- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2005

Recruiters seen

targeting poor

SEATTLE

A high school in Seattle has become the first in the United States to tell the military that it is no longer welcome on campus, because school officials say recruiters unfairly target poor inner-city teens.

“Who goes to fight wars? It’s not George Bush’s kids or senators’ kids or Donald Rumsfeld’s nieces and nephews,” said Amy Hagopian, co-chairwoman of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Garfield High School. “It’s poor kids who fight wars.”

Earlier in May, the PTSA passed a resolution that said: “Students should not be harassed by military recruiters. … The U.S. military should not recruit in public schools.”

Despite that, the school has no legal authority to keep recruiters off campus. Under federal law, all school districts are required to release the names and contact information of students to military recruiters.

The Supreme Court said earlier this month that it will consider whether the federal government can withhold funding from colleges that bar military recruiters.

“We offer a lot in terms of skill training and money for furthering education,” said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky. The United States has relied on an all-volunteer military since the draft ended in 1973.

Garfield is an inner-city high school in which one-third of the 1,600 students are black. The city is predominantly white and Asian.

Last week, more than 100 high school and college students protested at three military recruiting offices in Seattle.

The National PTA, based in Chicago, supports the Seattle group’s action. PTA President Linda Hodge said the resolution is a first step toward “holding lawmakers accountable to their communities.”

In September, the Army had 6,128 recruiters. By the first week of May, that number had risen to 7,545.

“One of the impediments to recruiting is the ongoing war on terrorism,” Mr. Smith said. “With physical dangers and the risk of death, recruiters have to spend more time and energy talking through what enlisting now holds for an individual and their families.”

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