MEDIA WATCH: Are major national newspapers pushing JROTC, military high schools on Chicago model?

If a reader wants to know the editorial opinion of today's "news" papers, the best place to learn is by carefully tracing the "news" that appears on Page One and the biases inherent in the news selection itself.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, (then) Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, and Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan salted the flag during ceremonies dedicating Chicago's first "Marine Corps" high school on October 17, 2007. The Marine school, which was located inside a building that had once housed the U.S. Grant Elementary School, became the sixth military high school in Chicago (four Army; one Navy; in 2007 the USMC) at the time. The following year, on the recommendation of Arne Duncan, the Chicago Board of Education approved the seventh military high school, run in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force. By the time Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education in January 2009 by President Barack Obama (and Rahm Emmanuel became White House Chief of Staff), Chicago had created the largest Junior ROTC program in the USA and had created, for the first time in history, a group of public schools which were operated in conjunction with the various branches of the Armed Forces. The military schools, like Chicago's charter schools, received enhanced funding making them better able to compete for students with the city's dwindling number of general high schools. At the October 2007 event, Congressman Emmanuel bragged that he had gotten a million dollar "earmark" specifically for the Marine Military Academy High School in Chicago. Chicago clout also enabled the school to get an estimated $30 million from the State of Illinois (via the "Illinois Facilities Fund") to convert what had once been a large elementary school into a two square block "campus" to house the Marine Military Academy High School and a second military high school ("Phoenix — Army — Military Academy High School). Substance photo by George N.. Schmidt. It became obvious by the end of 2009 that at least two of America's major newspapers had decided that Junior ROTC was a very good thing. Both the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times ran articles praising Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs during the final days of 2009. While Chicago's vast expansion of militarism in the city's public schools during the first decade of the 21st Century is not explicitly on the agenda of former Chicago CEO and current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, it reads like the ground is being prepared for a national expansion of JROTC similar to the expansion of JROTC and "military high schools" that Chicago saw during the eight years (2001 to 2008) Arne Duncan was in charge of Chicago's public schools.

If part of "Race to the Top" becomes expanded JROTC and "military" public high schools across the USA, readers heard if first on New Year's Day in Substance.

Below here is the contribution from The New York Times:

More students turning to Junior ROTC programs, By Jordan Schrader - Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times via Gannett News Service (Thursday Dec 31, 2009 8:25)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Before enrolling in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Asheville High School, William Michaels says he struggled to keep his anger under control.

Now, the high school senior says, he doesn’t get in trouble much anymore, thanks to leadership skills shaped by Junior ROTC. He spends much of the school day — plus hours after school, some weekends and part of summer vacation — in the building where program students work out, hit the books and shoot air rifles.

“It’s more than a class. It’s like a giant support group,” says Michaels, 17.

An increasing number of teenagers are getting early exposure to military life through their high schools. Enrollment jumped 5 percent this year to 513,297 students in Junior ROTC programs, according to combined Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force statistics. That far outpaced the program’s growth from 2005 to 2008, those statistics show.

The growth is driven in part by the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, which directed the Pentagon to add high schools to the program. The goal was to have 3,700 programs by 2020. There are about 3,400, according to combined military statistics.

Students may soon be able to get involved even younger. A program modeled on the Army’s Junior ROTC program is due to start up next fall as a pilot in three yet-to-be named middle schools, says Col. John Vanderbleek, the Army program’s director.

Teens struggling through a physically and emotionally turbulent time in their lives find help in discipline and the influence of military-trained instructors, Vanderbleek says.

“You give them some structure,” he says. “Maybe it’s just the uniform — one day a week they have to wear the uniform, or they have to be accountable to be at the right place at the right time in the right dress.” Gene Bottoms, an education researcher who has visited hundreds of high schools, agrees. Participants seem to become more disciplined in their studies and more focused on goals, says Bottoms, director of the High Schools That Work program at the non-profit Southern Regional Education Board.

“The pride that these students display when you go in the schools who are in these programs is just amazing. You read it on their face. They walk with a certain confidence,” Bottoms says.

Cristina Gonzalez, 18, yelled out commands as her unit marched in its first drill competition. The Navy JROTC program at Grossmont High School in El Cajon, Calif., opened three months ago and has 167 students, says Chief Flor Buncab, one of the unit’s two staff members.

