"I didn't know then what a reasonable response would be," Stewart says. "But I just knew there had to be something that addressed or challenged it in one way or another."
In recent weeks letters have been landing in the mailboxes of every principal in the Minneapolis School District notifying them of new restrictions on military recruiters--the result of a Stewart drafted resolution that passed unanimously in March.
The resolution restricts recruiters to career centers and requires them to give two weeks notice before making a visit. Seattle, Berkeley and Santa Cruz have passed their own resolutions. Some of those sought to ban the military altogether. Stewart says the Minneapolis restrictions are the "Minnesota nice version."
"It doesn't seek to ban or overly chastise the military," Stewart notes. After some complaints about recruiters cornering kids in hallways and cafeterias, Stewart says the resolution seeks to make sure they act within a "protected space."
"I don't want my kid being evangelized about militarism just because he walks through the hall or into a lunchroom--especially when we are teaching him something vastly different at home. If you are a person who is proud of your family's military service, it is perfectly acceptable for you to find the recruiters in the career center."
Craig Vana, an Associate Superintendent for Minneapolis schools says when he served as a Minneapolis principle, he would give access to "maybe 100 recruiters a year" with between 30 and 40 at a time at career fairs."
Vana says he can recall "very few recruiters behaving inappropriately or crossing lines" but acknowledges the importance of controlling access and "making it very clear what steps to follow to make the appropriate arrangements.
Students of the Minneapolis district, are you out there? What experiences have you had with recruiters?
Military families with kids in the Minneapolis schools: your thoughts?
Here is the full text of the resolution:
RESOLUTION ON RECRUITER ACCESS TO STUDENTS
WHEREAS, the U.S. Military expends approximately $1.4 billion annually (FY 2006) in recruiting efforts; and
WHEREAS, the military has access to student directory information unless the student’s parent has chosen to opt out as mandated by Section 9528 of the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB) which access is provided by the District under threat of loss of federal funding for schools; and
WHEREAS, to continue its core mission of providing a free and effective education for local youth, Minneapolis Special District No. 1 cannot sustain itself without adequate federal funds; and
WHEREAS, questions about the extent of access by military recruiters to students during the school day on school premises can be addressed through the standards in the District’s visitors policy; and
WHEREAS, the Minneapolis School Board is charged with giving guidance as to policy implementation; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of Minneapolis Public School students to receive information about all post-secondary options available to them; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interests of Minneapolis Public Schools students to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints on controversial issues which may affect their education or welfare; and
WHEREAS, community based organizations may be valuable sources for information on military service;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED: That the Minneapolis Special District No. 1 Board of Education directs the Superintendent and staff to allow access to high school students by organizations which provide information about all aspects of military service if approved as a community partner organization through the District approval process.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that military and other recruiters may interact with students only in school approved locations such as high school College & Career Centers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, to establish a standard procedure for campus access, all recruiters requesting campus access shall submit a request in writing on official letterhead at least 2 weeks in advance and that notice of their presence will be available to students and the public at least 1 week in advance on either a school web site or designated location for such announcements in the school.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: When high schools permit military recruiters to speak with students regarding military career opportunities, the school must provide equal access for organizations that wish to counsel alternatives to, or provide additional information about, military service. If literature encouraging military service is displayed for students to read or pick up, groups counseling alternatives to military service may similarly display their literature.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That to assure privacy protection for students, entities receiving private student directory information will sign a statement identifying the specific use of the information and certifying that use of the information conforms with all city, state and federal laws regarding privacy and is non-discriminatory.
[Signed] Lydia Lee February 26th, 2008 Board of Education Chairperson
[Signed] Sharon Henry-Blythe February 26th, 2008 Board of Education Clerk