'Cheerleaders' forgot to bring their weapons?... Carver 'Military Academy' cheerleaders dress (and cheer?) for war -- but Carver's football team can't win against tiny Bowen High School in Columbus Day weekend game!

[Editor's Note: Clarification. Since the publication of this story, a number of individuals have brought to our attention a minor inaccuracy in the original. The group of young ladies in the photograph are not the Carver "cheerleaders" but the Carver Pom Pon squad. We stand by our reporter's story. George N. Schmidt, Editor].

An exciting Saturday morning of football was held in Chicago's Eckersall Stadium October 11, 2014. South Chicago's Bowen High School beat Carver "Military Academy" [high school] 61 to 12 in a powerful show of determination on both offense and defense. Bowen, with an enrollment of 375 students, was not the big heavy team. But the Bowen Boilermakers were hungry to show their school spirit. And, now they are standing tall with a 7 and 0 record.

The cheerleaders [see October 23 Editor's note, in the story] from Chicago's Carver High School wore their school uniforms while holding their pom pons during the school's losing football game against rival Bowen High School in Chicago on October 11, 2014. Carver was converted into a "military academy high school" by former Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan and is part of the militarization that has made Chicago's public schools the most militarized school system in the USA. Substance photo by David Vance.At half time, with the score 44 to 12, the Carver cheerleaders performed several cheers and dances -- dressed in military green camouflage Army uniforms. [Substance doesn't know whether this was a first in America's public schools, but we will continue fact checking.]

The young women looked sadly out of place, nor were all of them peppy and happy, as most cheerleaders are. Their dark green military camouflaged baggy jeans and long shirts made them look not as teenagers having fun but cheerleaders dressed for war. But it was clearly not a pre-Halloween costuming. This was Chicago in 2014.

How did this happen? A short reminder about Carver and militarization of public schools...

Carver, on Chicago's far south side, is now a military high school school. Carver was serving the neighborhood in and around the Altgeld Gardens public housing project for decades, but with the push of then CPS CEO Arne Duncan, then Board of Education President Michael Scott, and alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward), Carver suddenly became a selective enrollment "military" public school.

The “neighborhood school” for Altgeld Gardens became Fenger High School, miles and communities away. Gang turf conflicts erupted between the students going to Fenger from 'The Gardens" and the kids from Roseland. The death of Fenger student Darien Albert occurred in October of 2009 while Michael Scott was with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley lobbying in Europe for the 2016 Olympics. Because the murder of Derrion Albert was caught on a camera phone video, the story became international news and Daley and Scott rushed home to do damage control.

Militarization, Privatization and Disruption of Neighborhood schools-

The militarization of Carver is one example of several neighborhoods that now suffer militarization.

Ames middle school on the north side, was just converted into a military school. While students and community organized and won in the non-binding voter referendum to keep Ames a neighborhood school, CPS with the help of alderman Roberto Maldanado (and a handful of former "movement" organizers who publicly trashed the community's real public schools) voted to disband the successful Ames Middle School and send in the Marines. See video-

Bowen High School cheerleaders were more traditional as they led the pep rally for the October 11, 2014 football game against Carver Military Academy High School in Chicago. Substance photo by David Vance.Charter schools are also invading real public schools in Chicago. Bowen is an example of a “cosharing” public school with a private operator.

The disruption of neighborhood schools continues not only with closing of 50 public school buildings (Sept 2013) but, charter operators taking buildings and so called “cosharing” of public schools with private operators.

Following other unsuccessful corporate school reform experiments (including the "small schools" disruptions that went on for a decade and proved lucrative for some former "progressive" activists) Bowen was recently chopped in half by CPS. They gave Noble Charter Schools a "cosharing" space in Bowen. Bowen lost its inviting quiet new library and a proposed infant-toddler day care for young mothers. (It has a separate entrance as required for the federal grant.) Plans were being completed when, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett claimed there was unused space and a third high school was needed.

And, now the community of South Chicago has three high schools two of them are charter operated. Noble started its second year in September of 2014.

And, perhaps this is why Bowen Boilermaker pride is on display. The students are fighting for their school and having fun.

Dave Vance


October 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM

By: Denna Quillin

Carver Military Academy

Mr. Vance, as a teacher at Carver Military Academy, I have a real problem with your using our students to make your points about CPS policy decisions. The students you photographed and wrote about so sarcastically in this story are wonderful young people who deserve the same respect as any other child in this city. I would hope no publication purporting to fight for the equal educational rights of all children will use those same children as weapons against policy with which you disagree. I have taught in alternative schools, neighborhood schools, and now a military modeled school, and I have loved and respected ALL of my students. In the future I hope you will use adults to make your points.