“It already is making a difference in my life,” Gonzalez said. “It’s helping build my leadership. Like before, I had it, but I never demonstrated it.” Gonzalez, a senior, has become the lieutenant commander of her battalion.

Apart from new units, enrollment may be on the rise partly because of a cutback in other after-school activities as schools cope with falling tax revenue, Air Force JROTC Deputy Director Greg Winn says.

Unlike other school groups, JROTC has the funding of the Pentagon behind it, allowing it to add schools such as Grossmont.

Gonzalez says she is deciding among the Navy, other branches of the military and college. But the group isn’t a recruiting tool, says J.D. Smith, director of Navy JROTC. Its goal is to cultivate good citizens.

“Our mission is public service, not necessarily military service,” Smith says.

Smith credits the uptick in new members to an increase in patriotism and civic pride.

Not all programs are growing.

The Marine Corps recently threatened to pull funding for schools such as Asheville High with less than the legal minimum enrollment for Junior ROTC units: 100 students or 10 percent of the student body. Maj. Ron Capes says his Asheville High unit — which has 59 students, down from 78 last year — is typical of units in Buncombe County, N.C., in seeing declines over the past decade. Worry about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars may be partly to blame, he says.

The Chicago Tribune's December 28, 2009 JROTC article is below here:

Navy Junior ROTC program: East Aurora High School has nation's largest unit, One cadet joined after older brother was killed in Iraq: 'I became a better person', By Margaret Ramirez, Tribune reporter, December 28, 2009, aurora-njrotc-28-dec28,0, 202339.story,

After seeing a presentation on the Navy Junior ROTC program at East Aurora High School, Juan DeLaTorre saw a possible path to a better life.

Then, a few days later, on April 16, 2007, when his older brother, Jesse DeLaTorre, was killed in Iraq, his decision was sealed. Juan became a Navy Junior ROTC cadet to escape the temptation of the streets and to honor his brother's memory.

"When I was an eighth-grader, a lot of my friends were involved in drugs and gangs, and I was getting too close to that," said DeLaTorre, 16, now a junior at East Aurora. "When I joined ROTC, I became a better person. It helped me a lot."

DeLaTorre is one of more than 638 cadets in East Aurora's successful Navy Junior ROTC program. In 1995, the program started with just 30 cadets, and by 2005, there were more than 500.

This September, more than 300 freshmen volunteered for the program, making it the largest Navy Junior ROTC unit in the nation.

While the growth of East Aurora's program parallels the nation's continuing war in Iraq, school officials and student cadets said the reasons for the program's popularity run deeper than patriotism and are more closely related to socioeconomic status, tough family situations and students' aspirations.

In East Aurora, where many students come from financially strapped immigrant families, where the pull of gang life and drugs is real, the program offers an opportunity to change lives.

"Part of the success of this program is it literally takes people off the streets," said Lt. Commander Darryl N. Person, a retired naval officer who heads the program.

"We have after-school ROTC programs, we have color guard, drill team, academic teams, physical training teams. All those things to keep them active and engaged, so that the street does not pull them in. They see this as an opportunity or steppingstone to something greater."

However, some education experts have expressed concern with the explosive growth of Junior ROTC programs in schools with predominantly low-income Latino and African-American students. At East Aurora, for example, the student population is 84 percent Latino, 8 percent black and 5 percent white, with the Navy Junior ROTC program mirroring that ethnic breakdown.

In the neighboring West Aurora school district, where 44 percent of students are Latino and 34 percent are white, there is no ROTC program.

"Most of these programs are located in poor or low-income Latino and African-American communities," said Pauline Lipman, a policy studies professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago's College of Education. "So we have to ask: If the programs are so great, why aren't they in white affluent communities too?"

Other critics of ROTC programs argue they are recruitment vehicles for the military. But Person said that was a misperception. He said the program emphasizes discipline, scholarship, citizenship and community service with the goal being college.

"Even though it's military-based, this is not a recruiting arm for the military," Person said. "What we push is going to college. That's our emphasis. Please go to college."

