Fall Opt-Out campaign report back from Roosevelt High School

The fall "Opt-Out" campaign is in full swing and we have a report-back from how it went at Roosevelt High School this past week.  For those who don't know about the opt-out campaign, here is some brief background.  The No Child Left Behind Act requires high schools to share student information with military recruiters. However, there is a provision where students and parents can opt-out of sharing this private information by filling out a form and submitting it to the school.  The opt-out campaign is an effort to educate students and their parents about this information sharing and to provide them with the necessary form.

DAY ONE, SHIFT ONE, OF OPT-OUT CAMPAIGN, 9/13/2012: Roosevelt High School. Two volunteers can usually be kept steadily busy, but not frantically so, engaging youth about Opt-Out at Roosevelt. Roosevelt is one of PPS' smaller high schools and still operates under the small school model with three academies. Roosevelt is a high school with a very diverse student population in the St. John's neighborhood. It is an at-risk high school.  Roosevelt students, for the most part, are very polite. Families and staff at Roosevelt tend to be supportive. There were a lot of "terrifics" and thumbs-up from adults who asked what we were doing. Because the student population is financially-stressed, this is a school whose students are very vulnerable to the "poverty draft."

Two stories that show how rewarding the work can be:

1. There was a group of six young men heading towards school (probably juniors and seniors). Forms in hand, I started to talk to them while walking alongside them and they were half-listening. (It's 7:30 in the morning.) One of the young men was more than half-listening, because when I got to the part of, "If you DON'T want your personal information released to the military," he interrupted, "I've been looking for that form!" His peers then stopped in their tracks and said, "What form? To do what?" All six youth took a form, which they will hopefully be completing and handing in to the school secretary by October 1. One youth, already familiar with Opt-Out forms from previous Recruiter Watch (and allies) campaigns, convinced his peers that the form was something they should be interested in.

2. There was a group of five young men chatting across the street from the high school. I approached them with forms in hand. One youth took the form. One said he did not care. One youth said he was enlisting. Volunteers also have on hand the AFSC's "Questions to Ask Military Recruiters -- and the Answers They Should Give You.' I told the youth that if he was considering enlisting, here are some questions he should probably think about to make an informed decision. He was willing to take the "Questions." Then he started to play 17-questions with his peers, using the questions to ask military recruiters. They were trying to see whether they already knew the answers and were somewhat dismayed to find out how many they were getting wrong! One youth, considering joining the military, wound up educating his peers about the fine-print of the military enlistment contract!