- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2007

A group of Montgomery County parents and several peace groups plan to challenge the county school board tonight about its policy on military recruiters in schools, group leaders said.

They contend that military recruiters have better access to public school students than recruiters from other organizations.

Federal law states all recruiters should have equal access.

“We are not saying we think that they ought to have special rules for military recruiters,” said Pat Elder of Peace Action Montgomery and the 180-member parent group Montgomery Coalition on Recruitment Issues. “What we’re saying is we think they should abide by the law.”

County school spokesman Brian Edwards said federal law gives military recruiters access to high schools and the schools comply with the law. Mr. Edwards also said he could not respond to general accusations because the groups had not provided him with specific facts.

The groups will attend the school board’s meeting to raise such issues as military-recruiter access to school lunchrooms, Junior ROTC programs and military recruiting vans on school property. Members of the Montgomery County Coalition for Alternatives to War and the Equity in Education Coalition also will attend.

Mr. Elder, who said a recruiter for the Marines approached his daughter in a school lunchroom last week, said academic and corporate recruiters are allowed only to recruit from school guidance offices.

Mr. Edwards said the school system allows parents to request that their children’s contact information not be given to military recruiters and that most schools do not provide that option.

Kevin Zeese, executive director of Democracy Rising, said he will tell the board the Junior ROTC program is marketed to eighth graders, which the groups consider inappropriate.

“Parents want schools to be a military-free zone, not the center of recruiting activity,” he said. “The idea of reaching out to grab 12-year-olds is not going to be popular with very many people.”

Mr. Edwards said the program can be a valuable choice.

“For some families, these programs are a good option,” he said. “Do they want to take away that option for those families?”

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