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Stealth Recruiting

Stealth Recruiting

A week before school started this year, I noticed a small advertisement in my local newspaper. It was from my school district, and buried in the ad's fine print was an announcement that the local high school would be sending the names and phone numbers for all juniors and seniors to U.S. military recruiters.

This is more than a back-door assault on student privacy. It may have life-or-death consequences for unwitting kids who are contacted by recruiters.

This student information give-away was mandated in a little-known provision of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, President Bush's sweeping education law. The law went into effect in 2002, but many schools only became aware of the obscure military recruiting provision in the last year. Schools risk losing all federal aid if they fail to provide military recruiters full access to their students; the aid is contingent on complying with federal law.

This recruiting access provision is different from draft registration. Military conscription ended in 1973, but starting in 1980, 18-year-old males have been required to register for possible military call-up.

What does military recruiting have to do with education? Nothing. But it has everything to do with eliminating a community's ability to decide how it guards student privacy.

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