AFT Resolution

ENSURING THAT STUDENTS MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION REGARDING MILITARY SERVICE AND ROTC

WHEREAS, as educators, we commit daily to the flourishing of our students and work to ensure that they reach their full potential; and

WHEREAS, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandates that all high schools receiving federal funds must provide student contact information to military recruiters upon request, and must allow recruiters to have the same access to students that colleges and employers have; and

WHEREAS, the 1996 Solomon Amendment mandates that colleges will lose federal aid if they do not allow access to military recruiters; and

WHEREAS, more than 310,000 high school students are enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) and nearly 53,000 college students are enrolled in ROTC and are receiving military training; and

WHEREAS, according to congressional hearings, between 30 and 50 percent of graduating JROTC students go on to join the military; and

WHEREAS, ROTC graduates have a contractual obligation to serve in the military; and

WHEREAS, at a period when public services like healthcare and education budgets are facing serious cutbacks, the U.S. military spends billions of dollars on marketing to children through TV shows, infomercials, movies, musical videos, toys and video games; and

WHEREAS, while primarily targeting students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, military recruiters focus on the benefits and avoid mentioning the dangers of military service or criticisms of U.S. militarism; and

WHEREAS, ROTC instruction is written by the Pentagon and is standardized across high school and college campuses, and does not address the perils of military service or alternatives to wars; and

WHEREAS, the dangers of military service are well documented and include death, permanent injury, exposure to environmental toxins such as Agent Orange, witnessing or participating in war crimes, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual harassment and assault, higher rates of suicide and other problems;[1] and

WHEREAS, in the same way educators expose students to diverse perspectives on any issue, they should ensure that high school and college students are able to give informed consent when making decisions about military service, and therefore students need to be exposed to contending positions on whether to join the military:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers calls on school districts, colleges and universities to offer their students diverse views about military service and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, balancing arguments for military service and ROTC training with the arguments of critics of military service, including its health risks; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will make available existing high-quality curriculum guides with resources for teachers from the perspective of those who advocate for military service and those who oppose it (such as those provided by speakers from Veterans for Peace and counter-recruitment literature);[2] and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate that ROTC classes offered at institutes of higher education must be subject to the normal, faculty-governed course approval procedure like any other course at the institution prior to being offered for academic credit at colleges and universities.



[1] According to a Rand study, of the nearly 2.7 million Americans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, at least 20 percent have PTSD and/or depression (http://www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html); the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Invisible War portrays an epidemic of sexual assault and harassment of women and men in the military (http://invisiblewarmovie.com).

[2] Scott Harding and Seth Kershner, Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; Veterans for Peace website: https://www.veteransforpeace.org; and counter-recruitment resources from American Friends Service Committee: https://www.afsc.org/resource/counter-recruitment.

 

(2018)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.