The Portand School Board is NOT doing all that it can to protect students' privacy rights and to shield students and their families from overzealous and misleading recruiting practices by the Armed Forces. School board members have told us that military recruiting is not among the board's priority issues at this time. We think it should be, and we have repeatedly asked the school board to do two things.
First, we have asked for a clear and restrictive district-wide policy spelling out the "when and where" of military recruiter access on school campuses. So far, the school board has left decisions about recruiter access to the discretion of individual school principals, resulting in inconsistent and often inadequate protections for students. We expect military recruiters to further exploit these policy inconsistencies as time goes on.
Second, we have asked the school board to take a more pro-active approach to ensure that as many parents and students as possible assert their right to keep student records information private and confidential--and out of the hands of the military. The check-off boxes included on the student registration form comply with the law, but they do not go the extra mile to guard student privacy. For one reason or another, many parents are not even aware of the "opt out" option provided by federal law.
You can help by phoning the Portland School Board co-chairs and asking them to make these changes before the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year. Tell them that we want this issue placed on the agenda for the April 12th school board meeting. Call Lolenzo Poe at 503-988-5212 (work) or 503-284-7134 (home) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; call Julia Brim Edwards at 503-255-0938 (home) or email her at BrimEdwards@aol.com.
You are also encouraged to show up at the April 12th school board meeting beginning at 6:30 pm. at the Blanchard Educational Services Bldg., 501 North Dixon St., Portland. If you want to help pass out fliers, show up at 6 pm. If you want to make a statement to the school board, call in ahead of time and sign up for citizen comment, 503-916-3741. There will be no organized disruption of the meeting this time, but feel free to assert yourself if you feel so moved. The school board needs to hear from its constituency on this important issue.
John Grueschow, Coordinator of the Military & Draft Counseling Project
War Resisters League, Portland. 503-238-0605