September 16, 2003
NATIONAL "OPT OUT" DAY FOCUSES ATTENTION ON CONTROVERSIAL No Child Left Behind ACT
Los Angeles - On September 23, a coalition of peace, social justice, and counter-recruitment groups across the country are sponsoring National "Opt-Out" Day to call greater attention to the military recruitment provision of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act that was enacted last year. Attendees of the “Stopping War Where It Begins: Organizing Against Militarism in Our Schools” conference held last June of 2003 in Philadelphia, joined together to help educate and inform parents, teachers, and school administrators of the little known fact that, although the Act requires school districts to share students' names, addresses, an d telephone numbers with military recruiters, parents and students also have the right to "opt out" of having their private information released.
Many school districts around the country are either not aware of the Act and their legal obligations, or have chosen to not fulfill their mandate to allow "opting-out". As a result, many students and parents don't know about the provision or are discovering after the fact that military recruiters are in possession of their information.
In LAUSD, letters to parents of all 17-18 year olds were mailed on September 15, with a deadline of October 1 to turn in their Opt out forms. The United Teachers Los Angeles Human Rights Committee has developed a flyer for students, sent out letters to administrators, local union chapter chairs, and other interested teachers, student and community groups, in order to maximize the effort of educating students and parents of their right to withhold information from just the military, while still allowing it to go out to colleges and employers.
National "Opt-Out" Day also highlights such related issues as recruitment fraud, the true costs of JROTC and its recruitment connections, misinformation about the Delayed Enlistment Program, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery in public schools, which also provides the military with families' personal, private information.
National "Opt-Out" Day is an opportunity for both education regarding the law and a chance to help counter the growing, misleading portrayal of the U.S. military as a safe, beneficial and alternative jobs program.
There are many national, regional, and local organizations endorsing this day, including: the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC); LEPOCO (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern) Peace Center, Madison Area Peace Coalition, Young Adult Program: Not in Our Name; Pax Christi USA; Student Peace Action Network, United for Peace and Justice, and Voices in the Wilderness. For a full list of organizations that attended the Stopping War conference, please visit the conference website at: www.youthandthemilitary.org.
For more information or questions on National "Opt-Out" Day, contact the AFSC National Youth & Militarism Program at 215-241-7046, or the Madison Area Peace Coalition at 608-215-5605. Parents and high school students who wish to learn more about how to 'opt out' of having personal information given to military recruiters can also visit the AFSC web site at www.youth4peace.org. Local contacts are Arlene Inouye (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Andy Griggs (email@example.com), co-chairs of the UTLA Human Rights Committee.