January 15, 2010 Chicago Public Schools
Making Safer Schools: Demilitarizing Public Education
Researched and written by: Brian Galaviz, Jesus Palafox, Erica Meiners, Therese Quinn
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States voted in favor of the Declaration and agreed, with other signatories, to recognize and observe the rights it describes.
One section of the Declaration claims for children the rights to education directed at supporting the maintenance of peace:
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 2 of Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the U.S. signed but, with only one other country, has not ratified, addresses the involvement of children in armed conflict:
States Parties shall ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.
Chicago’s system of public education has moved far from these global commitments to offering children a safe, civilian and non-coercive learning environment.
1) Chicago is the most militarized public school system in the nation and approximately 10,670 students, 95% students of color, are enrolled in:
- 6 Military high schools, one representing each branch of the military—Air Force, Navy, Marines, and two Army schools.
- 45 Junior Reserve Training Officer Corps Programs within high schools
- 20 Cadet Programs in middle schools
2) JROTC has replaced content courses and counts for PE credit in grades 9, 10.
3) Taxpayers subsidize the militarization of schools.
CPS total expenditures on ROTC programs for the school year 2007-08 was $12,885,966.60. Out of this $12,885,966.60 CPS received $3,810,924.45 from the department of defense, leaving Chicago taxes payers an invoice of $9,075,042.15.
4) The JROTC program has smaller class sizes, lower standards for teacher qualifications and instructors receive higher levels of compensation As of November 2, 2010 no JROTC instructor is identified as a certified teacher on the Illinois State Board of Education website.. The 2009-2010 median salary for a JROTC instructor was $75,823.24. In addition to pay inequalities, JROTC instructors are also given preferential treatment regarding class size. CPS schools are mandated to subsidize at least two JROTC instructors, no matter how many students they have and one additional instructor for every 50 students. Legally, JROTC programs must have a minimum enrollment of 100 students or 10% of the student population, whichever is lower. However, this law is not always enforced. For example, there are eleven JROTC programs in CPS that do not meet this threshold. Of those eleven schools, six of them have three JROTC instructors. That means three instructors teach less than 100 students. CPS would be the best school district in the nation if all of our teachers were given this type of preferential treatment.
5) Youth and their parents support military programs because they view these programs as opportunities to provide discipline, safety, academic and leadership opportunities. These same opportunities can be delivered through arts, sports, drama, martial arts, music – programs that have been largely cut from urban schools. Only one restrictive enrollment school in Chicago has a military program, Whitney Jones High School, and this program does not meet JROTC enrollment requirements.
6) Military programs offer false pathways to college and other post secondary benefits.
Only 43% of Military Personnel has received their GI benefits and the Average Net Payout to Veterans is less than $2200
7) Military programs in schools actively recruit young people.
a) “In recognition of the growing importance of the JROTC program to recruiting for the military services, the conferees increased the requested funding for this program by $13.5 million. The increased funding will facilitate the expansion of the program undertaken by the Secretary of Defense." (emphasis ours)
b) Field trips and guest speakers center military life:
The cadets in Rickover Naval Academy, have taken a school-sponsored field trip to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD
two years ago, RNA hosted Admiral Michael Mullen, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen told the cadets that the "Navy was a great career choice."
c) A military, not civilian, culture permeates military schools.
Young people dressed in military uniform are introduced to the military hierarchy and way of life. This cultivation of a militarized mind is the best explanation for why “40-60% of all NJROTC [Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps] graduates enter military service.” This statistic is especially telling considering that less than 1% of the population has served in the military at any given moment since 1975.
8) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is still military policy, though it is legislated to be phased out by an unspecified date. The U.S. military is a persistent site of gendered and sexual violence.
2007 research identified that no Chicago public military high school supported lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students through the presence of a targeted student group, such as a Gay, Straight Alliance, although these clubs are common in many Chicago high schools.
We ask the CTU to:
Phase out JROTC programs and support the development of alternative programs to help foster discipline, leadership and college pathways for all students.
Until the phase-out is complete, The CTU should call for an immediate:
• Moratorium on the establishment of any new public military high schools, and JROTC and Cadet programs within schools.
• Cessation of public educational funding allocated to public military schools and programs targeted to discipline, leadership and safety development.
• End to JROTC as a Physical Education (PE) substitute.
• Halt to preferential treatment for JROTC instructors regarding class size and pay.
• Enforcement of JROTC laws, including shutting down under-enrolled programs.
• Development of visible support for LGBTQ teachers and students at public military schools.
In addition, we call on the CTU to:
• Implement a taskforce to investigate the working conditions at military schools and JROTC programs.
• Support the AFSC request to have the opt-out section included on the emergency forms
“House Armed Service Committee Press Release: Conferees Reach Agreement on Fiscal Year 2001 Defense Bill.” October 6, 2000. http://www.hqda.army.mil/rio/hconfpress.pdf
Segal, David R. Segal, Mady Wechsler. “America’s Military Population.” The Population Reference Bureau. http://www.prb.org/Source/ACF1396.pdf