No military recruit left behind

Daily Sundial

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The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a hotly contested piece of federal legislation. Its strict focus on educational accountability and test scores have been criticized by a number of politicians, and several states have gone so far as to sue the federal government or adopt legislation to protect themselves from its reach.

There’s much more at stake, however, than low test scores and individual states falsifying exam results to maintain federal funding.

As part of No Child Left Behind, all secondary schools that receive federal funding must hand over the contact information of its students to the Pentagon.

The only way for parents to avoid having their children’s personal information given to military recruiters is to sign an opt-out form, which says that the high school may not reveal a student’s information.

The Student Privacy Act, introduced by Congressman Mike Honda of California in February 2005, would change the No Child Left Behind provision to make the opt-out form an opt-in form, meaning that parents would need to go out of their way to keep their students on any list sent to the Pentagon. Members of Congress, including the San Fernando Valley’s Congressman Brad Sherman, are reviewing the Student Privacy Act.

With branches of the armed services missing their recruitment targets yet again, it’s clear why new recruits are important to future combat operations. As the war in Iraq drags on, seemingly without end, it’s important for the United States to have resources.

But this provision of No Child Left Behind seems desperately out of place in an education bill, and not much more than a cheap attempt to bolster U.S. military recruitment. Considering a Leave My Child Alone coalition has already formed, there is obviously something more to the opposition movement.

This coalition has been key in pushing the Student Privacy Act to Congress’ front doorstep, and when parents get pissed, phones start to ring.

It’s a bit of a difficult sell, but the coalition and many Student Privacy Act supporters say their opposition to the No Child Left Behind clause is not because of any anti-military sentiment. Many parents in the coalition say they support the troops.

They have qualms, however, with letting military recruiters contact their children, who are minors, without their permission. (Remember when the Republican leadership stood for minimal involvement in the lives of the average American?)

And for those parents not concerned with supporting the troops to make their point for the Student Privacy Act, there are concerns about the ethics of this No Child Left Behind provision. Is maintaining an opt-out policy not the least bit underhanded

In a conflict such as the war in Iraq, it’s important that all of our troops be recruited using the utmost honorable of methods. This is not an honorable way, and is more than a tad misleading. Because of this, we support the Student Privacy Act as well as our troops, and urge members of the campus community and Congressman Sherman to do the same.