Asked Questions (FAQs)
is AFSC's experience working with young people?
AFSC has an 80-year
history of involving youth in humanitarian service projects and in programs
working for peace, social and economic justice. Today the AFSC has youth-oriented
programs in many offices in the U.S. and abroad. These programs address
a range of issues: violence-reduction and the peaceful resolution of
conflicts; war and military service; lesbian and gay issues; and youth
leadership for peace and justice-making. Many AFSC offices have internships,
mentorships and volunteer opportunities for young people.
AFSC and many other
youth-serving organizations are working at the grassroots level to develop
a pro-youth agenda and provide positive opportunities for youth. While
these programs don't have billion dollar budgets and TV advertising
campaigns like the military's, they are providing a real alternative
way for youth to make a difference.
are you criticizing the programs that the military has designed to help
We believe that
students should be taught by people who are trained and certified to
do that job. Our public education system, though it is underfunded,
has developed programs that address the need for leadership training
and provide discipline and role models for youth. But while funding
for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) has grown, funding
for school counselors, for sports, music, drama, conflict resolution
and other activities has been cut in many of the very same school districts.
Let's expand these programs, give them an opportunity to work, and work
to improve our public schools.
Bringing in the
military is no substitute for addressing the challenges of our school
system. The military and the schools have two different purposes. The
military's job is to prepare for and to fight wars.
are you critical of the military?
AFSC is opposed
to militarism, the dominant role that the US military plays in U.S.
society. We are not hostile toward people who join the military.
Even though there
is no credible military threat to the US in the world today, the military
continues to have a stranglehold on federal government spending and
the US economy. Military solutions -- wars -- are often favored over
peaceful means of resolving international disputes. At the same time
our government says that we cannot afford to spend money on dealing
with basic human needs.
It's a problem
when we can commit $300 billion annually to maintain our military, but
we "cannot afford" programs to eradicate unemployment, poverty, and
homelessness, or inadequate childcare, education, and health care. Similarly,
it's a problem when there are school districts that can offer JROTC
programs but "cannot afford" to provide kindergarten.
all our options. No person should feel like joining the military is
his or her only option for getting a job, paying for college, or escaping
a violent community. We strongly believe that the policies and practices
of our schools and government institutions should be driven by the needs
of our people, and particularly our youth, not by the needs of a massive
and powerful military establishment.
the connection between JROTC and violence? Are you saying JROTC cadets
are going out and killing people?
We do not claim
that the publicized cases of JROTC cadets and instructors engaging in
violent and criminal behavior constitute a pattern. (On the other hand,
it is clear that some JROTC participants fall far short of the high
standards of behavior the program claims to instill.)
But an increased
military presence in schools -- complete with training in how to shoot
a rifle -- sends the wrong message to youth about our values. We live
in a country where the death rate from firearms among children under
15 is the highest among industrialized countries, 12 times higher than
the combined rate of 25 other industrialized nations. Schools choose
to sensitize -- or further desensitize -- youth to the consequences
of using weapons.
Many schools have
adopted a stance of zero tolerance for weapons and made it a priority
to teach students to find alternatives to aggressive behavior. What
is the message we want our schools to convey to young people about weapons:
how to use them safely, or not to use them? We would argue that developing
the skill and "discipline" to shoot straight is not a valuable instructional
objective for our schools.
your opposition to the marksmanship parts of Junior ROTC, are there other
reasons you believe JROTC should not be in our schools?
Concern about JROTC’s
connection with violence is not the only reason we believe JROTC is
not the best answer for our country’s students. Following are some more.
Learn more... Does JROTC belong in
We are concerned
that JROTC does not give students the best foundation they need for
life after high school. Schools need to provide their students with
sound educational preparation. Educators now recommend that all students
– regardless of their post-high school plans – take academically challenging
college preparatory classes. Participation in JROTC often limits other
options by taking the place of subjects such as advanced mathematics,
foreign languages, or other electives. Students in JROTC may not be
exposed to or offered other opportunities, such as counseling, academic,
or vocational preparation for non-military careers. Additionally, a
survey of state colleges and university systems showed few signs that
JROTC helps students meet college entrance requirements.
Learn more... Is
JROTC a Wise Use of Class Time?
Many members of
the school community – including educators and parents – have raised
concerns about the content of the JROTC curriculum. The texts, furnished
by the military, present history in a dogmatic and biased way, glorifying
the role of the military and warfare. The program emphasizes memorization
and obedience over critical thinking skills. School administrators typically
fail to exercise control over or say in what is taught in JROTC classrooms.
Although JROTC is
usually an elective, sometimes it is not entirely voluntary. In some
schools (such as several in Washington DC), students are automatically
enrolled in JROTC and have to request permission not to be in JROTC.