P.S. The girls in the photo are on the pom-pom team, not the cheerleading team, and these were not their usual uniforms, just in case you’re interested in the facts.

Denna Quillin

October 13, 2014 at 4:49 PM

By: Larry Duncan

Already too many cheerleaders for militarism

I agree with the tone of this article. Many of us feel alarmed to see this incursion of military symbolism into what is otherwise a light-hearted tradition of cheerleading at a high school sports event. Although the students from Carver may not be old enough now to fully grasp the historic and social implications of what they're doing, they need to learn about it quickly. If they are to be respected, they need to be taught about what they are really involved in. We have seen the military takeover our schools from Senn in the 90's to Ames this year. Nearly 2/3 of the Ames community voted against the military takeover of their school in the recent official advisory referendum. But the Board of Ed didn't care. They didn't care about the democratic will of the community, just as the U.S. military doesn't care about national sovereignty or democratic decisions of foreign populations they invade.

October 13, 2014 at 5:27 PM

By: Rod Estvan

How many attending Carver could be US Army officers?

The issue of whether Carver Military Academy High School is part of militarization of Chicago's youth or not seems an absurd discussion. The Chicago Public Schools have had JROTC programs since probably 1918 with the passage of the National Defense Act of 1916. Our nation has been militarized for a very long time. My father who graduated from Lane Tech in the late 1920s was in JROTC and served in the Aleutian Islands Campaign during WWII that was then part of the Alaska Territory.

An objective examination of the ACT data from Carver students from 2007 to 2013 indicates that no more than 18% of graduates could make the required score necessary to receive the Army Four-Year Scholarship at any college in the USA with a ROTC program. It is possible that no Carver graduates over that time frame would likely have had the scores to be admitted to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, 82% of the cadets admitted last year had Math ACT scores from 26 to 36.

The Virginia Military Institute cut score for cadets equals an Average ACT Composite score of 26 with a higher math score, the Citadel has a lower standard with an ACT composite score closer to 23, basically Texas A&M University is similar to Citadel.

The problem with the JROTC program in CPS is not militarization so much as a lack of academic rigor. If CPS was serious about this program the students would all be required to be academically functioning at the level of CPS selective high school students.

Rod Estvan

October 14, 2014 at 12:27 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Students as future cannon fodder

Some years after retiring from "Carver Area High School" which serviced the neighborhood and the larger area as a performing arts school (without the resources for one), I visited my old school which had now become "Carver Military Academy". Where the high school had beautiful art on its walls before--by students and others--there was now no art but only huge portraits of militaristic personages. Large free-standing flags stood ten feet or so apart in the middle down all the halls. The doors and bulletin boards were covered with camouflage (and this at holiday time). What was once the business dept. suite was now the ROTC center with helicopter mobiles hanging from all the ceilings. The chilling atmosphere took my breath away; it was so deadly and devoid of all freedom of thought, individuality, or creativity--definitely mind-snatching indoctrination going on here.

October 14, 2014 at 1:38 AM

By: Denna Quillin

Students as People

I reiterate my point since it seems to be missed. By all means everyone should advocate for schools they think children should or should not have, but not by ridiculing students as Mr. Vance does in this article.

By the way, you might want to revisit Carver. As you walk in the main entrance of the school you will be greeted by numerous canvases of beautiful paintings recently created by our advanced art students. I could introduce you to our amazing poets who participate in Poetry Slams around the city. And sadly, you missed our assembly last week celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in which our dance and music students put on an awesome performance.

October 21, 2014 at 2:55 PM

By: Brandon Harris

Reguarding This Article


October 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

By: Alnar Johnson

this article

As everyone above stated, this is the Pom pon team, not cheerleading. If you all really wanted to talk about our cheerleaders, they were there as well. We have nothing but team spirit, compared to Bowen's cheerleaders; they didn't even cheer their team on. They were just sitting down. Carver Military Academy had nothing to do with what we wore. We, as a pom team, chose to wear them uniforms. To get your point across, shouldn't have anything to do with Carver. If you want to know about Carver, we would love for you'll to come and visit. Just to show our school is Amazing.

