ROTC Routed

I doubt that anyone would deny he acquired good characteristics from his service in the military. The Veterans for Peace demonstrate some of the training in collaboration on a worthy mission every Sunday at Stearns Wharf. I don’t think it is reasonable to challenge our school board on the decision to eliminate JROTC. The decision was based not only on the school board’s evaluation of cost benefit, but on JROTC’s own guidelines. While I believe the demise of JROTC is clearly due to the abuse of our military by the current administration vis-à-vis rules of engagement in Iraq and elsewhere, we need to get beyond that to what is best for our sons and daughters here in our schools. JROTC has offered itself as a place where students learn good citizenship, leadership, and discipline. How can we continue to offer this in the absence of JROTC? Santa Barbara is blessed with a lot of great organizations that offer a variety of visions of citizenship, leadership, and discipline. I would submit that the vision of citizenship presented by JROTC is not the only, or even best, one for the future of our youngsters. Good citizenship might require different traits than the military develops. Military leadership is based on compliance, a quality demonstrated only too tragically by General Powell. Don’t we want some of our sons and daughters to adopt a model of leadership that includes critical thinking and noncompliance? Military discipline is designed to be reflexive and non-questioning—necessary in combat, but perhaps not the only kind of discipline we want in our sons and daughters. We probably all know people who can help fill the void left by the departure of JROTC. I think of Babatunde Folayemi and his efforts to divert youth from gangs, the Community Environmental Council, Habitat for Humanity, Wilderness Youth Project, Owen Dell and the Fossil Fuel-Free Future effort he leads, and Linda Buzzell and her Careers for the Future. You can probably add more. These are groups and people who can supplement the current offerings and curriculum in our schools by using classroom presentations. A good example of how this works is SBHS’s Green Academy, a model for other efforts. I hope this can be a community effort we all engage in. —Lane Anderson

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