Counter-Recruitment Letter Writing Campaign – Revised!

Barbara Harris of the Granny Peace Brigade and Code Pink has been a champion for preventing the targeting of minors in public school by military recruiters, and particularly kids from lower income neighborhoods. Many students in public school are given the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (ASVAB) that sends your child’s information – including grades, address, interests, etc. – to military recruiters. Schools must choose “Option 8 – No Release of Information” in order to protect students’ privacy and prevent  personal information from being transferred to military recruiters. The NYC Board of Education’s policy is that all schools giving the ASVAB use Option 8, but many schools are unaware of this policy and the Department of Education is not enforcing the rule. The rest of New York State does not have an Option 8 policy, and upstate students are heavily targeted by the military. The active recruitment of minors by the U.S. military is why the U.S. joins Somalia as the only two nations that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As an organization dedicated to ending the culture of militarism in the U.S., PANYS believes children should not be targeted for recruitment by the military and that kids should be given information about ways of paying for college other than enlisting. Please keep reading below to find out how you can send an email to request that the selection of Option 8 is required for all New York public high schools that administer the ASVAB.

From Barbara Harris:

The letter below can simply be cut and pasted to an email that you compose and
send off to the NY State Regents. There are 18 Regents, but you will need just 1
letter.  Address the letter To: the Commissioner of Regents and CC: all the
other Regents. (names & email addresses are below)
Add your name and address – and send.

It’s reassuring to know that the New York City Department of Education
specifically calls for the selection of Option 8 for all students taking the ASVAB test. The
current effort moves the work forward by urging NY State Regents to do the same.
This action is being conducted in other states as well, so it is hopeful that
Option 8 will become a national requirement.

The letter, details, and following commentary are from Pat Elder, who was able
to achieve the change in Maryland law. Maryland now requires that each public
school that administers the ASVAB shall choose “Option 8″.  We can do it too. (Commissioner)

Dear Regent,

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, (ASVAB) is the military’s
entrance exam that is given to fresh recruits to determine their aptitude for
various military occupations. The test is also used as a recruiting tool in 388
high schools throughout New York. During the 2009-1010 school year, the 4 hour
test was used by military recruiting services to gain sensitive, personal
information on 14,976 high school students, the vast majority of whom are under
the age of 18.  In high schools throughout New York, the ASVAB is promoted
without revealing its primary function as a recruitment tool.  Students
typically are given the test at school without parental knowledge or consent.
The school-based ASVAB Career Exploration Program is among the military’s most
effective recruiting tools.

Nationally, 12,000 high schools allow the military to administer the test to
660,000 high school students.

Although the Department of Defense promotes the ASVAB as a voluntary “Career
Exploration Program” administered to juniors and seniors, the US Army Recruiting
Command’s School Recruiting Program Handbook says the primary purpose of the
ASVAB is to provide military recruiters “with a source of leads of high school
juniors and seniors qualified through the ASVAB for enlistment into the Active
Army and Army Reserve.”  School counselors and administrators encourage students
to take the test that many claim assists students in matching their abilities
with certain career paths.

The military uses the exam to gather a treasure-trove of information to use in a
sophisticated recruiting program.  After the test is administered, military
representatives meet with youth at school to discuss their scores and suggest
career paths.  Later, recruiters make calls to the students, using
individualized profiles gathered from test data and other sources.

Federal and state laws strictly monitor the release of student information, but
the military manages to circumvent these laws with the administration of the
ASVAB.  The Family Educational Rights Protection Act, FERPA, and Section 9528 of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA, both contain requirements for
opt-out notifications in releases of student information.  Parents are given the
right to stop their child’s personal information from being released to third
parties, including the military, but there are no such requirements in the ASVAB
student testing program.

Although military regulations allow schools to administer the test while
precluding test results from automatically being sent to recruiters, few school
administrators across the state are aware of the option. In fact, 79.6% of New
York’s high school students who took the ASVAB had their test results forwarded
to the Pentagon for recruitment purposes without parental consent and often
without parental knowledge.  Nationally, that figure is 88%.
U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) Regulation 601-4 identifies
several options schools have regarding the administration and release of ASVAB
information.   These options range from Option 1, which permits test results and
other student information to be released to military recruiters without prior
consent, to Option 8, the only one that prevents test results from being used
for recruiting purposes.  Inaction on the part of a school will cause USMEPCOM
to automatically select Option 1.  Students and parents may not determine which
release option is used; therefore they cannot opt out of releasing the
information individually.  See Page 3-2 of USMEPCOM 601-4

In 2010 Maryland became the first state to enact a law that prohibits the
automatic release of student information to military recruiters gathered as a
result of the administration of the ASVAB.  The Maryland law requires that each
public school that administers the ASVAB shall choose “Option 8” as the
reporting option for military recruiter contact to prohibit the general release
of any student information to military recruiters. The law will ensure that the
decision to share test results and accompanying private information with
military recruiters rests solely in the hands of students and their parents.
While Maryland is the first state to implement a law prohibiting the automatic
release of student information gained through the administration of the ASVAB,
Hawaii’s Department of Education has implemented a statewide policy.

Regulation A-825 of the New York City Department of Education specifically calls
for the selection of Option 8 for all students taking the ASVAB.  Other large
school districts, including those in Los Angeles, and San Diego have policies to
the same effect. The California legislature passed a similar measure in 2008,
but it was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I am writing to request that you require the selection of Option 8 for all
students who take the ASVAB in New York’s public high schools.


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