keeping the military out of our elementary schools - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-16-2010, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Two days ago, an ROTC group came to my 2nd grader's school and performed for the kids. Our principal insists that she accepted their offer because she thought it would be a nice musical assembly for the kids, and that she intended it as part of the school's enrichment program. The kids got renditions of the Simpsons theme song, the Sponge Bob anthem, and a song about the Air Force. Then the performers told everyone about why it's great to be in the armed services. This certainly does NOT qualify as enrichment in my book.

Armed services recruiters have a motto- "first to contact, first to contract."
It is absolutely unacceptable to me that Kindergartners are now being
"contacted." Admittedly, these were not recruiters, at least not in a technical sense, however, they were certainly reaching out to young hearts and minds in a way that I would define as pre-recruitment recruitment.

Over a quarter of our student population is ELL. We have overwhelmingly poor population as well, with a staggering 85% of our students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. In short, we have a student body that will be exceptionally vulnerable to standard military recruitment tactics once they reach high school. I'm enraged that this predation on poor kids and kids of color is starting NOW, in grade school. The ground work is being laid. But even if one were to take the issues of race and class out of the equation, this kind of military presence in any grade school feels like early indoctrination to me.

It's my hope that our district will adopt a policy that bans performances like the one my child saw this week. I am drafting a letter to our superintendent and school board asking for specific wording to be put into our district policy. (Currently, there is none, other than that which address NCLB and the access it grants recruiters to high school kids.) Does anyone have any suggestions for me regarding what I should put in my letter?

(Respectfully, I in no way wish to start or participate in a debate about the military itself, and certainly not about the individuals serve in the armed forces.)
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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While I understand your concerns, I don't think that the performance was at all unreasonable. Although my school has never hosted an ROTC band, we have had a few military events. We have parents who have served in the military come in and read to children on Vetran's Day. During this time they also talk about their careers in the military. There is obvious pride and enjoyment in this exercise.

Although you obviously don't approve of the military or military careers, I don't see what happened at your school as indoctrination. It's simply an outreach group. I view it as akin to the assembly we had last year when professional sports team visited the school as a part of their spring tour. No, it's not strictly educational. But it was fun for the kids and it made them aware of what was going on in their state/community.

If the ROTC group wasn't actively recruiting, I don't think your complaints are going to get too far. I understand why you don't like it, but I don't think they should be prohibited from coming just because they're from a group that you don't like.

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Old 04-16-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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If the ROTC group wasn't actively recruiting, I don't think your complaints are going to get too far. I understand why you don't like it, but I don't think they should be prohibited from coming just because they're from a group that you don't like.
I agree with this. If it were a local community theatre doing a brief play or a couple of musical numbers and a "talk back" afterwards about how they love doing theatre it would be the same situation IMO.

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Old 04-16-2010, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I view it as akin to the assembly we had last year when professional sports team visited the school as a part of their spring tour. No, it's not strictly educational. But it was fun for the kids and it made them aware of what was going on in their state/community.
I guess I could see this as analogous if the military did not have a standard of recruitment that is downright predatory, especially when it comes to poor children and children of color. Early outreach, while perhaps seemingly innocuous, is most definitely part of the MO. As far as I know, this is not quite the case when it comes to sports teams. (I also don't think that most sports teams ask a number of things of their participants that the military asks/requires, things that yes, I do indeed find morally and ethically and politically contrary to my most deeply held beliefs, but as I stated, I don't wish to debate the institution itself.)
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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I believe that, for some people, joining the military is a great choice. If my DH hadn't joined we'd be dirt poor right now...I don't think it's a bad idea to introduce the thought of "this is one of your many options."

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Old 04-16-2010, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with this. If it were a local community theatre doing a brief play or a couple of musical numbers and a "talk back" afterwards about how they love doing theatre it would be the same situation IMO.
Really? I'm having such a tough time seeing military enlistment and theater involvement as at all analogous!
And I am not saying that with any value judgment attachment, as seems to have a been a big positive for your family. One just strikes me as MAJOR life altering option with really big implications, the other not so much.
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:10 PM
 
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I wouldn't have a problem with it. But my kids have been to military bases, have their own Army "uniforms" and are just downright obsessed with the military.

Was this assembly any different than the magic shows and gymnastics type assemblies they have? I guess you could argue your point for every assembly provided by the school. Not all enriching and they'll expose the kids to different ideas.

