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Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps is now in 2,700 U.S. high schools

Does JROTC Belong in Our Schools?

The Junior ROTC Program
Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) is a US military-run high school program. The Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy all have JROTC programs. JROTC programs are either three or four years in length.

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JROTC classes are usually electives. Sometimes, though, they substitute for core education requirements, such as physical education. Instructors, usually one retired commissioned officer and one retired senior enlisted person, are approved by the military. They teach from textbooks prepared by the Department of Defense. Topics include leadership and military history and protocol. Students in JROTC also often participate in activities such as military marching and drill. Once a week, JROTC cadets wear uniforms to school.

JROTC states that it develops teamwork, leadership, positive self-image, responsibility, discipline, and good citizenship and prevents dropping out of high school and drug use. The program aims to "create favorable attitudes and impressions toward the Services and toward careers in the Armed Forces."

But is this program what is needed for our students or our schools?

Many educators, students, and community activists are concerned that JROTC is another means of military recruiting. Additionally, JROTC runs counter to many of the local standards and policies that govern our schools. Parents, students, and teachers have joined in questioning whether JROTC is a sound educational program.

Compare what good schools need with what we get from JROTC:

Accountability: JROTC's claims to improve student performance and school climate and lower dropout rates have never been validated. Students often leave the JROTC program itself.

Anti-violence programs: Many JROTC units offer rifle marksmanship training. JROTC devotes class time and textbook space to studying weaponry, and students drill with dummy or real weapons -- even in schools with "zero tolerance for weapons."

Learn more...
Our report, Making Soldiers in the Public Schools
Learn more...
Does JROTC help our efforts to prevent school violence?

Careful budgeting: JROTC programs are not a "freebie." Cost-sharing requirements drain thousands of dollars from other school programs, sometimes leading to cutting other teaching staff or programs. Over time, the local share of costs may grow. The exact cost is often difficult to determine. JROTC programs can be canceled only with a year's advance notice -- an unusual guarantee for any school program. The hidden costs include bonus pay for instructors, renovations, and insurance.

Curriculum standards: The JROTC texts and its military curriculum are rarely reviewed. When school districts, have reviewed texts, they've been found inaccurate and full of bias.

Fair hiring policies: JROTC instructors must meet military-mandated standards for physical fitness and physical appearance. Gays and lesbians are excluded from the pool of retired officers who are eligible to teach. Women represent less than 1% of JROTC instructors.

High expectations: JROTC's rote curriculum doesn't develop critical thinking skills or prepare students for college -- the courses do not count toward entrance requirements at many state colleges and universities. (link to JROTC/wise use of class time)

Respect for union rights: JROTC instructors are often non-union. Unionized JROTC teachers crossed teachers' picket lines in San Diego. Many JROTC instructors don't have the credentials to teach subjects like history, civics and health that are included in the JROTC curriculum -- in fact, they may not even have a college degree.

"Making Soldiers in the Public Schools" provides an
in-depth analysis of JROTC. Read the summary.

For further information on how to counter the military presence in our schools, contact the National Youth and Militarism Program.
e-mail: youthmil@afsc.org

Learn more...
Trading Books for Soldiers: The True Cost of JROTC
Learn more...
JROTC and Strike-Breaking
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