JROTC Must Go! Campaign Heating Up

by Riva Enteen on May 30, 2008

The San Francisco chapter of the Green Party, the Chinese Progressive Association and the Idriss Stelley Foundation have joined the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the SF Tenants Union and the SF Bay View newspaper in saying that they “will look very closely” at the next School Board vote on JROTC, and “consider the votes carefully when making any endorsement for future candidates.”

These comments are aimed at two school board members, Green Party member Jane Kim and “progressive” Kim-Shree Maufas, who are the swing votes. Matt Gonzalez, former President of the Board of Supervisors, puts it even more bluntly. “I would not ever support a candidate for the Board of Education that continued JROTC and I would urge other progressives to do the same.”

Last Tuesday, May 27, a delegation of JROTC opponents met with Maufas.

Kiilu Nyasha, 69, our Black elder, began by talking about the blood that the US military has on its hands, and the corporate nature of US foreign policy. Nyasha then spoke of her son, raised in the Bayview, who studied martial arts to stay out of trouble, the epitome of the discipline JROTC claims to foster. We don’t need the military to teach our children discipline, she insisted.

Barbara Lopez, 29, who works with La Voz Latina of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic Youth Program, told of parents she works with who say Mission High staff are telling immigrant families that students must take JROTC to graduate.

Sabrina Davidson, a 21-year-old gay Black woman, expressed outrage that the school district allows the military to remain in our schools, even though they practice outright and illegal discrimination against gays and lesbians. She also made the point that she knows many youth who joined the military after JROTC because they couldn’t find any other jobs.

Forrest Schmidt, 31, a vet recruited out of high school, spoke of the pervasive racism in the military, sexist violence against female soldiers, and of the anti-gay hostility he saw and experienced. He said that the real alternative to JROTC would be a commitment to giving youth jobs and education.

Jackson Losh, 18, a Lowell senior, recalled the intimidation against JROTC opponents by JROTC cadets at previous School Board meetings, and said such constant intimidation makes it hard for students (and teachers) to speak out. He said that the military wouldn’t be spending money on JROTC if it didn’t produce recruits for the military.

Mara Kubrin, 18, who graduated high school last year, ended the meeting by giving Maufas a copy of an open letter she wrote to Maufas and Jane Kim. “JROTC is a recruitment tool,” Kubrin wrote, “so have the program at recruitment centers. If students are so insistent that this and only this program will provide the discipline, leadership, and family element that they want, then they can seek it out in their own time, using the military’s own funding, and on its own recruitment grounds. The military does not belong in our schools.”

Maufas did not indicate at the meeting whether or not she would vote to end JROTC now. We are waiting for her answer to this question.

Let Maufas and Kim know that they should join the 60% of San Franciscans who oppose the military in our schools. You can reach them at Maufasks@sfusd.edu and Kimj7@sfusd.edu.

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