The school does not keep statistics on how many graduates enlist in the service. However, Person said several East Aurora program graduates have joined the military. Three of them, including Jesse DeLaTorre, died in Iraq.

Linda Oceguera, 17, a senior cadet commander who plans to attend college to study criminal law, disagreed with the claim that the military might be taking advantage of Latino and African-American youths. Oceguera said some Latinos might join ROTC as a way to establish their place in society.

"We want to show pride in our nationalities. In the past, we've been discriminated against and seen as minorities. We want to say, 'Hey, we're just as good as everybody else. We're Americans, we're born here and ... we're able to do good and make a difference in this world.' "

Though several high schools have Navy Junior ROTC programs, East Aurora stands apart because the unit has its own building, which is shared by the National Guard on weekends. The building holds three classrooms, a gym and an indoor shooting range -- a prized feature that few Illinois high schools have.

Naval instructors and cadets said the East Aurora program's popularity has grown because of its stellar performance in national drill and color guard competitions.

Another reason for the unit's growth is that many students such as Juan DeLaTorre learn about the program from older siblings and become inspired to follow in their footsteps.

The program at East Aurora is a daily class that is a substitute for physical education. On Wednesdays, cadets are required to wear uniforms for inspection and take part in military drills to learn salutes and proper behavior in uniform.

"This is where the discipline comes in," said George Allen, a program instructor.

Pho Le, a senior cadet captain, said the program gave him a sense of belonging that he had been searching for. While he credits his parents with supporting him, Le said he found a second family in the ROTC unit that motivated him in a different way.

"It's like a brotherhood. They take care of you. You have fun with them. We go eat after drills. It's like basically a new family," he said. "They took me in as their own son, and I love them. I love every single one of them."

Upon graduation in June, Le said he would enlist in the military because he didn't want to place any financial burden on his parents.

DeLaTorre said he knew several students who joined the program because they lacked family support at home.

"Everybody needs to be loved and cared for. Everybody needs to hear congratulations and be able to be proud of yourself. And some people don't get that from their parents or anybody else. ROTC just gives it to you," he said.


January 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM

By: Al Korach

Retired Teacher --Retired Military

Whenever I write an article regarding the military I know for sure that soon many responses will follow. These responses do not take into account what the real point of my article tries to say. So here I go trying again. No I am not a recruiter.

As a basic premise we in a democracy have a right of choice as long as it does not interfere with the rights of other citizens. This is a generalization but so is the interpretation of many of our rights. I firmly believe that a student has a right to become a teacher, mechanic or to voluntarily join a ROTC group. I also believe that a teacher or anyone has a right to join a labor union.

Many are attaching the global mess we are in to the military. We are in so many places, some of which I never heard of. The Congress of the United States and the President dictates military action. In short I go where I was told to.So, if you are not happy with the actions overseas with the military stopping the ROTC will not change a thing. The neighborhood gangbangers and thugs will soon replace your locl ROTC after you drive them out.

It is no secret that our schools are a mess both academically and operationally. Instead of bitching about a voluntary system that appears to be working come up with an alternative solution. I feel that the number of children killed in or around school is increasing day by day.Stopping ROTC may possibly increase the violence and loss.

As a retired military officer (Lt. Col.) the army taught me discipline, respect for authority, value of an education and most of all it atught me to not show up a job interview with jeans one inch above my pubic area. I feel our present foreigh policy is wrong and will only cause more heartaches. Your target if you oppose our present military actions is our civilian elected government and not the ROTC.

January 3, 2010 at 12:44 PM

By: SoloFlyer

CPS Employee

Hi Al. You are not alone in your defense of ROTC programs, but my emphasis would be broader in nature. I believe that any kind of service to our communities and our country provides great personal and civic growth. I served as an officer in the Army reserves AND spent three years in the Peace Corps, and while those two sevices may seem inherently contradictory, they actually were compatible in serving my nation and opening my personal world to the greater good. I would love to see mandatory national service of any kind so that we all feel ownership of this wonderful country.

January 3, 2010 at 12:46 PM

By: John Whitfield

ROTC in Urban America

With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one could point out how these ROTC programs go in lieu of having a draft,

like there was during the American War in Viet Nam. And it doesn't end with an overabundance of ROTC programs in the poorest schools of Chicago, and the more working class suburbs like Aurora.

