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Troop Or Consequences?

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006 12:51 PM

The decision by the San Francisco School Board to drop the JROTC program is shortsighted at best, and mistakes military discipline for the politics and policies of the Bush Administration.

"We need to teach a curriculum of peace," said Nancy Mancias, a former teacher.

Oh, please. It's not like these kids are being taught how to handle fully-loaded M16s and throw hand grenades. JROTC is designed to provide leadership skills, discipline, and encourage academic excellence.

"I think people should not despair too much," says board member Mark Sanchez. "I think now the work begins – to work within the community to develop new programs that will fulfill the needs of our students."

In other words, they're dumping JROTC, but haven't given any thought to offering anything that will replace it. And God save us from the well-meaning but horribly vague phrase, 'the needs of our students.'

Oh, but wait – it's the military's fault. They don't belong in our schools. Fine. Let's fire every teacher who served in the military. Let's rename all of our schools so they don't honor military officers or personnel. Let's no longer teach American History, because it's filled with all that military stuff. And, of course, we can remove the American Flag from all classrooms and school grounds, because, like, it gets used by the military.

And the military's discriminatory stance on gays also makes JROTC unacceptable. Haven't we learned our lesson? We declined to homeport the USS Missouri for the same reasons, and the Bay Area got hammered by base closures. Families moved out, and it trashed the economy for cities like Alameda and Vallejo.

Let us also remember that there are other organizations that hold similar views; are we going to ban the Boy Scouts from assembling on school property? Should we perform some kind of moral litmus test to make sure students aren't harboring some kind of prejudice? Women, too, have been discriminated against by the military – it took years for them to be allowed in combat; they fought for the right and won. We have 'religious' groups protest against gay and lesbian rights – where is the outrage over these people and their views?

"We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions," said Sandra Schwartz, representing a group that opposes the JROTC nationwide. "In a healthy democracy … you contain the military. You must contain the military."

If you haven't noticed, Ms. Schwartz, we're quite capable of ruining our civilian institutions without the military. Go check out Washington, D.C.; there's a bunch of decidedly non-military folks over there who have broken the law and violated the Constitution. One of them has a record five deferments from military service, and another can only prove that he showed up for a dentist's appointment.

As for containing the military, again, we are not facing some horrible mass indoctrination of our students. We are not endangered or at the mercy of an overfunded, overstaffed force dictating our way of life.

The school board talks of 'the needs of our students,' but has no plan for providing anything. How does that make sense? Show me the funding. Show me a plan. Show me results in grades or performance for students participating in other extracurricular programs.

But don't cut a program and promise me something that you haven't even thought about.



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