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Inside the News

Update: Oakland Military Institute Opens

On August 13, the much-disputed Oakland Military Institute, run by the California National Guard, opened. The charter school, which had been rejected by both the Oakland Board of Education and the Alameda County School Board, was approved by the California Board of Education last December.

The first cadets are more than 150 seventh-graders; plans are to expand the school through high school. Of the current students, 67 % are male and 90 % are African-American or Latino. (Dozens of students dropped out or were expelled during the two-week boot camp that preceded the start of school.)

These cadets, dressed in military uniforms (tan fatigues and black combat boots), start their school days with reveille and morning military drills. Then they head to classrooms, marked with names like "Fort Justice" and "Fort Success," for seven academic periods. Each classroom has a uniformed National Guard sergeant who is to keep order and discipline. With a mandatory study hall after school in which homework must be completed, cadets will be in school for 10 hours a day, 200 days a year.

Despite opposition and many unanswered questions from parents, activists, the school boards, and education professionals, Oakland mayor Jerry Brown continues to advocate that the school is the answer to the problems of the public schools, especially discipline, structure, and poor academic performance. But is it really? The school offers the "solution" of military discipline, leading to a further militarization of our schools and communities. However, it does not address real problems, such as racism, poverty, or lack of resources within the schools. Although claiming to help students who are "at-risk" or "disadvantaged," the school only admits students with good records. The more than $3 million allocated to the school could have been used to help more students within the Oakland schools, not just a selected few.

This school is the second public, all-military school in the country. Across the country, parents, teachers, and concerned activists are raising questions about whether this is the solution to the difficulties of school systems and why it is believed that the military can better educate students than trained educators can. Our students are sold short when we allow military drill to pass for education or discipline, when public schools are turned into yet more arenas for military recruitment.


New York Times, August 24, 2001
Oakland Tribune, August 14, 2001
Oakland Tribune, August 12, 2001

If you are concerned about the military in our schools or would like to start a campaign in your area, please contact us.


History of and concerns about the OMI

Chicago’s Bronzeville military academy

Military programs in public schools

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About the history of and concerns about the OMI



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New Law Aids Recruiters

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