Military recruiters are present on these same campuses, as well as others.

A parent during report card pick up a couple of years ago was furious, as the Marines had signed her senior up for the military at school, and was soon knocking on their door at home.

The good news is that counter, and alternative recruitning movements are sprouting up. IVAW (Iraq Veterans against the War) has been reaching out to the labor movement both here and in Iraq.

January 3, 2010 at 2:10 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

I would be more inclined to support ROTC and the military if I saw the children of wealthy parents in the programs/in the service. Throughout history, it has been minorities and the poor that have died while the wealthy just get wealthier.

No high school student should be recruited without making sure that the parents are aware and give their consent.

January 3, 2010 at 2:52 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Rich man's war, poor man's fight?

Back in the early days of the Vietnam War, one of the chants was "Rich man's war, poor man's fight." The main thing that's changed is it's now "Rich men and women's war, poor men and women fight..."

The class-based draft has always been effective. I considered going to West Point when I was finishing high school in 1963-1964 back in Linden, New Jersey because my family didn't have enough money for college. Secular scholarships solved that issue for me, but not for most of my friends from Linden and Elizabeth. My best friend from high school, a strong but gentle guy named Maurice, went into the Marines (as did many of those of us who lifted weights, wrestled, and otherwise fancied ourselves in shape back then) telling me that when he got out he would be able to afford college so he could fulfill his dream and become a veterinarian. (His dog was named "Hercules", which was also his favorite movie; he really wanted to cure animal ailments for the rest of his life).

He made it as far as Danang and was dead before he reached the age of 21. His name's on The Wall. Others from back there back then faced the same choices. One wound up a POW for more than seven years. All from the same high school(s) and sports and swimming dreams.

I got lucky to have the time to consider my choices.

So by the time I arrived in front of Local Board #43 (Elizabeth, New Jersey) to explain (in 1968, after Maurice was long dead) why I had chosen to apply for the status of conscientious objector, the conversation was civil. After all, every member of the draft board knew someone in my family as a "hero" from World War II. My father and all his brothers had been in the Armed Services (as they called it then) most of them in the Army infantry, the hard way to do a war. My mother also saw, a few feet away, her share of combat with an evacuation hospital on the island of Okinawa during the six-month-long "battle" that still sends shivers down the spines of people who hear the name of that beautiful island. All her war did was leave her, an Army nurse, with PTSD -- which didn't have a name then -- until she finally ended the nightmares with her death in 1984. It was harder then for women who were that close to combat, because in those days the VFWs were really men's clubs. Nobody noticed my mother's nightmares except my father, who probably had his own from 244 days "in the line" with the 44th Infantry Division in the ETO. They taught me patriotism and pride, but they also taught me, every day, that war is hell. And that was in the day when lots of kids were handing on every word from John Wayne's scriptwriters.

So my draft board couldn't quite get around to calling me a Commie for being their first CO. When I showed up, they had their manuals out reading the law. They had never seen one before -- let alone the son and nephew of a bunch of VFW heroes and an Eagle Scout to boot.

So I still carry that card that reads "1-O" in red letters, which they stamped across the front. For the next several months after that long meeting with my draft board I had to explain to every friend, neighbor and relative in Union County, New Jersey, why I did "that." It was worth the experience. And whenever we are back in New Jersey, we can still find the World War II service plaque across the street from St. Michael's Church in Elizabeth, with the names of all those Schmidts on it -- including Mary Lanigan Schmidt" and Neil G. Schmidt. Last time I was there it was overgrown with weeds.

It wasn't until after I did my C.O. thing in Elizabeth that the anti-war movement discovered places like South Boston, Linden, or Bridgeport (Chicago). We were from the places where the recruiters were filling their quotas as the draft ground on. Remember: you "enlisted" in the Navy, Air Force or Marines so they wouldn't draft you into the Army; something like that.

The simple privilege of college was the first great sorting machine, all based on economic class. The head of Selective Service in those days, Lewis Hershey (a general and also a Hershey heir) said it best: I was called "Channeling." We were channeled into the war. Cheney and others, wherever.