The military is not bad, it's not a bad life for people. Would I be thrilled if my son's joined the military and went to war? Absolutely not. But I certainly wouldn't not allow it. My oldest son is in 2nd grade and if the ROTC came to his school, I would not assume they were there to brainwash my child into the joining the military.
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:19 PM
 
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When we are talking kindergartners, becoming interested in theatre/music/magic/sports and becoming interested in the military are surely equally life altering in the end.

And, the former examples definatley have more implications in the here and now.
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:26 PM
 
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Really? I'm having such a tough time seeing military enlistment and theater involvement as at all analogous!
And I am not saying that with any value judgment attachment, as seems to have a been a big positive for your family. One just strikes me as MAJOR life altering option with really big implications, the other not so much.
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Was this assembly any different than the magic shows and gymnastics type assemblies they have? I guess you could argue your point for every assembly provided by the school. Not all enriching and they'll expose the kids to different ideas.
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When we are talking kindergartners, becoming interested in theatre/music/magic/sports and becoming interested in the military are surely equally life altering in the end.
I'm a former theatre major and I can assure you that, if you want to go professional, it is a MAJOR life altering decision. It's a life choice just like the military. You have to devote your heart and soul to it. When I was in college all of my free time was spent in the theatre. I don't see how it's different... just because it's not involved in war?

ETA: My parents would have been more upset that a theatre group came and encouraged that choice than if it had been military because they consider theatre a "waste of intelligence." Everyone feels differently and, as long as the group doesn't violate any rules, there really isn't anything you can do...

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Old 04-16-2010, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a former theatre major and I can assure you that, if you want to go professional, it is a MAJOR life altering decision. It's a life choice just like the military. You have to devote your heart and soul to it. When I was in college all of my free time was spent in the theatre. I don't see how it's different... just because it's not involved in war?
yup, there is that minor detail!
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And I have to say, the whole "it's not breaking any rules, so there is nothing you can do about it" tact kind of surprises me. This is all about access to my kid (by an entity that I find ethically problematic) without parental notification or consent. If we are dealing in terms of analogies here, my guess is that there would be a number of parents here who would feel that similar outreach by, say, formula companies or vaccine manufacturers to elementary school kids without parental notification or consent might be problematic. This kind of thing might even be a practice that a number of folks would ask to have discontinued, even if it didn't violate any existing rules, and wasn't meant brainwashing, and even if it included a musical number or two.
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Old 04-16-2010, 01:52 PM
 
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And I have to say, the whole "it's not breaking any rules, so there is nothing you can do about it" tact kind of surprises me. This is all about access to my kid (by an entity that I find ethically problematic) without parental notification or consent. If we are dealing in terms of analogies here, my guess is that there would be a number of parents here who would feel that similar outreach by, say, formula companies or vaccine manufacturers to elementary school kids without parental notification or consent might be problematic. This kind of thing might even be a practice that a number of folks would ask to have discontinued, even if it didn't violate any existing rules, and wasn't meant brainwashing, and even if it included a musical number or two.
But in those cases you could offer an alternative...like having a breastfeeding mother come and speak to the class during a chapter on health.

And, FWIW, the military doesn't JUST do war. When there's a national disaster they bring in the military to help with evacuations, cleanup, and rebuilding/morale. There are also jobs, like what my DH does, that NEVER see combat. (He's finance, if he got deployed he'd probably be in a building doing currency conversion)

You can talk to the school about being informed next time there's an assembly of some kind. But I don't think you can ask the school to ban military groups from your school.


Can I ask a question? When I was in high school a model/acting scouting company came and set up a booth during lunch. They offered cards and a chance to win a free class. My parents were FURIOUS but okay when the military did the same thing. What are your feelings on that?
(I'm not picking a fight, I really want your opinion)

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Old 04-16-2010, 01:57 PM
 
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I guess I'm wondering what you expected when sending your child to school? My kid's exposed to all kinds of things at school that I wouldn't expose him to myself. Just because you don't find it ethical, doesn't mean other parents don't.

Are you given notice for assemblies? We are and if it's something I don't want my child to see/hear/whatever, I keep him home that day.

As for your vax analogy, we do have to deal with that, sort of. Our school offered the swine flu vax this year and we kept our kid home from school that day. We had not signed the consent form, but we felt we'd rather be safe than sorry (in case of an accidental dose) and kept him home. I wasn't about to lobby the school to not offer it since many parents felt their kids needed it. And that isn't my choice to make for anyone but my kids.

