Monday, November 5, 2007

We want YOU to put down that book and pick up this rifle

Yeah, OK, so that's an inflammatory title, but I can't help myself, I'm a blogger.

According to, a "group opposing military recruiting in schools plans a protest at the Madison Metropolitan School District's Board of Education meeting on Monday night." They're angry about ads for the US Army that have been placed on scoreboards in stadiums and gyms. (see a more in-depth article about it here)

I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, our schools are strapped for cash and, in order to raise funds, have begun to allow limited advertising at sporting events. Policies have been developed by the school board to "govern" the ads, and they say these meet with those standards.

In a perfect world, our public schools would be well-funded enough that they'd never even have to consider bringing in outside advertisements. I don't believe advertising of any kind has a place in public schools. Students have enough to think about during school and enough ads to deal with in the outside world without having to be bombarded with more while they're supposedly trying to learn. Sadly, that's too often the case, and sadly, our schools are underfunded.

I don't believe the military should have any special priveledges when it comes to being able to advertise or recruit on campus. If the school holds a job fair, then they should have access to a booth just like anyone. But it always bugged me that the local recruiter was free to glad hand with students during lunch at my high school (this was in Oklahoma, though I suspect lots of places have similar arrangements). We need to offer our students full disclosure, make sure they know all of their options and the full story behind each one. A recruiter is going to paint a rosy picture about military life that isn't necessarily the whole truth. Kids, especially those in tougher social and economic straits, should be aware of alternative options (making sure those options are available to them in the first place is a whole other can o' worms).

Back to those ads, though. Again it comes down to whether or not you believe grade schoolers should be exposed to advertisements on school grounds. I think it's a breach of our commitment to educate them in a safe, open environment.

I'm not anti-military. It is absolutely the right choice for some people to make and they provide an invaluable service to our country. Still, I think public schools are the wrong venue for spreading their message.

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