2009/08/26:Toledo Activists Make Gains with School Board Vote

After four years of effort with the Toledo Public School board, Learning Not Recruiting is happy to announce that these official policies were passed by a unanimous vote of the board last week (from our press release):

·      TPS will no longer administer the official military entrance test known as ASVAB at any Toledo Public School. They acknowledge in policy that these tests should not be the responsibility of any TPS employee to administer.

·      As required in law, every year, TPS will now present a visible consent "opt-out" form to parents and students, which will enable them to make choices for the privacy of releases of student contact information. This form will be an accompaniment to the Emergency Medical Authorization, a form which parents must return each year.

·      TPS will use several avenues to inform parents and students of their rights to opt-out of the releases of private student information, known as "directory information." These notifications will be included in school registration packets, principals' newsletters and at the TPS website.

·      As specified in the federal No Child Left Behind law, and as agreed by the U.S. Department of Education, TPS will honor any student's opt-out, including a minor student's opt-out, from military recruitment releases of directory information.

For those of you organizing anything similar, I will share with you some of the things we learned:

1) As difficult as it is, persistence paid off. We attended countless school board meetings and policy committee meetings. They could not make us go away.

2) Ask for meetings individually with each school board member. When a new person takes a seat on the board (through appointment or election) ask for the meeting. It took a willing, competent school board member to help get these matters on the agenda for policy committee meetings, where the real discussions happen. We went through 12 school board members in 4 years to find the one who would do the work.

3) Approach your state ACLU and any other organization that advocates for privacy in your state to write to the school board and school administration. Ask them to make their advocacy public through press releases.

4) Discuss these matters in the terms that can be heard. Sure it is about the military. But when discussing it with conservative listeners, we found ready acceptance from some when we discussed it in terms of parental rights to family privacy. With students, it can be discussed as empowering students with their own recognition of rights to privacy. It is all of the above, so there was no misleading of anyone.

5) You cannot discuss the ASVAB test without discussing the fact that it is the official military entrance test. But it is not your fault that they chose to structure the test as an extreme parental rights violation (releasing test records without parental consent, releasing minors' social security numbers to anyone, etc. etc.)

6) Make a comparison study of the administration of other tests in your state. When we took the time to compare the Ohio Graduation Test, the SAT, the ACT and the ASVAB, we found easy come-backs to those who wanted to say "it's just like the college entrance test." Not by a long shot. We laid out the comparison in a spread sheet, after querying the state education department testing division, the College Board (SAT), and ACT, Inc. with the same group of questions in a survey of about a dozen questions. Then the spreadsheet showed us at a glance the differences in administering ASVAB testing.

7) Keep the issue in play by seeking the weekly "magazine" type newspapers in your area (if you have them) to write cover articles. Ours from last year in the Toledo City Paper here, called "Recruiting Kids" http://www.toledocitypaper.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1059&catid=96:cover-stories&Itemid=508

Some may have local public affairs TV and radio broadcasts as yet another avenue to keep the discussion in play.

These are just some of the strategies. Obviously, after four years, many things occurred. There are also more policies to change and we will continue until we get what we set out to do four years ago.

To our knowledge, TPS is the only school district in the country that currently has eliminated the ASVAB in policy by a vote. If others know of public school districts which have done the same (Washington DC had it and then lost it, as I understand), would you please write me.


Peggy Daly-Masternak
Learning Not Recruiting


Toledo Blade Coverage: Military list opt-out updated

Image from Friends Journal: http://www.friendsjournal.org/you-too-can-rein-military-recruiters-high-school