I really don't think you'll sucessfully keep the military out of schools. You may not agree with it, but some other parents are probably fine with it. Schools have to cater to everyone, so if I were you, I'd ask for advance notice on all assemblies and then you can decide how to proceed from there.
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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Did you see the actual presentation? or just hear about it secondhand?

I used to teach in a very liberal city school system, and the military was basically a non-entity for us at the middle school. One teacher's son joined the military, and he came and did a presentation about his work in her social studies class, and it was OK with me since the recruiters were not present. Lots of our school systems in my state have JROTC programs in their high schools.

I definitely understand your concern, I share many of your same worries, but I also know that for some of the students I worked with, the military was a great option for them, and one I would want them to be exposed to--since their other career plan was "be a professional basketball/football player" .

But, if you didn't see the presentation, i think you will have a harder time convincing the school board to not allow it again. What does your principal think now that the event is over? Would she allow them in again? (my former principal was former military himself, and he was very reluctant to bring the military in because he also had some of the same mixed feelings I did).
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:17 PM
 
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I really don't understand why it is so terrible for our children to be exposed to people in the military and the idea that it IS a career option. I personally feel like we should spend more time teaching our children to appreciate everything the people in our military have done and continue to do for us. The very military you are so dismissive of is part of the reason you can express your opinion here at to the school. I also disagree that military recruiters use predatory methods. No one HAS to join the military. It is voluntary so it is a choice people make. Yes, there are probably more lower income young adults that choose that as a career but that is their choice and the military can give them a lot of options in their future they might not otherwise have. I realize we all have our opinions on this subject but I just feel very strongly about it and I wish more people appreciated the fact that the military has and continues to be why we are a FREE NATION. You can teach your children whatever you wish. I have taught my daughter to honor and respect our military.
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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OP, I agree with you completely. I'd like to see the military kept out of schools, period, all the way up. Whether they are there playing music at elementary assemblies, or showing middle schoolers how cool their helicopters are, they are doing long-term recruiting. It's why they are there.


But realistically, it's not going to happen. The schools love this crap. It makes my husband, who is a public high school teacher, insane.

I'll do just about anything to keep my kids out of the military. So, every time we find out they will be in the schools, we have a long talk with them about it. They both have pretty good BS detectors, so I think we'll be OK.
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:49 PM
 
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OP, I agree with you completely. I'd like to see the military kept out of schools, period, all the way up. Whether they are there playing music at elementary assemblies, or showing middle schoolers how cool their helicopters are, they are doing long-term recruiting. It's why they are there.


But realistically, it's not going to happen. The schools love this crap. It makes my husband, who is a public high school teacher, insane.

I'll do just about anything to keep my kids out of the military. So, every time we find out they will be in the schools, we have a long talk with them about it. They both have pretty good BS detectors, so I think we'll be OK.
I agree with everything the above poster wrote.

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Old 04-16-2010, 03:04 PM
 
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Soooo ... I wouldn't have any problem with an ROTC group (they are students, not recruiters!) giving a musical performance at my dc's elementary school. Firemen, policemen, veterinarians, dentists, writers, environmental activist, musicians, gymnasts, etc, all visit the school. Great. Exposure to lots of ideas and possibilities.

That said, if a parent objects to something then of course I think the parent should write the school. Perhaps make sure all visitors/special assemblies at the school are announced ahead of time, so if there is something to which you object, you can withdraw your child from that activity.

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Old 04-16-2010, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can I ask a question? When I was in high school a model/acting scouting company came and set up a booth during lunch. They offered cards and a chance to win a free class. My parents were FURIOUS but okay when the military did the same thing. What are your feelings on that?
(I'm not picking a fight, I really want your opinion)

I think this example really goes to show that ALL families have a range of comfort levels with a variety of issues, and that the ideal is to keep as much home/school communication as possible open, and for schools to encourage and facilitate parental involvement in all levels of education.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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I hope you don't have plans to move to SA Texas. This is a huge military town. Many parents come to pick up their children in uniform, there is a big Veterans Day assembly, and the lead up week where students can honor a veteran with a poster that hangs in the hallway (you could barely see the walls).

Somehow, my younger BIL who spent half his childhood overseas, grew-up with two military parents, a brother and sister (and their spouses) who were in the military, plus and Aunt and Uncle (he is retired military) who work for DODDS and live in Germany, knew from the age of 9 years old that he did NOT want to join the military. We even had cute stories; dh went through basic twice--once as a fetus and once as an adult, dh and I were at basic at the same time and met three days after graduation because his friend commented on my nose, their sister met her dh on the job in the AF and they each thought the other was annoying at first then , but BIL . BIL even works a summer job on an Air Force base and his boss wanted to recommend him to the AF Academy, but still ; even when it looked like he would not be offered a sports or academic scholarship to college and would have to go to community college --no military for him.

