Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Junior ROTC Controversy
The San Francisco School Board voted three years ago to banish the Junior ROTC program from public high schools and the teenagers who were in the program fought back.
P.E. classes are sheer torture for some teenagers, either because they're shy or uncoordinated or geeky and prone to bullying.
The JROTC program has long been a perfectly viable way to get out of that torture.
Though every ethnic group in the world seems to be represented in the program, from what I've observed of the San Francisco program, the group is over 90% Asian American. It probably feels like a welcoming, structured club.
Plus, they get to wear cool uniforms and march and play musical instruments while getting exercise. What's not to like?
Its detractors point to the program as an insidious recruiting tool of the military but in San Francisco, 95% of the JROTC students go on to college rather than joining the service. It's poor Hispanic and black students who make up a disproportionate share of military recruits out of high school, which is really where peace activities should be putting their focus.
Tuesday evening at the school district headquarters on Franklin Street, the JROTC students finally won in a 4-3 vote by the school board, and the program was reinstated just weeks before it was set to expire for good.
I hope to see them in yet another parade in Civic Center soon.