uk teachers kick military propaganda out of schools

A reader sent me this encouraging story from BBC News:
Teachers [in England and Wales] have voted to oppose military recruitment activities in schools if they employ "misleading propaganda".

Young people must be given a true picture of Army life, not a "marketised version", the National Union of Teachers conference heard.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) denies actively recruiting in schools but says it does visit to raise awareness when invited in by head teachers.

Some teachers complain the Army uses sophisticated methods of recruitment.

Paul McGarr, a teacher from east London, said only when recruiting materials gave a true picture of war would he welcome them into his school.

These would have to say: "Join the Army and we will send you to carry out the imperialist occupation of other people's countries," Mr McGarr said.

"Join the Army and we will send you to bomb, shoot and possibly torture fellow human beings in other countries.

"Join the Army and we will send you probably poorly equipped into situations where people will try to shoot or kill you because you are occupying other people's countries.

"Join the Army, and if you survive and come home, possibly injured or mentally damaged, you and your family will be shabbily treated."

Delegate from Lambeth, south London, Chris Kelly, said he was offered free teaching materials, which he only later discovered were from the MoD.

In the UK, the Ministry of Defence recruits surreptitiously. In the US, it's much more blatant.

Military recruitment on college campuses is a condition of receiving federal funds. The notoriously misnamed "No Child Left Behind Act" requires high schools to turn over students' private information to military recruiters. Families can opt-out, but do they even know the data collection is taking place?

And, as my war-resister friends always point out, you don't find military recruiters in high-income high schools. No one with a promising future needs the US military.

Groups like Leave My Child Alone, the Coalition Against Militarism in Schools and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors are trying to stem the tide.

Here is an excellent interview from "Democracy Now!" with John Cervantes, an organizer from Veterans for Peace who focuses on military recruitment in schools, and here is a recruitment-in-schools FAQ from the ACLU.

Canadian schools also see military recruitment, and Canadians are organizing against it.

The teachers' movement in the UK (through their union, of course) is an important development. There may be some similar teachers' movements on a local level in the US, but I haven't found any.

From everything I hear, American teachers can barely teach any more. All they can do is spoon-feed test-prep, as NCLB locks everyone into a ridiculous test-for-funds cycle. American schools are so pathetically underfunded, and American teachers so horribly overworked and underpaid, that if anyone had time for activism - especially activism that might jeopardize funds - it would be heroic indeed.

Thank you to Jessica for inspiring this post (and for reading this blog).

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