October 21, 2014 at 3:37 PM

By: Brandon Harris

this is sad

Much love for our school, piers, and athletic department. We are challengers no matter win or loose we challenge our opponents and encourage each other to fight. As the captain of my school's varsity football team in which you included in this article with a 1-7 record I believe that you should know that CMA is a learning institution on a mission. Maybe you should enroll here's a link!

October 21, 2014 at 4:23 PM

By: Coach of Carver Pom Monique Thompson

Don’t bash students to bring awareness to your issues

As a coach, I was in disbelief when this article was brought to my attention. Who would speak negatively about a group of students doing something positive and supporting their team? There are so many negative things these girls could be involved, instead they come to school everyday to learn and participate in Carver Pom after school. We work had as a pom team and for a person who obviously can’t distinguish between a pom team and a cheer team is not worthy of offering their opinion on what they feel looks good. In the future when you are trying to highlight the issue of militarization of schools, refrain from negatively talking about a positive group of girls that you know none thing about.

October 21, 2014 at 4:26 PM

By: Julie Gaster

Response to incorrect assumptions

Mr. Vance,

I am disturbed by your portrayal of our school. Having both an education and journalism degree, I don't think I need to tell you that it appears you have failed to do your homework. Perhaps in the future, you could do a little "journalistic leg-work" and visit the schools being portrayed, interview the staff, interview anyone. This would help you to avoid embarrassing errors that could be obtained by simple questioning--something our students are able to do quite well.

Please don't mistake our military model as a recruitment tool. Anyone who can do research would know this is a specific job assigned to a specific person in the military--no one in our building is a recruiter. In fact, we send no more students to the military than any non-selective enrollment school. We are a college prep academy with a strict uniform and classes to support creating good citizens of the world.

Our kids are wonderful people who have some pretty unfortunate experiences, but they try hard and do their very best which is all we can ask of the news.


Mrs. Gaster

Carver Military Academy Educator

October 21, 2014 at 6:41 PM

By: Bob Busch

Furture MaMa jokes.

For years I video taped Simeon sporting events.More than a few times we played Carver.

They were always worthy opponents.

On occasion the Simeon Cheer and Pom coaches

would ask me to tape the opponents half time

show.let me tell you your young ladies look

great in camo.however i would be less than honest if i did not suggest dumping the

combat boots.I think some schools would ban then on hardwood gym floors.

October 21, 2014 at 10:24 PM

By: Cynthia Brown

response to ariticle

I have always been taught that if you don't know all your facts then your opinion is not worthy of listening to. I am currently a student at Carver military Academy and I can honestly say that I love this school and look forward to coming to school everyday unlike most Schools there are students who are terrorized to come to school because more bigger problems like bullying and there are schools who students are being kept from their education because they can't maintain their students but yet you misjudged my school. I highly dislike the fact that your opinion on "militarization" was based on our school and our Pompom squad. I have been a member of Carvers pompom team for almost 3 years so far so for someone to talk bad about it and don't even know the meaning behind what we do is unacceptable. How can you criticize something you don't know about. We are not cheerleaders, we are the pompom team as you seen we had pompoms and the cheerleaders were dressed in their cheer gear. We showed a lot of spirit by even coming out representing our team school parents and football team. At least we were not else where doing gods knows what...we were at the football game doing what we love. Age have nothing to do with a wise mind so for you to say we were sad and we don't know what we were representing our self as because what we had on and young, is being simple minded. My school, Carver Military Academy, is actually a great school. In the article, it stated there is no creativity and arts in our school. You stating that actually showed a lack in your back up information and knowledge because if you were to actually come inside our school there is creativity presenting by every student. There is wonderful art created by our own students. The school have actually remodeled before I entered my 2012 year. Administration /students have excessively improved the school since it became a military school. You are entitled to your opinion but when it lacks sense, you will be corrected. You were anxious to write this article and enforce your opinion, that you did not proof read what you put. Also, the pompom team are minors in which permission was not given to you to photograph us. It proves you have a weakened mind. I would think that since you are so worried about militarization you would have more knowledge but this article shows that you don't. It teaches our youth nothing.

October 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM

By: Robert Gronko

military uniforms

I don't think there was disrespect for the Pom Pon team in the article. If you are doing group cheers and holding pom pons I would guess you are cheerleaders. What's the big difference? Competition? Or semantics?

