Caution: San Francisco values at work. Even the left-wing San Francisco Chronicle says the political leaders of Baghdad by the Bay have gone too far:
SAN FRANCISCO public schools have problems, but a popular military-themed program isn’t one of them.
Still, a four-vote majority of the seven-member Board of Education is likely this week to cancel the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps classes. The justifications are predictable: School leaders must stand up to the Pentagon’s half-baked “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members, and to the war in Iraq.
This blunderbuss sloganeering fits snugly with an advisory vote last year barring military recruiting at schools. But the reasoning, compelling as it sounds to progressive San Francisco, is inadequate. The high-flown arguments fall apart when drill-and-discipline JROTC basics are examined.
Sorry, adults, but kids love this program as if it’s family. There are 1,600 students enrolled in the classes, which fulfill physical-ed requirements. Punctuality, teamwork and camaraderie are the hallmarks. There, military drill competitions are as popular as football games. There are no weapons, just sticks and flags used in marching.
Some JROTC members go on to serve in the military, but the vast majority don’t, seeing the classes as an enjoyable experience and a chance to learn new things: map-reading, leadership skills and self-discipline that goes with military-style assignments and crisp uniforms.
Myths need to be dispelled. Most students leave JROTC by their senior year, suggesting it’s not much of a recruiting tool. The bills are minimal — $1 million for salaries out of a school budget of $356 million.
Some anti-JROTC school board members want to sub the program with a morale-building alternative. School bands? International affairs clubs? Civics organizations? Maybe some of it would work, but no one has offered an alternative as coherent and well-run as JROTC.
The paper provided this contact info:
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The San Francisco Board of Education is scheduled to vote Tuesday on ending the JROTC program. Let the trustees know your views. Their e-mail addresses are:
– Norman Yee, president: email@example.com
– Sarah Lipson, vice president: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Eddie Y. Chin: email@example.com
– Dan Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Eric Mar: email@example.com
– Mark Sanchez: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Jill Wynns: email@example.com
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