Not much has changed since my friend Maurice O'Callaghan became a KIA (USMC) less than two years after he finished high school with the dream of being a dog doctor, if only he could have made it to the day we would collect the G.I. Bill (which was much more real in those days).

It was never for lack of patriotism that many of us from those patriotic centers of the USA opposed that war -- and these. The game was rigged, and we knew it then. It's still rigged, and most kids know it now.

How would that phrase go today?

Rich person's war?

Poor person's fight?

I just have a hunch that the traders on the trading desks at Goldman Sachs and down the street from them have found that, like Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Dick Cheney they had "other priorities."

The kids from places Bruce Springsteen wrote about in "Born in the USA" didn't have those "choices." Which is why I went from my draft board to "G.I. Counseling" (see "Sir No Sir" for some of the flavor of what we did) and why I still watch that Academy Award Winning movie that features my home town and one of my Boy Scout buddies ("Hearts and Minds") wondering...

And remembering...

Happy New Year to everyone who made if from 1960 to 2010. Let's never forget that many of "us" didn't.

January 3, 2010 at 8:08 PM

By: Al Korach

Retired Teacher, Redtired Military, Union Member

As I said in my previous opening statement, " As soon as I write an article regarding the military I know for sure the responses will follow." I did not expect a long dissertation that did not deal with the real issues as stated. The dissertation covered the draft, Viet Nam, the blogers conscientious objector's status and other extraneous but important issues. My issue to be delt with is simple. In our democratic constitutional society has a student the right to join a ROTC unit? This is a basic issue in a democratic society. The military is still an honorable profession as is the role of the citizen soldier. I'll defend your right to be a conscientious objector but you have to see my right to be a member of a voluntary enlisted ROTC unit. I you do not approve of our foreign policy take up that issue with our government not with the local ROTC.The local ROTC does not make foreign policy.

January 3, 2010 at 10:40 PM

By: Jim Vail

ROTC should be targeted

However Al, ROTC is playing a major role in replacing a regular public education with a military education. Our federal government is channeling funding into military education in liu of properly funded public education.

You're right, though, people have a choice. To make a good informed choice, they should know the pros and cons. When our wonderful soldiers fought to end fascism in World War II, people rightfully signed up. When people were running from Vietnam, they were hunted down and called criminals for opposing a war on a third world country who did absolutely nothing to the people sent over to fight it — ditto Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. today.

The proof in the pudding is looking at Senn High School and the community's opposition to the Naval Academy replacing the general high school — it's disgusting to see how much money is showered on the cadets at the expense of the civilian population.

So yes, let's fight the lousy civilian government we have spending billions to send our young to possibly die for God knows what today, while millions are losing their jobs.

But let's also show the facts about ROTC programs that basically funnel the poor into these wars, despite good reasons to enter and serve our country. They need to make an informed choice before they choose to serve this country militarily.

January 4, 2010 at 7:08 AM

By: Al Korach

Retired teacher retired military

I'm hoping that this blog will have a future including, "spell check."

It is interesting to note that the ROTC "situation" drew more bloggers than items related to our school system. It didn't suprise me. I also received a call telling me to, "Put up or shut up." It's exactly what I asked other bloggers to do. Give me an alternative program or solution to help stop the killing in the good old USA other than killing the ROTC program.

Let me start by agreeing that an abnormally high proportion of our armed forces is born by minorities. In times of high unemployment and technology replacing jobs where are they to go? As usual there is always room in the regiment.

Although there are a number of solutions let me go with the one that's most practical. If you want to stop overseas ventures and fiascos start with reinstalling the draft. When the national power brokers, wives and mothers see it is now their kids turn along with the welfare mothers kids to serve there will be a closer look at our foriegn policy.

It will not be an easy solution if one looks at what it has taken to get a national health bill. I feel we had better get going before we end up in Yemen.

I have to say to George, Jim, Margaret, John and Soloflyer we are not that far apart. As I continue to say,"A student in our democratic society has a right to join the ROTC AS LONG AS IT IS VOLUNTARY. Now it's 6:30 AM and I no longer have to go to school. Watch our pension fund.

