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Should the Military Program JROTC Be in High Schools?

As JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps) enters its last (and ninetieth) year in San Francisco, a non-binding measure intended to show support for the program has qualified for the November ballot. Mayor Gavin Newsom backs the efforts to save the high school program. In 2006 the SF school board decided to stop JROTC, even though there were no complaints, mostly because they disagreed with the military's policy on gay and lesbian soldiers.

The stated purpose of JROTC is "to instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment." Many students across the country take the course as their physical education (PE) credit.

For arguments on both sides of the debate,


Arguable benefits of the program include self-discipline, teamwork, and confidence in young people who might need a boost. Critics, worried that JROTC could limit career opportunities, don't want underprivileged youth put on track for the military. But a very low number of JROTC students go into the military.

Since the program is voluntary and successful, I hope the school board reconsiders and allows parents and students to decide whether to participate. Also — JROTC gives young people who might never consider joining the military a chance to experience the benefits of civic duty at no risk. By taking away this choice, the "progressive" members of the school board betray their principles of openness.


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