In the fall of 1999, the first public all-JROTC school, a public school
run by the military, opened in Chicago. No one should be forced to take
JROTC diverts scarce
resources at a time when school budgets are often being cut. The cost
to the school district (what it must pay in addition to what the Department
of Defense pays) is often much more – sometimes double – than the price
estimates provided by the military. In 1998-99, local school districts
paid over $222 million for JROTC personnel costs. In some schools or
districts, such as Lansing, MI, these rising costs have been a factor
in keeping JROTC out or terminating existing programs. JROTC instruction
is often more costly (per student) than academic, non-military instruction
(such as math or English).
is being touted as the answer to school problems, especially in inner-cities,
even though such claims are not substantiated. Many other (non-military)
programs have proven track records in reducing the dropout rate, training
young people in useful skills, teaching leadership and management skills,
and demonstrating good citizenship. We believe that JROTC is not the
best means of solving school difficulties or ensuring that young people
receive quality education.
there a link between JROTC and military recruiting?
assert that the program is simply an opportunity to help students develop
leadership and citizenship skills. They assert that JROTC is not a recruitment
program. However, in February 2000, US Secretary of Defense William
Cohen told the House Armed Services Committee that JROTC "is one of
the best recruiting devices that we could have." Indeed, approximately
40-45% of all cadets who complete JROTC enter the military (Department
of Defense figures).
activities such as JROTC are designed to boost recruitment in one way
or another. Young people are led to think of military programs as vocational
training or as a fun school activity for credit. Consequently, they
are left with a false and unrealistic view of what it means to hold
a job where a person could be ordered to go to war.
do I get out of the Delayed Entry Program?
The Delayed Entry
Program (also known as the Delayed Enlistment Program or DEP) allows
a young person to sign up to join the military up to a year before she
or he reports for active duty training. Many young people sign up during
their last year of high school and then finish school before starting
military training. People in the DEP are not yet members of the military.
Getting out of the
DEP is much easier than you have probably been told. You do have
a right to get out. If you are having second thoughts for any reason,
it is best to get out now. It is much more difficult after you have
For a variety of
reasons, you may decide that the military is not for you. If you would
like to get out of the DEP, you must write a letter stating that you
are no longer interested in the military, that you want to be separated,
and your reasons why. After you decide to leave the DEP, you are likely
to face a lot of pressure from your recruiter. Keep in mind that threats
are not true and that separating from the DEP will not have bad consequences.
See our "Ask
Us" section for more detailed instructions and places to find help
turning 18 soon and I’ve heard that the law says I’m required to register
for the military draft. What are my options?
It is true that
the law says that every male must register for the draft within 30 days
of his 18th birthday. At present there is no actual draft.
Your choices are
not easy, but you do have them! Either you register or you don’t. It
is only after Congress reinstated a draft and you received an actual
notice calling you up for military service that you could try to obtain
a "deferment" (a postponement of military service) or "exemption" (a
release from military service). At that point you could present information
about medical or family problems, your objection to fighting in all
wars (conscientious objection), or other reasons for not being drafted.
These options are not available to you at this point.
Some people register
but place messages stating their opposition to war in the margins. This
is a form of protest and does not necessarily have any legal significance
later if you should apply for a deferment or exemption.
The maximum penalties
for non-registration are stiff (prison and/or fine), although current
government policy is not to prosecute people accused of failing to register
for the draft. Instead, the draft agency has relied on a series of coercive
federal and state laws that deny benefits to young people in order to
muscle them into complying.
and not registering have their risks. The risks associated with not
registering are obvious: possible prosecution or the loss of certain
benefits, such as federal and possibly state financial aid, certain
government jobs, and participation in federally-funded job training
programs. On the other hand, persons who register may find it more difficult
to avoid the draft later.
There is no "right"
choice for everybody who is opposed to a draft. You have to make a decision
for yourself based on what you think you can live with. Many men do
choose, for a variety of reasons, not to register. The prospect of being
forced into the military just doesn’t sit well with many young people.
AFSC produces a
draft information packet. It includes information on the financial aid
law, alternative sources of aid, what to do if the government identifies
you as a non-registrant, etc. (Order
do you get your information?
All of our work
is carefully researched and documented. Our statistical information
is generally obtained directly from government sources, mostly the Pentagon
and the Education Department.
In addition, AFSC
staff have worked on the issue of military involvement in schools for
several decades, both in our national office and in communities around
the country. AFSC staff and volunteers work closely with young people,
educators, parents and other community members who are concerned about
education. We often work in schools where the U.S. military is active.
While military programs like the JROTC are certainly popular with some
students and educators, the concerns we raise have been strongly expressed
not only by us, but by other parents, students and staff at schools
across the country.
Our analysis of
the JROTC program is also based on our own review of all the JROTC textbooks,
as well as on evaluations of JROTC curriculum materials that have been
conducted in a number of school districts. For a detailed list of sources,
see the academic study of JROTC, Making
Soldiers in the Public Schools.