Jun 15, 2008
By Peter Karns, Como Park High St. Paul, Minnesota
In Minneapolis public schools next fall, military recruiters won't be
able to operate without facing challenges to their lies by antiwar activists.
A resolution passed by the Minneapolis school board means that every
time a recruiter comes to table, hand out pamphlets, or peruse the
lunch rooms of high schools, activists will be notified and can set
up counter-recruitment tables next to them. This resolution was only
passed because of a sustained pressure campaign from Youth Against
War and Racism (YAWR), a Twin Cities based high school group. In
particular, it was a walkout of over 1,000 students last November
that pushed the school board to listen to us.
The resolution is a step in the right direction, but falls short of
the full demands we've made to the Minneapolis and St. Paul School
Boards. We call for a ban on recruiters in High Schools. Magdalena
Kaluza, a YAWR activist from South High in Minneapolis, said
"although YAWR plans to make full use of the recent victory over
recruiters, the student based organization continues to call for a
complete withdrawal of military recruiters from all high schools."
YAWR calls for recruiters out of schools as a way to cut off the
feeding tube of the military. "The U.S. war machine is fueled by
young, low-income, mainly of-color recruits. If a stop is put to this
absurd poverty draft, the war must end," Kaluza stated.
The methods military recruiters use to lure students are racist. They
target kids of color and from lower-income households, telling them
that the military will pay for their college and get them better
jobs, though only 1 in 3 people get the money they are promised for
college from the G.I. Bill. Veterans earn 30% less than people of
non-military training of the same demographic and educational background.
Resistance is Possible!
Our success is proof that victories against the military and their
big-business backers are very possible. We were able to win our
democratic right to organize within schools and expand the
counter-recruitment presence. We will also be able to use the victory
in Minneapolis as an ex-ample to fight for further restrictions on
recruiters in other school districts.
With all the candidates in the coming elections pushing for continued
funding for the war in Iraq it is essential to step up the fight
against these injustices and help people to recognize and combat the
constant barrage of pro-war, pro-capitalist propaganda. We need to
explain that when organized we can win victories.
We don't think we should be asked to fight wars so oil barons and
corporate giants can line their pockets. With gas prices nearing $4 a
gallon and Vietnam-like war on the televisions daily, we can see what
will happen if we stay silent and allow the richest 1% to control the
schools, the military, the economy, and the country. The reforms won
in Minneapolis show that it is possible for us to fight and win
victories against the war machine!
Kaluza summed up our experience: "YAWR's campaign was several years
in the works before this partial victory was accomplished. The
success came thanks to the passion and energy on the part of students
and supportive community members. Large amounts of pressure had to be
applied to the media, school administrations and the school board.
More successes can be obtained by following such a pressure campaign
model. We need to work hard for these victories and bring the Iraq
War to an end."