By Christine Lin
Epoch Times San Francisco Staff
Jun 08, 2008
Students of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp from seven San
Francisco public high schools took to the streets Saturday soliciting
signatures from registered San Francisco voters.
They are aiming to get the 7,000 signatures needed to put the fate of
the program on the ballot this coming Novemberand they have exactly
one month to do it. To make their July 7 deadline, they must collect
300 signatures a day. If they fail to do so, the program may be no
more in the city of San Francisco.
In 2006, a vote by the Board of Supervisors decided that the U.S.
military-funded youth program would be phased out by the end of this
month. However, because the committee to design a replacement program
was unable to do so, the program was allowed to continue for another
year, until June 2009.
JROTC has a 90-year history in San Francisco but has only recently
become a topic of debate. Its opponents say that JROTC should not
serve as a military recruiting tool, and that by being associated
with the military, it is complicit in its "don't ask, don't tell"
policy, which they feel discriminates against homosexuals.
Though the program does not have recruitment goals, the military
certainly benefits from it. "Although the committee understands that
the JROTC program is not a military recruitment program and has no
desire to turn it into one, the committee strongly believes that
additional funding provided to the program will serve well the long
term manpower interests of the Department of Defense," read a 2000
House Armed Services Committee report. ( source )
Supporters believe that terminating the program unfairly targets
students by reducing academic options. Students praise it for helping
them break out of their shells and into leadership roles.
Berkeley freshman Daniel Chin, who was in the JROTC program at Lowell
High School for three and a half years, has been an active supporter
of the program. "When I was a freshman I could have never stood in
front of a camera and talked to reporters like this," Chin said. "I
would never have been as fully informed about the issues as I am now.
These are all things that JROTC has taught me and these are all
things that other students I know have gotten from it."
The program emphasizes community service and includes such curricula
as first aid, geography, critical thinking, and financial planning.
Of San Francisco's JROTC alumni, over 90 percent go to college or
university while fewer than 2 percent enlist in the military,
according to JROTC statistics. Nationwide, however, 40 percent of
JROTC students eventually join the military, according to the 2000
House Armed Services Committee report.
JROTC's political advisor Johnny Wang, who is organizing the
signature campaign, believes that San Francisco, of all places does
not need to worry about JROTC. "San Francisco JROTC students do not
go into the militaryit's a miniscule percentage," Wang said.
"Students use the JROTC program here as a stepping stone to get into
two- or four-year college programs."