As a Marine Corps veteran though I do object to the use of military uniforms for entertainment. Brave men and women die in those uniforms and I hate to think they are intentionally being mocked by school administrators, teachers and students. In the future I hope the pom pon team wears appropriate entertainment attire rather than combat uniforms.

October 23, 2014 at 7:36 PM

By: eldon grossman


Some of us do not want to promote militarism -- particularly in our schools. We are against military academys in our schools because they promote militarism instead of peaceful conflict resolution for our children. I do not believe the article is making fun of the pom pom girls who were leading cheers.I think it was criticizing putting them in military uniforms in the first place because it promotes militarism. I think many of those who wrote comments missed the point of the article.

October 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

By: John Whitfield

It's a Social Class issue

My oldest son attended Bowen HS when it was one big school, and not carved up into smaller schools. He did well there, and avoided what he needed to avoaid. It also did not work out at Orr High Scholl on the west side. Though three of the four schools vanished, Phoenix military academy was safely moved elsewhere and preserved. Orr was mayor Daley's 'principal for a day' school.The author of the piece has had a girl in High School in our public schools and has worked with parents in trying to prevent school closings. that being said, even Newsweek magazine quite a while back did a piece on such high school military programs, in our inner citys, and how this is a çlass issue.' Some have proclaimed that it is'robbing the crib' with JROTC programs available at even a younger age. We are told that it doesn't guide our youth into the military, but many find that hard to believe. Some say it gives them discipline, while others point out it's getting them to 'shut up.' Do we find high school military programs in Wilemette where the mayor is from, or Gencoe, or some of the other wealthiest suburbs on the North Side? Are the offspring of of the wealthiest 1% in our country sent to fight in foreign wars to the extent that students from poor families are trained to do?

October 24, 2014 at 5:37 PM

By: Rod Estvan

re: social class and US armed forces

Overall recruits to the US military reflect the social class structure of the country. About the same percentage of recruits come from poor families as the overall percentage of poor families that are in the country according to Census data. The largest percentage of recruits (17.8 percent) came from communities with average household incomes of $35,000 to $40,000. Very few recruits, less than 5 percent, came from communities with average incomes below $20,000 per household.

If we include officers in this analysis then we find that the wealth­iest quintile of our national population provided in 2005 22.0 percent of the members of the armed forces of the United States.

In terms of race proportionally, African Americans make up 43 percent more of the Army recruits than does the general population, but this is not in place of whites, who make up 1 percent more (not less)than would be expected based on the overall population of the US.

Other racial categories particularly American Indi­ans/Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are the most overrepresented in the US Army.

In April 2005, the Chicago Tribune cited a statistic that 35 percent of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were from small, rural towns, in con­trast to 25 percent of the population. Recruits are dispro­portionately rural, not urban.

Carver or Phoenix Military Academy based on the data are really not the best places to recruit soldiers for the US Army based on the data.

there are a lot of places to look at this data one is

others are

Rod Estvan

October 24, 2014 at 6:16 PM

By: Rod Estvan

one more thing

Here is one other major factor that reduces the likely increased recruitment of Chicago’s minority youth into the military. Each service requires its recruits to meet what are called moral character standards. In addition to the initial screening by the recruiter, an interview covering each applicant's background is conducted at the recruiting office.

Normally, a financial credit check and/or a computerized search for a criminal record is conducted. Some types of criminal activity and arrests are clearly disqualifying; other cases require a waiver, wherein the each service examines the circumstances surrounding the violation and makes a determination on qualification.

According to the Journal Crime & Delinquency by age 23, nearly 50 percent of America’s black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males, and 38 percent of white males have been arrested. Just the simple fact that a young adult has been arrested reduces the possibility of enlistment and this also reduces the number of urban youth who can be enlisted.

So if students attending high schools like Carver and Phoenix really are statistically not the best students for the military to recruit, why has the military actually expanded the JROTC program in urban areas? Really it was General Collin Powell that pushed for this, because he saw it as an opportunity for urban youth. See

Rod Estvan

October 27, 2014 at 4:52 AM


Militarization of children

I'm a grandfather, retired CEO with an MBA and an Army, infantry veteran of the U.S. war against the people of Viet Nam. Children usually do what they are taught to do. The military model is conflict resolution by violence. Thus, while well meaning, having the military in our schools is a disservice to the children, the city and this country. Teach nonviolence in schools. Nonviolence is an educational discipline and it will serve our country better than militarism. See the Albert Einstein Inst. for more info.

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