[From the diaries by susanhu with a minor formatting change. What an important diary, and an important piece of original journalism by Teacher Toni.]

The school where I teach is a Title I school.  Basically, this means that our whole student body is considered at-risk.  Apparently, due to some provision under Title I (at least according to administration), if we deny access to the military, we can lose funding.

Just as I was starting my 1st hour class, a staff sergeant recruiter shows up in my class to discuss the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.  He starts off by stating that he is not here to recruit them, only to talk about the test.  That took all of three minutes.  He then said that he was willing to take questions for the rest of the hour, as if my class material is irrelevant.

This is a shitty position for me.  I did not know they were coming and I generally believe in allowing students to have as much information as possible.  Thus, I decided that I would allow the class to just operate without intervention from me.  If they talked while he talked, I would not stop them. If they asked difficult or rude questions, I would not react.

My first hour class was amazing.  They asked some hard questions.  Why did we invade Iraq?   Where is Osama?  Where are the WMDs?  Are we about to invade Syria or Iran?  What are we doing about N. Korea?  I was so proud of them.  The recruiter had to do some tap dancing, and he even spread some lies – like the yellowcake from Niger.  I pointed out that that document was a forgery.  I think that he was not happy.

Luckily for him, the next two hours were very superficial.  They wanted to know about guns and music.

After lunch, one of my Honors classes arrived and now two recruiters.  All hell broke loose.  In general, the 4th hour class was fairly passive, but a few kids had pointed questions.  One student asked the recruiter if he thought the war was a good idea.  He said that he had mixed feelings.  This sounded like a little back pedaling from 1st hour.  He backed off on the WMD angle, but stuck to the Saddam was a bad guy.  Then, all hell broke loose.  Someone asked a question about torture.  The recruiter stated that it depends on what is the situation.  It seems that he was trying to give a little opening for the acceptance of torture.  I could no longer hold my tongue and I asked about the Geneva Convention.  I stood up and said that our quibbling of the definition of torture was destroying our moral standing in the world and threatened guys like him, when in the field.  I also stated that more often than not, information gained from torture was notoriously inaccurate.

This led to greater policy discussion about the Isreal-Palestine conflict, McCain’s anti-torture bill, how Frist did not allow it to the floor, and Dick Cheney’s attempt to allow the CIA to torture.  Things got a little heated. .. continued below:
 The kids, whom I have known for two whole weeks, were stunned and excited.   At the end of the hour, we shook hands to show the students that two adults can have a heated discussion and can still be respectful.  Several students came up to me to tell me that they thought that what I did was cool.

I learned a lot today.  I learned that many kids are better informed then we give them credit.  I learned exactly how these recruiters work.  They try to be buddy, buddy with the students and funny to try to build a rapport with the kids.  I am very concerned about the access that they have to our students.  If you have high school aged students, find out how recruiters operate in you child’s school.  In the meantime, I am going to look further into the laws that said that I have to have these guys in my classroom.  Next time, they don’t come in my room.


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