On the other hand, no one I knew was in the military and there were no assemblies, but I joined the Air Force anyway.

I do agree with a pp that it would be good to announce ALL assemblies of this type to parents ahead of time so they could make a choice.

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Old 04-16-2010, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Did you see the actual presentation? or just hear about it secondhand?

I used to teach in a very liberal city school system, and the military was basically a non-entity for us at the middle school. One teacher's son joined the military, and he came and did a presentation about his work in her social studies class, and it was OK with me since the recruiters were not present. Lots of our school systems in my state have JROTC programs in their high schools.

I definitely understand your concern, I share many of your same worries, but I also know that for some of the students I worked with, the military was a great option for them, and one I would want them to be exposed to--since their other career plan was "be a professional basketball/football player" .

But, if you didn't see the presentation, i think you will have a harder time convincing the school board to not allow it again. What does your principal think now that the event is over? Would she allow them in again? (my former principal was former military himself, and he was very reluctant to bring the military in because he also had some of the same mixed feelings I did).
I didn't see the performance, but got accounts that match from a range of sources, including the school's principal. She has called the program's director and told him that the way the performance was used as a "recruitment vehicle" (her words, not mine) was inappropriate.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:15 PM
 
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yup, there is that minor detail!
Which shows uneducation in regards to the military.

Not all soldiers go to war. Not all soldiers support the war. Not all soldiers FIGHT in a war. Many do, yes. But it is a decision that they willingly make, whether you or I agree with it. But there are also many soldiers who serve the homefront and never set foot in war territory. They stay here to protect and serve our states.

In the sad state our schools are currently in with music, sports and other activities being cut out. I would be very thankful for a free concert that my children could attend that would possibly help them get interested in music, whether it was backed by the US military or not.

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Old 04-16-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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While I understand your concerns, I don't think that the performance was at all unreasonable. Although my school has never hosted an ROTC band, we have had a few military events. We have parents who have served in the military come in and read to children on Vetran's Day. During this time they also talk about their careers in the military. There is obvious pride and enjoyment in this exercise.

Although you obviously don't approve of the military or military careers, I don't see what happened at your school as indoctrination. It's simply an outreach group. I view it as akin to the assembly we had last year when professional sports team visited the school as a part of their spring tour. No, it's not strictly educational. But it was fun for the kids and it made them aware of what was going on in their state/community.

If the ROTC group wasn't actively recruiting, I don't think your complaints are going to get too far. I understand why you don't like it, but I don't think they should be prohibited from coming just because they're from a group that you don't like.
Exactly. I think that after a performance, some Q & A is going to happen. Children are going to be curious.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I'm wondering what you expected when sending your child to school? My kid's exposed to all kinds of things at school that I wouldn't expose him to myself. Just because you don't find it ethical, doesn't mean other parents don't.
Really good question, and one that I have examined repeatedly over the past couple of years!
I guess I expect that the school's leadership will have a basic understanding of different families' value systems, and will attempt to be as respectful as possible when issues like these come up. And I guess that's my naivete.

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Are you given notice for assemblies? We are and if it's something I don't want my child to see/hear/whatever, I keep him home that day.
We aren't even given notice for assemblies. This is part of a larger problem involving really poor school/home communication, and lack of funds for translation of forms and so on.

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As for your vax analogy, we do have to deal with that, sort of. Our school offered the swine flu vax this year and we kept our kid home from school that day. We had not signed the consent form, but we felt we'd rather be safe than sorry (in case of an accidental dose) and kept him home. I wasn't about to lobby the school to not offer it since many parents felt their kids needed it. And that isn't my choice to make for anyone but my kids.
Sure, but I am guessing that your school did not host a musical event, replete with popular cartoon anthems, extolling the virtues of vaccinating.


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I really don't think you'll successfully keep the military out of schools.
I think that you are probably right. But as with many things, it is generally good practice to come to the bargaining table with what one wants. and than hopefully come to a mutually acceptable compromise.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:22 PM
 
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And honestly, being in the military IS a cool job.

And while you feel that the socioeconomic climate of your school makes them key targets to recuiters, they are also a group that can benefit most from being in the military.

