Privacy Act looks to curb high school recruitment

Daily Sundial

A piece of legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives could change a provision in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 that requires high schools to turn over their students’ contact information to military recruiters.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, high schools are required to provide military recruiters with students’ contact information. The amount of information provided to military recruiters depends on what information the schools request from students.

If a school fails to provide the military with the information, federal funding can be withheld.

Parents who do not want their children’s information disclosed to recruiters can choose to opt out by providing a written request to the school. Parents must submit their opt-out form by the Oct. 21 deadline.

The Leave My Child Alone coalition educates parents and students nationwide about the methods military recruiters use to get information about students.

The campaign programs events in major cities, including Los Angeles. According to the group, more than 18,000 students have been opted out.

A group spokesperson said one of the major problems with the current opt-out policy is that not a lot of parents know about its existence.

“A lot of parents don’t know about it, (and) that’s the problem,” said Julie Pezzino, spokesperson for Leave My Child Alone.

“The real situation is that you’re required to inform parents, but it doesn’t say how.”

The Student Privacy Act, introduced to the House by Rep. Mike Honda of California’s 15th district in February 2005, would change the language of the No Child Left Behind Act to make the opt-out policy an opt-in policy. Leave My Child Alone supports the Student Privacy Act.

If turned into law, parents would have to give their permission in the form of a signed opt-in form before recruiters could contact students.

The Student Privacy Act, or HR 551, was referred to committee in Congress, and supporters are looking to get the legislation back on the agenda following the end of summer recess.

Also recently, U.S. Congressmember Brad Sherman, who represents the Northridge area, agreed to study HR 551, according to a release from Valley Grassroots Democracy.

Discussion about the Student Privacy Act comes after recent announcements that U.S. military recruiters have faced difficulty in reaching monthly recruiting targets, including missed targets in April and May, according to reports.

Martin Saiz, political science professor, said he sees the Student Privacy Act as a potentially good change.

“There should be rules and there should be limits,” he said.

Samantha Rich, junior deaf studies major, said the military’s recruiting tactics do not bother her.

“Most of them are nice, so it’s no big deal,” she said. “I have no problem (with) it. They are just doing their job.”

Saiz said he worries that signing bonuses may cause recruiters to unethically persuade students to sign up.

“I’m against it if they use unethical tactics and give false promises,” he said.

Oscar Areliz can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.