An update on JROTC in San Diego Unified
On Aug. 7, the San Diego City school board approved the introduction of Marine Corps JROTC at Mission Bay H.S. No one gave testimony at this meeting in favor of MCJROTC, while six people, including an ex-principal who is also a Marine Reserve vet, gave testimony against it. Among other things, it was pointed out by a district teacher that a review of the curriculum had not been done to ensure that it would not violate state education code requirements.
After the testimony, none of the board members spoke except John de Beck, who gave his reasons for voting against MCJROTC. They then cast their votes, 4-1 in favor of MCJROTC (Nakamura, Acle, Jackson and Lee "for," de Beck "against").
Even before the board approved the program on Aug. 7, MBHS Principal Cheryl Seelos had included MCJROTC on the list of elective classes for students to choose during advance registration in the spring. JROTC had also been promoted in others ways, including on the electronic marquee in front of the school. JROTC instructors were interviewed and already selected.
At this point, Mission Bay HS students themselves are in the best position to oppose military training at their school. By encouraging their peers not to sign up for MCJROTC, they can deny the program the required 100-student minimum enrollment and force it out, just as students at Southwest HS once did in the Sweetwater District. One hurdle that might have to be overcome is the possibility that school staff will illegally place students in JROTC without their permission, an action that has occasionally occurred at some schools, including San Diego HS. (Calif. Education Code section 51750 says no secondary student shall be required to enroll in any course in military science and tactics.)
MBHS students will be reporting to the school to make final changes in their class schedules later this month. At that time, there may be leafleting and picket signs to educate students and parents and let them know that they do not have to accept involuntary placement in JROTC classes. A large majority of MBHS students are bussed to the school from other areas, with many coming from working-class communities. Anyone interested in participating in the leafleting should contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also, a meeting of students will occur in late August to discuss an organized campaign to boycott JROTC. Students who want to attend this meeting should contact Stephanie or Project YANO ( email@example.com ).
Only two remaining secondary schools in San Diego Unified are free of military training programs, both in relatively affluent parts of the city where students are under less pressure to join the military. For general information on high school JROTC, visit the Project YANO site or www.nnomy.org . Rick Jahnkow Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO) http://www.projectyano.org/