Friday, September 28, 2007
September PEP Meeting: Mayoral Appointees Reject Resolution on Military Recruiting
The Panel for Educational Policy meets monthly to review DOE policies and approve budgets. As the appointee of Borough President Scott Stringer, I represent Manhattan on the Panel.
At Monday's Panel for Educational Policy, I brought to the panel a resolution recommending measures to improve the oversight of military recruiting in schools. The resolution would also ensure that families could exercise their right to keep their personal information from being turned over to the military. We lost in a 6 - 3 vote with Chancellor Klein, the mayoral appointees and the appointee of the Staten Island Borough President voting against. The Queens and Bronx members joined me in supporting the resolution.
The impetus for the resolution was a report and student survey released by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Students or Soldiers Coalition.
The main findings of the survey were:
1) One in five students reported that class time was being used by military recruiters.
2) 40% of students did not receive forms allowing them to opt-out of providing personal information to military recruiters.
3) One in five students did not believe anyone in their schools could advise them on risks and benefits of military enlistment
4) Half of the survey respondents did not know to whom they should report military recruiter misconduct
In light of these findings, we prepared a resolution with a series of recommendations for the Department of Education. We suggested a chancellors regulation be implemented to clarify the policy and require appropriate enforcement measures:
1) Use of classroom time should be prohibited and limits be placed on frequency and location of recruiter visits.
2) Opt-out forms should be distributed in multiple languages to all high school students. Other easy methods should as a website or check boxes on school forms should be employed.
3) Records of military recruiter visits should be kept and published.
4) School staff should be trained in the policies and a procedure established to report recruiter misconduct and all compliance with all policies should be monitored by the DOE.
5) In each school, appropriate staff members should be trained to advise students on military enlistment.
While Chancellor Klein agreed that many of the measures made sense, he was not willing to adopt the resolution, citing the burden the measures would place on the schools. I suggested that the DOE might manage aspects of the policy centrally, for example using the new ARIS database to send the opt-out mailings, thereby actually removing an administrative burden from principals. I also pointed out how expense and administrative effort seem to be of no concern when it comes to enforcing the mayor's ban on cell phones. In any event, we will continue to press the DOE to fulfill its obligations to our children.