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July 2000

The New-Old Face of JROTC

JROTC has expanded greatly since the early 90s. What has this expansion meant for the profile of the program?

by Harold Jordan 1 | 2 | 3

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  • The Black enrollment rate has increased; white enrollment has declined.
  • The size and cost have skyrocketed.
  • JROTC units continue to be most heavily concentrated in the South.
  • JROTC has become strongly linked to military recruitment.

In 1992, the Defense Department proposed dramatically expanding the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program. This announcement was made with great fanfare. Government regulations declared the purpose of an expanded program to be "to motivate young people to become better citizens." Pentagon statements and material placed great emphasis on the point that the program was not a military recruiting program. It was said to benefit students who had no interest in joining the military by teaching such generic skills as discipline, teamwork, and leadership.

jrtoc graphicCongress obliged and steadily increased funding for the program. This subsidy, combined with local school district funding, has resulted in more than 1,200 additional schools starting JROTC programs since 1992.

Here’s a look at the new-old face of JROTC.

Racial/Ethnic Composition

The proportion of whites enrolling in the program has decreased from about 50% in the 1994-1995 school year to 41% just two years later (1996-1997).

The enrollment of Blacks has increased from 26% in 1994-95 to more than 33% one year later and it has held steady since then. To place this in perspective, Black students made up about 15% of the U.S. high school population in 1995.

Gender Composition

There has been a steady growth in the number and proportion of women enrolling in JROTC, from 40% (1993-1994) to 43% (1997-1998) of all JROTC cadets


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