I do think that recruiting at this age is too young, but I don't think that outreach is a bad thing.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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Really? I'm having such a tough time seeing military enlistment and theater involvement as at all analogous!
And I am not saying that with any value judgment attachment, as seems to have a been a big positive for your family. One just strikes me as MAJOR life altering option with really big implications, the other not so much.
Actually, the chances are the child is more at the right age to make the decision to join a community theater. Aren't they?
So I am more concerned about that. They have time to decide about whether military is right for them.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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Actually, the chances are the child is more at the right age to make the decision to join a community theater. Aren't they?
So I am more concerned about that. They have time to decide about whether military is right for them.
True. Community theatre needs children of all ages for different shows...the military doesn't accept anyone until age 18.

Kas (24), Helpmeet to Stefan (25), Mom to Franklin Gaudelio 4/15/09, Jonathan Boswell 1/2/11
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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And honestly, being in the military IS a cool job.

And while you feel that the socioeconomic climate of your school makes them key targets to recuiters, they are also a group that can benefit most from being in the military.

I do think that recruiting at this age is too young, but I don't think that outreach is a bad thing.
Couldn't disagree more to any of this.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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Two days ago, an ROTC group came to my 2nd grader's school and performed for the kids. Our principal insists that she accepted their offer because she thought it would be a nice musical assembly for the kids, and that she intended it as part of the school's enrichment program. The kids got renditions of the Simpsons theme song, the Sponge Bob anthem, and a song about the Air Force. Then the performers told everyone about why it's great to be in the armed services. This certainly does NOT qualify as enrichment in my book.
The bolded is the sticky part for me. Was it a regular Q&A? Many, many young children are filled with curiosity about the military, and I would find a general Q&A session to be entirely appropriate - just like if any other professional came into the school. On the other hand, was it actually a group of people standing up their after their performance trying to "sell" the kids on what's so great about being in the military? THAT would be completely unacceptable to me on many levels. Personal feelings about the military are irrelevant, I want my children, and all children to be able to go through elementary school exploring options and finding their own answers and making their own decisions unprompted.

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I really don't understand why it is so terrible for our children to be exposed to people in the military and the idea that it IS a career option. I personally feel like we should spend more time teaching our children to appreciate everything the people in our military have done and continue to do for us. The very military you are so dismissive of is part of the reason you can express your opinion here at to the school. I also disagree that military recruiters use predatory methods. No one HAS to join the military. It is voluntary so it is a choice people make. Yes, there are probably more lower income young adults that choose that as a career but that is their choice and the military can give them a lot of options in their future they might not otherwise have. I realize we all have our opinions on this subject but I just feel very strongly about it and I wish more people appreciated the fact that the military has and continues to be why we are a FREE NATION. You can teach your children whatever you wish. I have taught my daughter to honor and respect our military.
I personally know several people who have been blatently lied to in order to be recruited. There's a huge difference between supporting the military and not supporting the buracracy behind it, and please understand that some of us have great respect for the former while having issues with the latter.

OP I hesitate to say this but I suspect in the next couple of years you may be seeing a lot more military involvement in the schools. It's just a hunch on my part, but I clearly remember one of Obamas ideas was to have full community involvement from every American, and he was stressing military involvement pretty heavily. So far I can honestly say that he's moved forward pretty hard and fast with a lot of his campaign ideas, so it wouldn't surprise me to see this come about as well.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:41 PM
 
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And I have to say, the whole "it's not breaking any rules, so there is nothing you can do about it" tact kind of surprises me. This is all about access to my kid (by an entity that I find ethically problematic) without parental notification or consent. If we are dealing in terms of analogies here, my guess is that there would be a number of parents here who would feel that similar outreach by, say, formula companies or vaccine manufacturers to elementary school kids without parental notification or consent might be problematic. This kind of thing might even be a practice that a number of folks would ask to have discontinued, even if it didn't violate any existing rules, and wasn't meant brainwashing, and even if it included a musical number or two.
I agree that notification would be a good thing.

That said, school inherently introduces children to ideas and to expressions of those ideas. The curriculum will introduce ideas, literary heroes, etc. - not to mention the library. I think it's great that the arts curriculum includes performance. As with any curriculum, there will probably be elements that you appreciate and elements you don't.

Rather than treating it like they got access to your child without your permission I would try to remember that over the course of your child's schooling there will always be something that comes up that is a new or different idea. How you handle that with your child and with the school will teach your child a lot about how you value diverse ways of thinking and looking at the world.

I think it's always worth opening a dialogue with the school and requesting that they consider the balance - maybe what they need now is to get a radically peace-oriented group in.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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