The U.S. Marine Corps and the
“No one had successfully opposed one of these schools before,” said Tim Franzen, the American Friends Service Committee staffer who helped lead the campaign. “We had to go up against the board of education and possibly the most powerful entity in the world, the American military-industrial complex.”
The activists fought the school because they believe it would be used as a tool to recruit youth in the
Dale Davis, a spokesman for the DeKalb County Board of Education, said that the opposition did not have an impact on the local school board’s decision to put DMI on hold. Instead, he attributed the decision to the Marine Corps’ failure to sign a “memorandum of agreement,” which would have committed it to funding and operating the project at an initial cost of $1.4 million.
Franzen and local activists are skeptical of
“We showed up at every single [school] board meeting, first with dozens and then with at least a hundred people,” Franzen said. “By June, we were controlling the story, dominating the public discourse and our campaign was all over the press. … As a result, we put them in the hot seat.”
The decision in
The military academies are part of a greater trend, as the
“I think what we are seeing today is a new infusion of militarism into our schools,” said Arlene Inouye of the Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in Our Schools. “It is subtle, but it is embedding education with a military structure. … It is always done insidiously, behind the backs of the community. It is the military way.”Although other communities, such as
While these schools continue to sprout up across the country, there are questions about their legality. During the DeKalb campaign, the ACLU of Georgia drafted a resolution stating that “the U.S. military continues to engage in tactics designed to recruit students under the age of seventeen, despite its binding obligation to only recruit persons seventeen and older” under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This protocol, which the United States Senate ratified on June 18, 2002, makes it illegal for any government agency at the federal, state or local level to recruit children under the age of seventeen for military service.
The ACLU cited DMI as an example of underage recruitment activity, saying “the Dekalb County Marine Corp Institute will be funded in part by the Marine Corps out of its recruitment budget, will expose students under the age of seventeen to military discipline, military culture, and military training, and could become a pipeline for targeted minority recruitment into the military.”
Spokesman Dale Davis denied claims that the school in
For its part, the Marine Corps says that if DMI goes forward, it will be funded by its Training and Education Command rather than its Recruitment Command. The Marines said that the school was meant to provide students with a disciplined environment and a rigorous math and science curriculum, nothing more.
“Some students find that they thrive in environments that focus efforts through team building, leadership development and a greater degree of discipline,” said 1st Lieutenant Joy Crabaugh, a spokesperson for the Marines. “JROTC programs can help provide an atmosphere conducive to disciplined development.”The DeKalb activists are aware that their purported victory may be short-lived. In a June 2 press release announcing the postponement of DMI, the
Latasha Walker, who has a daughter enrolled in a DeKalb county school system, and was active in the campaign, recognizes the need to keep pressure on the school board.
“We definitely need to continue making sure that they never build a DMI,” she said.
“The school board is very sneaky.”
He plans to attend all