January 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher/parent

Al, I do agree that in many ways we are not that far apart. I actually considered the military when I was younger but my disabilities made me ineligible. I thought it would be a good way to be able to retire at a young age and then pursue another career like teaching so I could collect a double pension.

I am not opposed to free choice but I am just concerned that in many cases too much pressure is put on young people to join and they can't really make an informed decision.

January 6, 2010 at 6:57 PM

By: bob



If you know what that means then you are a real Boomer.

I learned of it one cold day in January 1967 when the orthopedic

Surgeon twisted my knee in the center located at 615 W Van

Burien , another Boomer Icon, and told me no more ROTC ,or the draft.

Fact is my total military career consisted of Military Science

101.Our gaggle of 8 cadets ,and the CPD sergeant / cadet

himself/ drill instructor did fix real bayonets to real M1 rifles and dislodge some fools

by a fence who were getting ready to pummel the sarge with bricks.

But the things overlooked in this discussion are the positive

experiences ,and more important the structure ROTC can give to

kids. A good officer is worth their weight in gold. The Armed Forces

counter gang influences in a lot of communities. I do not see how

voluntary ROTC could hurt anyone.

We sure scared the hell out of the rowdies by the fence who took

Off like rabbits.

January 7, 2010 at 3:31 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

1Y = 4F but...

Well, half the "Boomers," at least.

In those days, female Americans were not subjected to the draft, so "1Y" was not part of the lexicon and fate was not determined at 615 W. Van Buren St.

One of the interesting things about those years was how few men who went through 615 W. Ven Buren, came out 1-A, and went through to DEROS wound up teaching in CPS. At one point, we tried to do a story for Substance about those men, but there were very very few. The ranks had closed and seniority had solidified before the "boomers" who heard the real time booms were back and ready to take on the challenges of Chicago's inner city classrooms.

Just a fact of history.

My card is stamped "1-O", which was unprecedented back where I came from back in that year. They asked me whether I would take a "1-A-O" and when I said "Yes," they said "Are you kidding?" but I wasn't. Then they caucused (again) and said there was no way, given the history and philosophy I had just shared with them they wanted Elizabeth, New Jersey, represented by me there, as 'I-A-O' or '1-A."

My point, then and now, is that warriors are utilized by their nation to kill other people. Ultimately, every military job is either pointing the spear or pushing the spear into someone. Even military medicine and psychology are dictated by the needs of the "mission." At its best (and at it's best it's very good) military medicine is also dedicated to the eternal repair of the bodies and souls of those warriors who come back broken forever. It's dangerous for a nation to neglect those it broke in that way, but since the Civil War, the USA has had a habit of "underfunding" the VA (of its time) as soon as the battles are over and everyone is safely back in the marketplace and demanding lower taxes, etc., etc., etc. Coxey's Army. The Bonus Army. Walter Reed two years ago. There is always a budget for the front end of the spear and never enough for what happens in the souls and bodies of the spearers down the road...

My parents taught me all about that spear, and supported me when I said it would take a much better reason than "we" were giving (in the mid-1960s) for Vietnam.

And, funny thing about it, every man of my father's generation who grilled me on my unprecedented decision after that -- every one of them a combat veteran of World War II -- understood precisely what I was talking about, without metaphor or poetry. It was etched in their memories, either because they had actually done their own killing or had watched someone they knew killed because someone else had done his job from the "other side."

My Dad once told me that the proudest he was in 1945 was when they watched those endless lines of Germans surrendering (you can see the pictures, the most incredible of which were after the surrender in the Ruhr Valley).

When I asked him why, he told me simply and without emotion: "If they hadn't surrendered, we would have had to kill a lot of them."

That was one of the most powerful reasons why so many of us (and I was part of that "us") were appalled by the method the USA came up with to keep score in Vietnam (and since, in some ways) the body count.

You don't win wars by paying every butcher's bill.

But by destroying the enemies' (that's a deliberate plural) armies. Surrender. Physical destruction. Mutiny. Desertion.

Each is as effective as the others if it takes those pins off the map.

And any time anyone -- even the latest generation of Whiz Kids, or, as David Halberstam wrote, "The Best and the Brightest" -- tells you there is another version of that, it's time to say, simply, "No."

