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imperialism & war

Portland Public Schools and the Military 320,000$ Starbase program

PPS Board meeting is about ready to get a whole lot of military funding to send kids for schooling (training) at/ on a military base. They will decide this at tonight at the board meeting.
Portland OR February 8, 2010 -

At its regular meeting tonight, the PPS Board will vote on whether to accept Resolution 4214, a $320,000 revenue contract for the Starbase program, an educational program funded by the Department of Defense. Students in Starbase get 25 hours of so-called science, math and technology instruction at local military bases. A growing number of Portland parents and community members strongly oppose the Starbase program, because it is used as a recruitment tool by the military and heavily targets low income youth. They are urging the Board to vote down this contract.

"We oppose the militarization of our children through a science curriculum," says Jessica Applegate, mother of two PPS students. "This program is funded out of the Department of Defense recruitment budget and takes place on military bases."

According to the Starbase Portland site: "The goal of the Starbase Portland Program is to raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at risk youth in math, science, and technology by exposing them to the technological environment and positive role models found on military bases and installations."

Nancy Rawley, questions how funds are used within the Starbase program. "Reportedly five PPS employees are being paid by the U.S. military to "administer" the Starbase program." says Rawley, the mother of two elementary school children. "That money would pay for a whole lot of microscopes and science supplies, wouldn't it?"

Carrie Adams thinks PPS is cooperating with the Department of Defense to racially profile students. "Students of color are disproportionately represented in their program," she writes in her education blog, "Cheating in Class". "The Portland schools participating in Starbase are schools with high percentages of minority students."

Applegate, Rawley, and Adams and others plan to continue to raise awareness about the Starbase program in Portland schools and call on all those concerned to write to the Board and Superintendent Smith to call for an end to the program.

A good curriculum, but without military softsell subtext 27.Feb.2010 01:29

Ethan Scarl, Ph.D.

I have no doubt that the curriculum has many features worthy of emulation, and that it catches young people's interest through attractive material in astronomy, rocketry, and robotics. For example, Portand StarBase's website:
has a "Links" link that points overwhelmingly to NASA sites, with a touch of OMSI - nothing military visible there! But StarBase is a military program, with the underlying motivation of selling militarism to impressionable young minds. I don't blame the program's designers for this - it's what they're paid to do. But it's our job to resist the lure of "easy money" - free curriculum content - and seek out healthier ways to present that material - through Public School curricula or through OMSI -- that does not carry the dangerous baggage of a glossy false image of life in the military.