No child is left behind by military recruiters

| 21 Feb 2012 | 11:00

    MONROE-An obscure section of the No Child Left Behind act, signed into federal law by President George Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, requires schools receiving federal funding to release the names and addresses of students to military recruiters. Parents, on an individual basis, have the option to prohibit the release of information on their children by notification to the school. Don Przytula, director of guidance for the Monroe-Woodbury High School, says the school sends the student information, on approximately 600 potential graduates a year, to the government the summer before their senior year, but notifies parents by letter offering them in advance to opt out of the program before the personal information is released. Przytula says Monroe Woodbury welcomes military recruiters who visit the school once a month. They setup a table outside the cafeteria for interviews with a school representative always in attendance. Although he doesn't maintain statistics, Przytula thinks the actual recruitment numbers have diminished due to the Iraq War despite the new recruiting policy. According to the United States Army Recruiting Command, recruiting success has been less than desired. For fiscal year 2005, the annual goals were 80,000 enlistments for the Active Army and 22,175 and for the Army Reserve. As of April 25, only 84 percent of the Active Army goal of 35,926 had enlisted and only 79 percent of the 7,283 target enlistments in the Army Reserve were achieved. By contrast, the 2004 Army staffing needs were exceeded: 587 more enlistees than the 77,000 goal for the Army's active component and 78 more than the reserve goal of 21,200. A recently published Washington Post article stated: "Increasingly, surveys show that the main reason young American adults avoid military service is that they - and to a greater degree their parents - fear that enlisting could mean a war-zone deployment and death or injury. One survey showed such fears nearly doubling among respondents from 2000 to 2004." Karen Stadler, student guidance counselor for the Tuxedo High School, estimates that a military recruiter visits approximately once a month, which she says is much more frequent than in the past. Stadler says the school allows the military to administer to eleventh-graders, upon their request, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. She says this is a generic test to assess individual capability and is popular with students even if they are not interested in joining the military service. Only a few of the 95 to 100 Tuxedo graduates enter the military each year. Stadler isn't aware of any parents who have decided against permitting recruiters to interview their children. But not all parents are pleased with the recruiting policy. George D. Thurston's daughter, a senior at Monroe Woodbury High School, was recently called at home by a recruiter. Thurston is concerned about military recruiters "telemarketing" children and sees this policy as a major intrusion by the government. "Handing this information out to the government is not what I want for my child and I don't think other parents would either," he said. "Parents should review all policies with recruiters coming into schools." The City, a Rochester weekly newspaper, reported that a heated controversy has developed with the Fairport Central School District and the military recruiting policy of No Child Left Behind Act. The school district will not make student information made available unless a parent specifically requests the release of information. The military argues this is in effect amounts to an opt-in rather than opt-out policy. The school district is concerned with the possible loss of federal funding that may result from maintaining this policy but does not intend to change this approach.