January 7, 2010 at 5:20 AM



George!! Even those that write for Substance can be together on certain topics and apart on others. I have just read another of your dissertations that again does not cover the basic issue regarding the ROTC. As usual you have clouded the issue by covering the Armed Forces Physical Examination Center, (615 W Van Buren) military medicine, general psychology, the VA, the bonus army, use of spears, Vietnam, WWII, your CO status. the Ruhr Valley, mutiny, desertion, and author Halberson. BUT! YOU HAVE NOT COVERED THE BASIC QUESTION I ASKED, "DOES A STUDENT IN A DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY HAVE A RIGHT TO VOLUNTARILY JOIN AND SERVE IN A ROTC UNIT? You can't have it both ways.

January 7, 2010 at 9:23 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Camouflaged coercion is what Chicago is doing -- and calling it

Al, with all due respect, you're making the boss's argument for him, and you know the answer is as close as your own back yard.

Show me one other city or suburb in America where the public general high schools have been sabotaged and then a separate system of "military (public) high schools established (at great expense) and you'll win your argument about "choice."

Otherwise, "choice" is cynical and (in my opinion) obscene in the context we're looking at here. It was similar (but not the same in its level of cynicism) 40 years ago when young working class men and women faced the "choices" forced on us by the draft, and that's why the history lesson is relevant.

For the past ten years, Substance has documented the fact -- fact -- that Chicago has limited choice by undermining the general high schools and creating the military high schools (as well as the charter high schools) with more resources. The result was that more and more students are forced by limited choices to attend "military high schools." No other city has any -- let alone six. Nobody in Chicago voted to have Chicago establish this separate school system (in most of Florida, six high schools would make a substantial school system). It was done on orders of the mayor, with huge subsidies from the federal government.

At the same time, Chicago has deliberately sabotaged the general high schools, where most of the kids would have gone. The families are then given the "choice" of trying to get their kids into the schools that might (for a time) be safer.

I've reported that for ten years, as have others.

This isn't "choice."

By any measure, it's a dirty trick being played on thousands of people.

If Chicago had taken responsibility to maintain and upgrade all of the general high schools, this "choice" you like so much would be exposed for what it is. As it stands today in Chicago, students in regular high schools choose ROTC (and most don't).

This used to be called "channeling." Limited choices, always narrowed more and more based on how poor you were (are). The Chicago students who are channeled into the military high schools are being channeled. Channeling is a camouflage for coercion. That's different from "choice" -- although the camouflage seems to work, as your arguments show.

Just ask yourself.

Does any student who's family can afford to live in Highland Park, Wilmette, or Lake Forest have to make the "choice" of attending a military high schools. If they want (and their suburban high school offers ROTC), they get a "choice" that you and I would agree on: the choice to take JROTC or not.

What's happened in Chicago has been a cynical exploitation of economic and social class. Don't defend it. It's indefensible, and Chicago is the national showpiece of that kind of cynicism.

January 7, 2010 at 10:55 AM

By: Albert Korach

retired teacher & military

George, I surrender! We are getting into a Pi----g match with no winner. This is my last blog on this subject. Your blog after blog still does not answer my question but clouds the issue with extraneous subjects thouh important but continue to avoid the basic question. "IN OUR DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY DOES A STUDENT HAVE A RIGHT TO VOLUNTARILY JOIN A ROTC UNIT?" IT'S A SIMPLE QUESTION AND DOES NOT REQUIRE DISSERTATION #5 It's time to call it quits as both of us will not change. I have an opinion and you will not give an answer.

Lets concentrate on the comming CTU election in May where we can all agree.

March 11, 2011 at 1:39 AM

By: Mayra Moreno


Best decision I ever made! I loved the program everyone else can suck a nut... Njrotc does not encourage enlistment, they encourage a career after high school through college. If it's as a civilian great, even as military personnel that's great too! It doesn't matter what race you are, what age you are, gay or straight, left or right handed, or what societal class you come from. We are all taught that we are destined for success because you are taught how to be a person with great honor, character, and integrity. It helps you improve your skills on how to make a decision, decisions are not imposed for you. No one will ever understand what an ROTC unit is like until you experience it; it was my second family. I met some of the greatest people there and I will always treasure it in my heart.

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