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Military recruiting in schools

By Katie Deska
News staff
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05/27/2016 - Although few high school teens are eligible to enlist in the armed forces, federal law requires that the majority of secondary schools across the country provide military recruiters with the names, address, and phone numbers of students who have not exclusively requested otherwise. Throughout Oakland County, schools work to interpret that in a variety of ways.

Mandated since 2001, schools that receive funding through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and do not qualify under the religious objection to service in the armed forces, must comply with the federal regulation by issuing military recruiters with a list of directory information when they request it, and provide recruiters with the "same access to students" that the school gives to any other higher education institution and prospective employers. Failure to do so is grounds for denial of federal funds.

Section 9528 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended as NCLB, provides that schools must inform parents of the recruiting policy and notify parents of the right to opt-out of having their child's personal information distributed to recruiters for the armed forces. The way the law is written, opting in is the default selection, thus benefiting recruiters, placing the burden on the student/parent to take action on something they may stumble across only once in a jumbled stack of enrollment papers.

Rep. David Vitter (R-LA) sponsored the amendment to NCLB in 2001, which created the policy that mandates military recruiters receive access to student information. In summary, the amendment "requires any secondary school that receives ESEA funds to permit regular U.S. Armed Services recruitment activities on school grounds, in a manner reasonably accessible to all its students."

Each branch of the military is responsible for recruiting its own members, and, aiming to meet their annual recruitment goal, recruiters target high schools, among other venues.

Today, recruiters visiting high school campuses, and setting up a table in the cafeteria, is quite common. Yet, they were not always welcomed. In 1999, it was reported by the Pentagon that recruiters who requested access to schools were refused 19,228 times. In the 1990s, roughly one-third of American high schools denied recruiters access to student directory information and refused to let them reach students on the school grounds. Doing so made recruiting a more expensive, stressful and timely endeavor.

The Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion of the United States Army Recruiting Command, 3rd Brigade, is responsible for recruiting Michiganders in the Lower Peninsula to join the Army. Mark Czarnecki, chief of Army public affairs and advertising, based in Lansing, noted the Army seeks to fulfill 30 percent of its recruitment goal through high school seniors. Graduates are expected to fulfill the remaining 70 percent of the recruitment goal.

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