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


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