organizations can, in turn, outsource management of their new schools to for-profit education management organizations, privatizing what used to be a public school.”
Other questions relating to the transformation of the nation's public schools into military recruitment centers abound. While the demise of the nation's public school students' academic performance coincides with public schools around the country dipping into the red, a sharp rise of charter school and private school enrollment is soaring. This essay, written back in 1997, explains the vital link between funding and academic performance:
“Over the years, American public schools have been in debate due to racial inequalities and as the practical value of the high school diploma decreased. Public schools in the United States of America are usually funded by the local, state, and federal government. The local government provides the funds for a public school to function. Local governments usually receive funding from the property tax of the residents living in the vicinity of the school (Kozol, 54). Teachers' salaries, books, and transportation are just some of the expenses involved in running a school. This means children that live in rich neighborhoods will receive more funding, while children in poor neighborhoods will receive less funding (Kozol, 55). Cities also have the problem of higher police expenditures and fire department costs which use up the "limited tax revenues." (Kozol, 55) This situation creates a large gap between rich schools and poor schools.”
It used to be the exclusive domain of the GOP to bash those dreadful “social” gummint programs and promote the privatization of education, but now the Obama administration has jumped on the “socialist” bashing bandwagon. Fast forward to the new millennium, where we witness the growing divide between have and have not populations in our communities and schools. In addition to the growing number of military programs being offered to low income kids as the nation's public schools endure funding cuts, is it merely a coincidence that government officials would do the bidding of think tanks which would seek to discredit public schools via the increased promotion of voucher systems and other mechanisms to funnel tax dollars into corporatized education centers such as the Edison Schools which would advance the privatization agenda of this regime of think tanks?
And what will become of those middle-school aged, inner-city and amnesty kids? Certainly, not all students are cut out for college and some will welcome military training. A large number of them might even be grateful for the opportunity to take refuge in the nation's once democratic and strong, well-funded public school system where they now can learn to become patriotic cannon fodder to serve in corporate America's international wars. Maybe the bipartisan, feverish push for that compassionate amnesty bill is indeed just the ticket for a streamlined, military educational curriculum, courtesy Obama's Secretary of Education. Hope, change, snappy uniforms and all that, as the old 3 R's are now 4 for War.