Parents demand "opt-out" information at NYC high school

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

In a follow-up to the counter-recruitment work at New York City high schools during the city's Parent-Teacher Conference night last month (read the New York Times article about it here), last week I attended a Parent Teacher Association meeting at the Norman Thomas High School in Murray Hill to talk about the No Child Left Behind's opt-out option from its school-recruitment clause, military recruiters in the schools, and the rights and responsibilities of parents to take charge of the issue. (I was officially representing fellow peace group the Granny Peace Brigade).

I went with two teens from New York City's teen racial and LGBT justice group, the Ya-Ya Network, and we were scheduled for 15 minutes -- but the discussion and Q & A went on for 40. Not one parent in the room knew about opt-out.  They were troubled by the lack of information they had received from the school and then energized to do the right thing and to spread the word. The Ya-Yas wowed the crowd with personal stories of recruiters harassing them and friends.  One student, who was with her mother at the meeting, told us we should have been at the school last year when recruiters came and three of her friends enlisted.  A math teacher elaborated on his experience with military recruiters and what parents should do if harassed.

The principal came into the auditorium just before we finished speaking.  He said the opt-out form had been sent to every parent during the summer. It was included in the general package of materials for parents and students.  Really?  Didn't he realize that none or very, very few of the forms had been returned?  Parents confronted him with their new knowledge.  Maybe there will be a change in prodecures at Norman Thomas H.S. next September.

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